May. 07, 2018

By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) 

We all know someone who is dealing with a challenge in their lives, be it job loss, illness or injury. Any of these circumstances can happen to anyone at any time, and it is human nature to want to lift people up and get them back on their feet.

That’s why government has long offered a safety net to people in need of help. Our state and federal governments provide billions of dollars each year to ensure support is available to our citizens for as long as it is needed.

But the key word here is “needed.” As taxpayers who foot the hefty bill for human services programs, we are willing to help those who need it. But we also expect people who are able to work and contribute to these costs to do so. Unfortunately, that is not a requirement right now here in Pennsylvania.

The House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would require the Department of Human Services (DHS) to institute work or community engagement requirements for able-bodied recipients of Medical Assistance (MA). Those requirements include being employed or attending a job training program for 20 or more hours a week or completing 12 job training program-related activities in a month.

House Bill 2138 will not apply to the disabled, elderly or pregnant residents. The legislation will next be considered by the Senate.

Also before the House is House Bill 1659, which would require healthy (able-bodied) adults without children to work, perform community service, participate in a work program or be enrolled as a full-time student in order to receive SNAP (food stamp) benefits.

Another bill advancing to help ensure maximum efficiency of welfare programs is House Bill 1618, which would require the forfeiture of any assistance allotments that are unused after a six-month period.

According to data from DHS, 51 percent of the state’s able-bodied MA recipients do not work.
We believe that people who can work, should work. Our hard-working taxpayers deserve to know that funds are going to those who truly need it.