Earlier this year, the President indicated that his administration would support individual states imposing work requirements in order to be eligible for Medicaid benefits. Today, the state Senate passed legislation to take health care away from more than 2 million residents who use Medicaid, more than 683,000 of whom are enrolled in the Health Michigan Plan that expanded Medicaid access. Under the bill, able-bodied adults that do not have a disability, are not pregnant, and are between the ages of 19-64 would have to meet certain requirements outlined in the legislation in order to receive Medicaid coverage.
Supporters of Medicaid work requirements claim it will result in better health outcomes because as people are employed, they will become healthier and wean off Medicaid. However, just this month research has shown that most people enrolled in Medicaid already work. According to a study published by the University of Michigan last December, nearly half of Medicaid enrollees in Michigan are already working. Another quarter of Medicaid enrollees are either in school, retired, unable to work or acting as a homemaker.
Medicaid work requirements simply are not necessary: Often, many individuals enrolled in Medicaid are already working, but their jobs do not offer health insurance coverage. This legislation will only rob millions of Michiganders of their health coverage, putting the well-being of them and their families at risk.
Imposing work requirements for Medicaid will hurt the most vulnerable among us. People who are trying to find work but can’t will now have their health coverage threatened. People who work in seasonal or low-wage jobs and have no control over their schedule may have their coverage taken from them thanks to this law, despite holding a job. And people with disabilities, substance use disorders and other medical conditions who are supposedly “protected,” yet the process of validating these exemptions may be too complicated and bureaucratic for them to prove.
There is no shortage of statistics and research available to dispel the need for Medicaid work requirements. But beyond the facts and figures, instituting such requirements for our residents who face the greatest need for coverage and aid is downright heartless. Robbing, or threatening to rob, people of the health care coverage they need to lead successful and healthy lives does not lead to positive outcomes. I am disappointed to see this misguided and callous proposal making its way to Michigan, but I will do all I can to fight against it. Michigan deserves better.