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August 4, 1998: Moving People from Welfare to Work

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Perhaps no aspect of the welfare system did more to defy common sense and insult our values than the so-called 100-hour rule. Just think of the message it sent: Instead of rewarding work, it took away health care from people who secured a full-time job. Instead of rewarding stable families, it punished couples that work hard and stay together. Instead of demanding responsibility, it basically said a father would do more for his children by sitting at home or walking away than earning a living. The 100-hour rule was wrong, and now it is history.

President Bill Clinton
August 4, 1998

Today, President Clinton will take new action to promote work and responsibility as he announces the elimination of one of the last vestiges of the old welfare system that has prevented some states from providing health coverage to working two-parent families. The President will also: send Congress a report showing that millions of families have made a successful transition from welfare to work in the two years since he signed welfare reform legislation, announce the release of new welfare-to-work grants to six states and Guam, and release new numbers showing that over 5,700 former welfare recipients have been hired by the federal government.

Eliminating Anti -Work And Anti-Family Rules That Denied Families Health Coverage. Today, the President will announce that the Department of Health and Human Services will revise its regulations to allow all states to provide Medicaid coverage to working, two-parent families who meet state income guidelines. Under the old welfare regulations, adults in two-parent families who worked more than 100 hours per month could not receive Medicaid regardless of income level, while there were no such restrictions on single-parent families. These regulations provided disincentives to marriage and full-time work, and the Administration had already allowed a number of states to waive this rule. The new regulation eliminates this rule in every state, providing health coverage for more than 130,000 working families to help them stay employed and off welfare.

Two Years Later, Millions Of Welfare Recipients Are Working. Almost two years after President Clinton signed sweeping welfare reform legislation, reports indicate that welfare reform is on the right track. The President will release a report to Congress showing a dramatic increase in the number of welfare recipients who have gone to work since welfare legislation was signed in August, 1996. The report shows that:

  • The rate of employment of individuals on welfare in one year who were working in the following year increased by nearly 30 percent between 1996 and 1997. As a result, 1.7 million adults on welfare in 1996 were working in 1997;
  • Families moving from welfare to work enjoy increases in income;
  • Welfare rolls have dropped 27 percent since the welfare reform law was signed and the percentage of the population on welfare is at its lowest point since 1969.

Giving States The Resources TO Help Move People From Welfare To Work. Today, President Clinton will release $60 million in funds to six states and Guam to help them move long-term welfare recipients who have significant barriers to employment obtain and retain jobs. With the funding released today, the Department of Labor has now approved resources for 38 states and Guam under the Welfare-to-Work program.

The Federal government Is Doing Its Share To Move People From Welfare To Work. If we are to move people from welfare to work, the federal government must lead by example. Under the leadership of the Vice President, federal agencies have hired 5,714 people off the welfare roles and are well on their way to meeting their goal of hiring 10,000 former recipients by 2000. Nearly 80 percent of these new employees are working outside the Washington Metropolitan area. The White House had pledged to hire six former welfare recipients and has already hired seven former recipients.

The President Calls On Congress To Fully Fund Welfare-To-Work Housing Vouchers. The President is calling on Congress to fully fund his proposal for 50,000 Welfare-To-Work housing vouchers to help welfare recipients get or keep jobs by moving closer to job opportunities, reducing long commutes, or securing more stable housing. Although the House and Senate have approved some funds for this purpose, that funding is less than half the President's request.

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