Proposed work requirements for Healthy Michigan

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Healthy Michigan is a plan that expands Medicaid in the state. It has grown in the four years of implementation, and at least one lawmaker would like to see some changes made.

It was a heavy lift for Gov. Rick Snyder to get some of his Republican colleagues to go along with the Medicaid expansion, but he ultimately prevailed. Now some members would like to see some adjustments to low-income insurance plan, which covers people with household incomes of 133 percent of the poverty level or less.

State Sen. Mike Shirkey was one of the Republicans who opposed expanding Medicaid. He says after listening to the proposal, he decided it was a good fit to get health services for low-income residents in the state at a time when jobs were scarce and unemployment was setting records.

Now that the economic picture has changed dramatically, he wants the more than 670,000 people using Healthy Michigan to spend time each week working on their careers.

“Everything can qualify, from work to education to training,” Shirkey said.

Under the proposed plan, a person who qualifies would have to spend up to 30 hours working, training or schooling.

“There’s nothing about this that is punitive. It doesn’t include those who are truly disabled,” the Republican from Clark Lake said. “I don’t want to be Big Brother getting in everybody’s life and checking the boxes, knowing what they’re doing every day, every week, every month. So, there is a bit of an honor system, if I have anything to say about it.”

Shirkey says there would be frequent audits.

While the bill was introduced only last week, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan was quick to object, saying that while the premise of requiring work while on government assistance appeals to some, “in practice … numerous challenges and questions surrounding work requirements for a program like Medicaid and this policy change may do more harm than good.”

The council also contends that most of the people enrolled in the Healthy Michigan program capable of work are already doing so.

The bill will be referred to committee for testimony perhaps later this spring.

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