Context: This article provides a detailed picture of the mindset of Americans about Medicaid work requirements and the important roles that perception of deservingness and racial bias play in public attitudes.

Methods: We conducted a large original survey to investigate public attitudes toward work requirements. We analyze the predictors of overall support for work requirements, correlates of who should be exempt from them, and attitudes towards work supports that make compliance with work requirements easier.

Findings: We find that public opinion is split relatively evenly when it comes to Medicaid work requirements in the abstract. When Americans are confronted with the complexities of issue, important nuances emerge. We find consistent evidence that support for work requirements is higher among conservatives, those who see Medicaid as a short-term program, and racially resentful non-Hispanic whites. We show that groups which have historically been framed as deserving like the disabled and seniors see high levels of support for their exemption. Finally, we find that Americans are supportive of policies providing individuals with help when transitioning into the workforce.

Conclusions: Americans’ views of Medicaid and the populations it serves are complex and continue to be influenced by perceptions of deservingness and race.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Supplementary data