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Medicaid Work Requirements Passes the Senate--What Next?

Medicaid work requirements were discussed in a public hearing at the Michigan Senate Competitiveness Committee on April 18, 2018. You can watch it! The WHP's Ruth Kraut and Medicaid recipient Claire Maitre speak at 13:54 (Ruth) and 30:45 (Claire). 

The following day, April 19th, the bill was voted out of the Senate. It passed 26-11, with one Republican joining 10 Democrats in voting against the bill. The bill now moves to the House.

Problems with video?  Click here.

Here is the link to the S2 (second substitute) of SB 897, which is what was voted on. Read the bill.

Read the history of the bill here.

We've been writing about work requirements and Medicaid. Read more below.

What Can You Do Now?

Now that the bill has passed the Senate and been sent to the Legislature, no matter where you live in the State of Michigan, you can contact your Representative and tell him or her how you feel about the bill. 

Find your Michigan Representative here

Send a letter to your Representative via Michigan League for Public Policy. 

Contact Governor Snyder! Call 517-335-7858 or 517-373-3400 or click here.

Check healthcarecounts.org regularly for updates on this issue.

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Medicaid work requirements: A prescription for problems

“We’ll call you with the results on Monday.”

If you’ve ever left your doctor’s office after hearing those words, then you’re familiar with the dread. Minutes become hours, hours become days, and the worst fears tend to enter your mind no matter how hard you try to suppress them.

Waiting for that call is excruciating. But a law being proposed in Lansing would make it a lot worse for many in our state.

Michigan’s Senate Bill 897 is ethically, logically and morally wrong; it threatens the healthcare of hundreds of thousands of Michiganders. And it’s going to cost us a boatload.

The bill comes on the heels of a change at the federal level that allows states to request waivers to enforce work requirements on Medicaid recipients.

First, let’s look at what Medicaid is. Medicaid is healthcare. It was designed to help sick people get well and to help healthy people stay that way. And it does a pretty great job. Michiganders with low incomes are able to sleep at night knowing that they can receive healthcare through Medicaid and Michigan’s expanded Medicaid program, the Healthy Michigan Plan. Since its creation in 1965, that’s what Medicaid has been: A healthcare plan.

Now, let’s look at what Medicaid is not. Medicaid is not a jobs program. Jobs programs help train workers, eliminate barriers like transportation and childcare issues, and work with local governments, community members and businesses to find solutions to problems in workforce development. By all means, let’s invest in solid jobs programs!

But some in the Michigan Legislature think we need to complicate the health plan by adding layers of bureaucracy and obstacles with work requirements. Here are a few logical truths to counter the myths being used to push work requirements:

  1. Most Medicaid recipients who can work are already working. Those who don’t work are students, caregivers, retired or in poor health.
  2. Michiganders enrolled in Healthy Michigan are doing better at work and are able to find work because they have healthcare. It’s not a big stretch: Being healthy makes it easier to thrive in the workplace. But it doesn’t work the other way around. Being at work doesn’t suddenly cure health problems.
  3. Medicaid recipients, employers, doctors and state employees will be burdened with paperwork, red tape and additional hurdles. These complications will strain the state and cause many struggling Michiganders to lose coverage.
  4. It’s going to cost us. Kentucky, which recently implemented work requirements, reports that just setting up the infrastructure to track work requirements will cost nearly $187 million in the first six months alone.
  5. Work requirements are potentially illegal. Under the act that created the Medicaid program, certain parts of the Medicaid Act can be waived, but new eligibility criteria cannot be imposed—in this case, the criteria of work in order to qualify for Medicaid. Legal challenges have already begun in Kentucky that could have repercussions on any states pursuing work requirements. Michigan lawmakers should wait and see how that case unfolds.

I’m obviously urging you to take action on this issue. But I’m also asking you to start talking about it. Talk to your friends, your neighbors, your family. Help them to understand what Medicaid is and what it is not.

I also hope you’ll listen. Over the years Medicaid has helped millions of Michiganders, from those going through a rough patch to those struggling with chronic health problems or terminal illness. It is likely that someone you love or know has benefited from Medicaid. Take the time to listen to how it helped them temporarily or on a long-term basis. And encourage them to share their story to make a difference.

If you have a personal story about how Medicaid and having reliable healthcare has enabled you to work or look for work, please share it!  Click here. 

If you have a personal story about how Medicaid and having reliable healthcare has enabled you to work or look for work, please share it!  Click here. 

Healthy people are better able to work, but working people do not automatically become healthy. Let’s stop discussing unnecessary plans like this and instead focus on the real things Michigan residents need to work and provide for their families, including Medicaid and other assistance programs, job training, adult education, high-quality child care, reliable public transportation, and more.

Added April 4th, 2018 by Gilda Z. Jacobs  

By Gilda Z. Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy since 2011

April 4, 2018 

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WHP Profile: Jean Amador

It's Friday! Learn about a WHP staff member.

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