Instead of Work Requirements, Why Not a Jobs Guarantee?
The body of evidence suggests that another policy would do a much better job at making Medicaid a more robust all-purpose poverty program, a goal that CMS says it wants to accomplish: a jobs guarantee, perhaps accompanied by a basic income for enrollees.
Scholars such as William Darity of Duke University and Darrick Hamilton of the New School have written at length about the prospect of a federal jobs guarantee, and the proposal recently gained steam on the political left thanks to a 2017 report from the Center for American Progress. According to my colleague Annie Lowrey, a federal jobs guarantee—one that creates full employment and pays a minimum of $15 an hour, with benefits, to prime-age people without college degrees—would cost somewhere north of $158 billion a year for 4 million jobs. While that’s a large amount of money, it’s only a fraction of the budgets of several large federal programs, including Medicaid.
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