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The Welfare Reform Act

By Tinita Hughes
8/3/13
HCR/230
Myrnell Martin









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Welfare has long been, and continues to be, a controversial issue in the United States. Citizens of the
United States believed that the government was spending too much on welfare benefits, but too little
on assisting the poor. Since the 1960s, except Gerald Ford, every President has sought to establish some
sort of Welfare Reform. The Family Support Act (FSA) became Law in 1988. The FSA required states to
create a JOBS program, Job opportunity and basic skills training. The JOBS program was set to help
needy families avoid long-term welfare use. Unfortunately, the JOBS program didnt work as planned.
President Bill Clinton worked together with Congressional Republicans and agreed to make welfare
reform an actuality by way of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act
(PRWORA), which was passed and then signed by President Clinton on August 22, 1996. This law created
individualized state welfare programs known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which
was paid for with federal funds. The TANF Program replaced the (AFDC) program as did the FSA
Program (Curry, 1988). According to U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division (2011), AFDC (Aid to
Families with Dependent Children) is a program administered and funded by Federal and State
governments to provide financial assistance to needy families. In an average State, more than half (55
percent) of the total cost of AFDC payments are funded by the Federal government. The States provide
the balance of these payments, manage the program, and determine who receives benefits and how
much they get.
The Welfare Reform Act significantly changed the countrys welfare system. The Welfare Reform Act
was set to stipulate more stringent guidelines regarding how and to whom welfare benefits are
distributed. With the law, states are allowed to form "family caps" that avert women who have babies
while the she is already on welfare, from getting more benefits. With the Reform Act, almost all
recipients are obligated to find employment within two years of initially getting welfare benefits. Most
recipients are allowed to receive welfare payments for a total of no more than five years. The Welfare
Reform Act was said to have caused different groups people to lose their benefits, but overall, was said
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to have developed better opportunities for people who were living in poverty. The Welfare Reform Act
was effective in achieving its goals of reducing peoples dependency on welfare, which is a positive
factor of Welfare Reform. Another positive aspect of Welfare Reform According to Adoption.com: HHS
News Release (1995-2013, para.2), a study by The Department of Health and Human Services studies
show that recipients, who participate in a "work-first" approach, had increased earning and employment
rates and reduced reliance on cash assistance over time as compared to a control group, the study
also found that welfare reform was cost-effective, with the savings in welfare payments outweighing the
costs of providing additional child care and employment services. A negative implication of Welfare
Reform is that while largely all of the recipients on welfare and Medicaid are capable and healthy
individuals who can be self-reliant if they had to be, Medicaid and other social programs reinforce these
peoples laziness and unwillingness to contribute to society. The Welfare Reform Act also had negative
implications on the Medicaid program with regards to then current and future recipients. Some of the
implications are, for some legal immigrants because they lose SSI; and 4. Barring most future legal
immigrants from Medicaid (Leighton & Coughlin, 1997, para. 3). Another negative factor that resulted
from the Reform Act was Under the new law, most noncitizen immigrants, including those who legally
entered the country before August 1996, will be disqualified from SSI. These changes will affect more
elderly SSI recipients than disabled. Immigrants receiving SSI are more likely to be aged, and the aged
are less likely to re-qualify through other criteria than are the disabled (Leighton & Coughlin, 1997,
para. 14).
In conclusion, Welfare has been, and continues to be, a subject of much debate in America. The 1996
Welfare Reform Act, formally The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of
1996, replaced the national program of Aid to Families Dependent Children (AFDC) which was
established in 1935 as part of the Social Security Act, and later known as Aid to Families with Dependent
Children (AFDC). The Welfare Reform Act was set to stipulate more stringent guidelines regarding how
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and to whom welfare benefits are distributed. With the law, states are also allowed to form "family
caps" on the amount of additional cash assistance a pregnant woman, who is currently receiving
benefits will be able to get upon having another child and most recipients are allowed to receive welfare
payments for a total of no more than five years. As with any law, there may be positive and negative
effects. A major positive aspect of the Reform Act was that there was a decline in caseloads and in the
number of recipients on welfare which may be related to the fact that The Welfare Reform Act was
effective in achieving its goals of reducing peoples dependency on welfare. The impact that the Reform
Act had on immigrants and their disqualification from Medicaid was a negative implication of the Act.
Without a doubt, federal shared policies requiring work backed by penalties and limits on time while
allowing states the flexibility to create their own job and training programs yielded better results than
the former policy of distributing welfare benefits while requiring little in return.













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References:

Curry, G. E. (1988, October 14). President Signs Bill Revising Welfare Law. The Chicago Tribune.
Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/keyword/family-support-act/recent/2
U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division . (2011). WHAT IS AFDC?. Retrieved from
http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/statbriefs/whatAFDC.html
Green, M. A., & Bowie, M. J. (2011). Essentials of Health Information Management: Principles and
Practices (2nd ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.
Adoption.com: HHS News Release. (1995-2013). Study Shows That Welfare Reform Has Positive Effects.
Retrieved from http://library.adoption.com/articles/study-shows-that-welfare-reform-has-positive-
effects.html
Leighton, K., & Coughlin, T. (1997, February). How the New Welfare Reform Law Affects Medicaid. The
Urban Institute, in series, Assessing New Federalism: Issues and Options for States(A-5), . Retrieved from
http://www.urban.org/publications/307037.html
Newby, C., Bayes, N., & Valerius, J., Seggren, J (2008).pg. 304-5 Medical insurance: An Integrated Claims
Approach (3rd ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database