Executive Order Would Increase Poverty and Threaten Health and Economic Security of Millions of Americans

Statement of Robert Restuccia, executive director of Community Catalyst, regarding President Trump’s signing of an executive order titled “Reducing Poverty in America.” The executive order requires federal agencies to “enforce work requirements that are required by law,” as well as review any public assistance programs within their respective agency that don’t currently include a work requirement and submit a report within 90 days, regarding whether it’s possible or appropriate to incorporate a work requirement into the program.

“Yesterday’s announcement that President Trump signed an executive order that requires federal agencies to consider work requirements in means-tested programs is deeply troubling and could lead to irreparable damage to the health and economic security of millions of Americans.

“The order claims that it is intended to increase employment opportunities ‘for those in need.’ However, any type of work requirement is not the promise of a job or offer of employment, but rather a burdensome requirement to submit paperwork to prove someone is working coupled with the threat of loss of benefits. Not only does the executive order seek to expand these harmful policies, but it also requires federal agencies to review the current exemptions they provide to work requirements (often for the most vulnerable populations), and consider ways to limit them.

“The executive order would set the stage for harmful work requirements in a range of social programs that would make people jump through administrative hoops just to access programs that support their health and economic well-being.

“Threatening access to someone’s health care, access to food to feed their family, or help paying for housing utilities like heat and electricity because of ill-conceived requirements is too high a price for someone to pay. With this executive order, the Trump administration demonstrates how out of touch it is with the daily lives and concerns of American families – especially those who are struggling to make ends meet while working multiple jobs, raising kids or dealing with ongoing health issues. The executive order is not about promoting work – it is about taking important services away from low-income people in service of the administration’s flawed and divisive agenda.”

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About Community Catalyst

Community Catalyst is a national, non-profit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1998 with the belief that affordable, quality health care should be accessible to everyone. We work in partnership with national, state and local organizations, policymakers, and philanthropic foundations to ensure consumer interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and the health system are made: in communities, courtrooms, statehouses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit www.communitycatalyst.org. Follow us on Twitter @healthpolicyhub.

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