On Tuesday, the Trump administration reaffirmed its commitment to move millions of able-bodied adults from welfare to work. Seema Verma — head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services — promised that the administration will approve Medicaid reforms “that promote community engagement and work activities.”
Such a promise could not come at a better time. As forthcoming research by the Foundation for Government Accountability shows, Medicaid spending and enrollment has skyrocketed in recent years, crowding out resources for other critical priorities. Nowhere is this growth more evident than among able-bodied adults. Nearly 28 million able-bodied adults are now dependent on the program, up from fewer than seven million in 2000. This enrollment explosion is fueling a massive spending surge. Total Medicaid spending has nearly tripled since 2000 and spending on able-bodied adults has increased by a jaw-dropping 700 percent. In some states, Medicaid now consumes more than half of their operating budgets.