Newt Gingrich pushes myth that able-bodied adults are freeloading off Medicaid to suggest work requirement

Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich suggested that Medicaid recipients be required to work for benefits by using a right-wing myth that large numbers of “able-bodied adults” who are not working are unnecessarily taking advantage of Medicaid. 

In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Gingrich repeatedly pushed for a work requirement “attached to people who were able-bodied adults” receiving Medicaid benefits. Gingrich also stated that Medicaid “actually discriminates against ... Americans with disabilities because they only get 62 percent of federal funding,” failing to note that “able-bodied adults” constitute only 20 percent of spending and that children make up about half of enrollees. Gingrich also did not mention that nearly 8 in 10 adult Medicaid recipients live in working families, and a majority of adult recipients work themselves but are still unable to afford insurance through their employers or other means.

From the July 9 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

Video file

CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): That is one of the big concerns, that President Obama and the Democrats expanded Medicaid, covered people that weren't previously covered, millions of people got it under there. This -- while it is true that it doesn't cut Medicaid, it slows the rate of growth of Medicaid, some people who now have coverage eventually would lose coverage. And in states that didn't expand Medicaid, there's a tremendous concern that they're going to be stuck in an inferior position. How do you make them whole, both sides?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I'm underwhelmed by governors who love free money. You have a lot of governors who say, oh, we want more of this money, 90 percent of the cost being picked up by the feds for the expanded part of Medicaid, which, by the way, actually discriminates against, for example, Americans with disabilities because they only get 62 percent of federal funding. And some states have actually re-rigged the game to get more able-bodied adults. Second, I would say look at what [former Maine Commissioner of Health and Human Services] Mary Mayhew did in Maine where they passed reforms that said if you're an able-bodied adult then you ought to be required to work if you have no children. Medicaid has expanded dramatically into zones it was never designed for, and I think the American people would support reforms that had work requirements attached to people who were able-bodied adults.