Lisa Cylar Barrett

Managing Director, Federal Policy


Lisa Cylar Barrett, Managing Director, Federal Policy, works tirelessly to effectively execute multi-pronged strategies to secure justice for and improve the lives of everyday Americans, especially those in low-income communities and communities of color. As the director of federal policy at PolicyLink, Lisa collaborates with other senior staff to develop and execute federal policy and advocacy strategies to advance economic and social equity. Lisa also serves as the co-director of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink (PNI), where she leads and manages PNI’s policy efforts to sustain and advance the Promise Neighborhoods cradle-to-career strategy, manages PNI’s relationships with other stakeholder organizations, as well as its day-to-day operations. A lawyer by training, Lisa practiced law prior to beginning her career in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. She holds a BA in English from Spelman College and a JD from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Trump Administration Undermines Workers' Safety Net

Earlier this week the Trump Administration announced a major shift in policy related to one of the nation’s key safety net components, the Medicaid program.  On Thursday, the Administration issued guidance to states which will allow them to compel people to work or train for work in order to be eligible for Medicaid’s health benefits. In the 50-year history of the program, there has been no such requirement as the country has recognized its responsibility to ensure that ALL of its citizens are able to live HEALTHY and productive lives. 

The Administration defends its actions by alleging that work requirements will enable individuals covered by Medicaid to “break the chains of poverty” and “live up to their highest potential.” However, several studies confirm that work requirements do not help people escape poverty, but rather often lead to individuals and families being worse off and risking their health or family’s well-being by having to decide between working or going without health insurance and needed medical care.

At PolicyLink, all of our work is grounded in the conviction that equity – just and fair inclusion – must drive policy decisions.  We believe that an equitable economy is one in which everyone can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. A just society requires that everyone have the opportunity to thrive and do well.  A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, estimates that 60 percent of the Medicaid recipients whom the federal government considers to be able-bodied adults are already working. These individuals are often working in low-wage jobs and rely upon Medicaid for their well-being and economic security.  With this extreme policy shift, the Trump Administration is ensuring that those at the lowest end of the economic spectrum will be left behind, and handicapped in their pursuit of a better life.  Instead of working to ensure that every American has access to health care and is able to pursue greater opportunities, this Administration continues to advance an agenda which is an all out assault on those members of our society who are most in need.