May 16, 2018

The unintended racial bias in relaxing Medicaid work requirements

An area of Detroit. Photo: Corbis via Getty Images

There can be an implicit racial divide in efforts to soften Medicaid work requirements for people who would have a hard time finding a job, Emily Badger and Margot Sanger-Katz report for NYT's The Upshot.

The details: Michigan wants to add work requirements to its Medicaid program, but it's considering an exemption for people who live in areas with a particularly high unemployment rate.

  • The idea is well-intentioned: If there aren't many jobs available in a particular area, it's sort of unfair to penalize people for not working.
  • But, as Badger and Sanger-Katz point out, that would have the effect of exempting largely white rural areas, but not urban areas like Detroit or Flint, which have a higher number of black residents.
  • Those cities are part of counties where suburban employment drives down the overall unemployment rate, even though work is still hard to come by for poor people in the cities themselves.

The key points:

  • "African-Americans who face racial discrimination in the job market are more likely to have a hard time finding work."
  • "And people who can’t afford cars and live where public transit is inadequate have a harder time. So do the poor with criminal records, or those without a high school diploma, or people with problems securing child care."

Speaking of Medicaid: The Lexington Herald-Leader (my hometown paper) takes a look at the legal challenges to Kentucky's work requirements, which are set to take effect July 1.

Go deeper

Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.