LANSING — The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has opened a public comment period on Michigan’s request to implement program changes that could eliminate healthcare access for thousands across the state by changing eligibility requirements for the Healthy Michigan Plan. In response, House Democratic Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) and House Democratic Floor Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) submitted a letter to Seema Verma, the administrator for CMS, outlining the dangers of the waiver proposal.

“Everyone deserves the freedom to take care of their family,” said Leader Singh. “But instead of working to create jobs, this waiver threatens to rob thousands of Michiganders of that freedom by stripping their health coverage. That’s a threat not only to the health and well-being of everyday Michiganders, but our state economy.”

More than half of all Medicaid recipients are already working, and the barriers that remain for those currently looking for work — including a fractured public transit system, a lack of training or education and the skyrocketing cost of child care — remain unaddressed by the waiver.

Earlier this year a federal judge in Kentucky struck down similar changes, calling the state’s proposal “arbitrary and capricious” as it did not adequately take into account the impact the waiver would have on vulnerable citizens. Similar changes were recently implemented in Arkansas, resulting in more than 8,000 Medicaid beneficiaries losing coverage. Despite the multitude of benefits the Healthy Michigan Program has brought to the state — including the creation of more than 30,000 jobs and generating $150 million annually since its inception — the current proposal jeopardizes coverage for more than 540,000 Michiganders and could potentially cost taxpayers $10 million annually.