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Medicaid Work Requirements

By Swogger Bruce & Millar, Sep 14 2018 02:57PM

Michigan will soon require that non-disabled Medicaid recipients work 80-hours per month or lose their health insurance. The nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency estimates that up to 54,000 Michiganders would lose health coverage and others would certainly face difficulties.

The CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy has harsh words for outgoing Governor Snyder, Gilda Jacobs stated that Governor Snyder “betrayed the Healthy Michigan Plan and also betrayed the people it serves.” Governor Snyder stated that he is “committed to ensuring the program stays in place and that Michiganders continue to live healthier lives because of it.”

President Trump and his administration started the states’ rush to impose work requirements by indicating that the waiver requests needed to impose those requirements would be approved by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It is another partial rollback of the Affordable Care Act, which the Trump administration is dismantling piece by piece after losing the legislative fight to repeal and replace it.

On August 7, 2018, Congressman Elijah Cummings requested information on how work requirements would affect low-income families in a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi co-wrote the letter with Congressman Cummings. The letter expressed the distress felt by both congressmen. The letter stated that work requirements would have a “perverse result that even the proponents of these new requirements should oppose . . . the disproportionate impact these coverage loses will have on black mothers, in particular, raises serious [discrimination] concerns[.].”

As a member of Grand Traverse County Health and Human Services Board, I have participated in discussions during which the MDHHS workers who will administer the new requirements expressed concern about the increase in workload because the law provides no financial help for our local offices to hire additional staff. Our workers already have caseloads that result in alarmingly high burnout rates; now Governor Snyder will add to those caseloads and most likely prematurely end the careers of dedicated employees. More concerning to the workers were the anticipated devastating effects the work requirements would impose on the families they assist and care about deeply.

When the dust settles, it is anticipated that Governor Snyder’s actions will provide evidence that government assistance programs cannot be administered by a spreadsheet; program cuts that look good for balancing the budget can have disproportionally large negative effects on low-income Michiganders. Also, the cuts have a real possibility of violating federal anti-discrimination laws which could force Michigan to incur large legal fees defending the cuts.

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