White House counselor Kellyanne Conway says people on Medicaid who will lose coverage under the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare could find jobs that provide health insurance.
When the Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid coverage, that "opened it up" to healthy people who could theoretically work, Conway told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.
"Obamacare took Medicaid, which was designed to help the poor, the needy, the sick, disabled, also children and pregnant women, it took it and went way above the poverty line to many able-bodied Americans," she said. They "should probably find other — at least see if there are other options for them."
Conway went on: "If they are able-bodied and they want to work, then they'll have employer-sponsored benefits like you and I do."
As Jonathan Cohn points out in the Huffington Post, however, Conway's reasoning is faulty: "The majority of able-bodied adults on Medicaid already have jobs. The problem is that they work as parking lot attendants and child care workers, manicurists and dishwashers ― in other words, low-paying jobs that typically don't offer insurance. Take away their Medicaid and they won't be covered."
Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation bears that out: "Among Medicaid adults (including parents and childless adults — the group targeted by the Medicaid expansion) nearly 8 in 10 live in working families, and a majority are working themselves." Fifty-nine percent of them work either part or full time. Their jobs, however, do not offer health insurance.
Under former President Barack Obama's ACA, companies with 50 or more employees are required to offer health insurance to employees working at least 30 hours a week or pay a penalty. That leaves a loophole large enough to drive a truck through.
"Fifty-seven percent of firms offer health benefits to their workers," the Kaiser foundation says. "The likelihood of offering health benefits differs significantly by size of firm, with only 47 percent of employers with three-to-nine workers offering coverage, but virtually all employers with 1,000 or more workers offering coverage to at least some of their employees."
Further, the foundation notes: "Among firms that offer coverage, an average of 79 percent of workers are eligible for the health benefits offered by their employer. Of those eligible, 79 percent take up their employer's coverage." Ultimately, only 63 percent of employees in workplaces that offer coverage get coverage through their employer.