Bill Passed Senate for Michigan Deal on Medicaid Work Rules

Bill Passed Senate for Michigan Deal on Medicaid Work Rules

Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder stated Thursday that he is in agreement to require Medicaid recipients to work, train for employment, or attend school to remain eligible. The details aren’t set in stone yet, but there is a consensus in the legislature that ensures the bill will almost certainly pass.

The governor opposed the bill when it was approved by the state Senate, controlled by the GOP. He is in favor of encouraging recipients to work, but didn’t want to create a situation where the conditions were so strict that people were unable to succeed.

The initially proposed requirement to work 29 hours per week for able-bodied adults was reduced to 20 hours per week. The proposal is similar to three other states that have imposed work requirements for Medicaid. Michigan also has work requirements for individuals receiving food stamps.

Snyder also verified that a provision that would have allowed recipients in counties with 8.5 percent or higher unemployment to satisfy the requirement by actively looking for work. The proposal would’ve benefitted whites in rural areas, but hurt predominantly black cities such as Flint and Detroit. Unemployment is high for the city, but low for the county as a whole.

The bill has been passed in the Senate and is sitting in the House, also led by Republicans. The bill would require eligible able-bodied adults to work an average of 29 hours per week to qualify. Eligible activities include employment, job training, vocational programs, substance abuse treatment, or an internship.

Someone who fails to comply with the program requirements will receive a 30 day notice to comply. If they fail to do so, they’ll be banned from receiving Medicaid for a year.

Governor Snyder opposed the 29-hour requirement, noting that many individuals on the program work in part-time positions where they don’t have the opportunity to work that many hours. He hopes to see a balance with the bill to make it more feasible.

2.5 million Michigan residents are currently enrolled in Medicaid, Michigan Medicare has about the same number of enrollees. The work requirement would impact roughly 1 million non-elderly adults. 700,000 of able-bodied adults would not able to be exempt from the work requirements.

Republican House Speaker Tom Leonard stated on Thursday that he wants to House to pass the law in June before members of the legislature separate for the summer. He feels that the 2014 expansion of Medicaid is unsustainable, with an original ceiling of 470,000 enrollees for the program. Currently, there are more than 650,000 enrollees in the program under the expansion.

He also mentioned that the state is footing more costs for Medicaid expansion, which burdens the budget and taxpayers in the state. He stated that government assistance shouldn’t be a handout, but a hand up to help individuals sustain themselves and their families.

Advocates for the poor and Democrats are opposed to the bill. Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich feels that the sole reason for passage is to cut off health care. If the state was serious about people working, they’d invest in transportation, job training, and day care to make it easier for the poor to seek employment.

He also noted that people who lose access to Medicaid will go to the emergency room for medical care, further driving up costs and passing them onto other residents in the form of health care premiums. People can work if they have health care to stay healthy, treat chronic conditions, and help pay for prescription medications to manage them. Without these protections, more adults ignore medical concerns in favor of paying for their basic needs.

Sara Froyer is the health consultant at MedicareFAQ. Aside from helping seniors maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout their retired years, she enjoys blogging about anything from current issues to travel to technology.