Sen. Tom Cotton, despite his urge for Republicans to move deliberately on ditching the Affordable Care Act, harbors no kindness for the millions it has helped.

From an appearance last Sunday on a national TV show:


“Medicaid is a welfare program,” he said. “It’s primarily designed for the indigent, elderly, the disabled, the blind and children.”

“It’s not designed for able-bodied adults,” Cotton continued. “We want to get those people off of Medicaid, into a job and into market-based insurance.”

The Medicaid expansion, which covered people up to 138 percent of the poverty level, in fact COVERS workers.

Here’s a debunking of the Medicaid welfare chiseler trope:


Data from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey illustrate that most healthy Medicaid expansion beneficiaries are working or pursuing economic opportunities. Half (48 percent) of adults covered by the Medicaid expansion are permanently disabled, have serious physical or mental limitations—-caused by conditions like cancer, stroke, heart disease, cognitive or mental health disorders, arthritis, pregnancy, or diabetes—-or are in fair or poor health. Low-wage jobs are often physically demanding, precluding those with limitations from employment. Of the other half, who might be viewed as “able-bodied,” 62 percent are already working or in school and 12 percent are looking for work; only 25 percent are not currently working or in school. (More information about the analyses is at the end of this brief.)

Only 13 percent of adults covered by Medicaid’s expansion are able-bodied and not working, in school, or seeking work. Of that small group, three-quarters report they are not working in order to care for family members and the rest report other reasons, like being laid off. A much higher share of overall American adults are unemployed or not in the labor force (28 percent), according to 2015 Census data. Medicaid expansion enrollees are more likely to be working or looking for work than the general public, unless they are burdened by ill health or the needs of their families. Moreover, Medicaid expansions could make it easier for beneficiaries to find work, as reported in Ohio.

Next from Cotton and  them: If you just gave people making $9 an hour an income tax deduction for contributions to a health savings account, they could all afford a family health insurance policy that costs more than half their annual income.