The Editors: Stop shrinking assistance programs with bureaucracy

(iStock photo/pawel.gaul)

In September the state of Arkansas announced that 4,350 low-income individuals were dropped from Medicaid coverage for failing to comply with new work requirements imposed by the state and approved by the federal government. Thousands more are at risk of losing coverage over the next few months. What is troubling is that most of those covered by the requirement simply did not answer questions about their work activity on a website, the only state-approved method in a state where internet access lags well behind the national average.

Advocates for low-income families suspect that many Medicaid recipients were simply unaware of the requirement (the state has admitted that the “open rate” on emails about the requirement was less than 30 percent) or confused about how to meet it. Thus, two trends converged in Arkansas: reinforcing a stigma about receiving public assistance and using inefficient bureaucratic procedures to drive recipients off these assistance programs.

Advertisement

A similar dynamic is playing out as states impose drug testing on aid recipients, despite the enormous cost of such testing and the rarity of discovering drug users. At the federal level, President Trump’s administration has been openly trying to “get rid of” the Affordable Care Act with methods like defunding public information campaigns about the program and slashing funds for groups who help people fill out the paperwork properly. The Trump administration is also proposing that the use of noncash benefits like food stamps be counted against even legal immigrants who apply for green cards. The U.S. bishops, among others, are voicing concern that this move will have a chilling effect, discouraging families from seeking public aid even if they are eligible for it.

Cutting assistance for low-income families has never been very popular with voters, so it is tempting for politicians to use “painless” ways to shrink these programs, requiring applicants to fill out more forms and sowing confusion so that even eligible citizens simply give up. This passive-aggressive approach is inimical to the principles of transparent and efficient government. For any public benefit, the goal should be to cover as close to 100 percent as possible of those who are eligible for it.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
mohe dexi
4 months 2 weeks ago

Programs to battle bureaucracy are necessary for each country. If you want to be a member of a team that is battling with bureaucracy, then you need to join a certain company with a resume from - https://craftresumes.com/ - it is a service that will help you become a member of a company that is important for the country.

Lana Ruel
4 months 1 week ago

I think that it`s necessary to fight with bureaucracy. It's much easier to build bureaucracies than to dismantle them.This is very difficult, but it is possible. There are a lot of useful information on the Internet. You can join the anti-bureaucratic team and write articles and appeals to fight it.
You can take notes in Evernote - here's a detailed description of how to use it https://dev.to/juankoss/why-evernote-is-the-best-note-taking-applicatio… - and on the basis of these records start fighting the bureaucracy.

Marco Farber
4 months ago

Thanks for sharing the great read.

Advertisement

The latest from america

“The Wife” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” feature female protagonists with strongly contrasting stories.
Michael V. Tueth, S.J.February 20, 2019
Frederic Martel boldly told reporters at a press conference at the Foreign Press Association in Rome on Feb. 20 that “the great majority” of the more than 200 members of the College of Cardinals are leading double lives.
Gerard O’ConnellFebruary 20, 2019
Does the Church, as the Body of Christ, offer a response to the sex abuse scandals?
Daniel PhilpottFebruary 20, 2019
You might ask, “Shouldn’t we all pretend to be Jesus?” We should, but that does not seem to have gotten most of us all that far. Perhaps a humbler role is a better beginning.
Terrance KleinFebruary 20, 2019