Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Work Requirements Are Expensive for the Government To Administer and Don’t Lead To More Employment 
Press Release

RELEASE: Work Requirements Are Expensive for the Government To Administer and Don’t Lead To More Employment 

Washington, D.C. — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) proposal includes a list of demands, including harmful new work requirements that would put millions of Americans’ access to basic needs and health care at risk. A new CAP column finds that work requirements don’t lead to better financial outcomes; on the contrary, the creation of additional bureaucracy to take basic supports away from Americans is costly to the government and ineffective in promoting employment. 

Work requirements are built on a false premise, as most participants enrolled in these basic supports are already working. States that have created work documentation requirements, such as the ones Speaker McCarthy has proposed, have found that thousands lose health coverage or basic supports without any impact on employment. Moreover, program administration costs increase dramatically. For example, it will cost Iowa more than 2 1/2 times as much to administer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as it did before adding onerous work documentation requirements.

The new column examines just how costly and wasteful Speaker McCarthy’s proposed work requirements would be for state and federal governments. Some key takeaways include: 

  • 10 million Medicaid beneficiaries’ access to health care would be put at risk. For those in long-term care facilities, they would not be automatically exempt from the work requirements, creating unnecessary administrative burdens and costs for states, staff, contractors, and technology systems. 
  • SNAP’s work requirements would become even stricter. For older SNAP participants, the work requirement age would be raised from 49 to 55, creating unnecessary burdens for older people. This would create particular economic difficulties in rural areas, which have older populations, fewer job opportunities, and more expensive food. 

“Plain and simple, Speaker McCarthy’s proposal creates unnecessary red tape, will cost states millions, and restricts access to food, health coverage, and other basic supports that millions of people who are already working rely on,” said Lily Roberts, acting vice president of Inclusive Economy at CAP and author of the column. “This proposal doesn’t improve Americans’ well-being at all, and it doesn’t make it more likely that anyone will find a job. It buries states and the federal government in mountains of paperwork, all while stripping away pivotal access to services that millions rely on to stay healthy, put food on the table, and more.” 

Read the column: “Work Requirements are Expensive for the Government To Administer and Don’t Lead to More Employment” by Lily Roberts

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sarah Nadeau at [email protected].

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