In Blog: Factually Speaking, Health Care

The Michigan League for Public Policy sounded the alarm on Medicaid work requirements back in March with our report, Medicaid Work Requirements: Why Making People Work Doesn’t Work. Unfortunately, that same week, legislation to implement Medicaid work requirements was introduced in the Senate.

We fought tirelessly to stop this bill from becoming law, but in June, it passed the Michigan Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder. And while parts of the law were improved by the time it reached the governor’s desk, the main flaws with work requirements remain. Even worse, some disturbing language was added to the final law that could result in the end of the Healthy Michigan Plan entirely—eliminating vital healthcare for over 650,000 Michiganders.

Now is your chance to act.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is running a public comment period on Public Act 208 (formerly known as Senate Bill 897). To make things as easy as possible for people, we’re encouraging folks to submit their comments here so that we can send them along to the department. This is your opportunity to make your voice heard about this dangerous legislation, but the comment period officially runs out on August 12. Comments can be submitted after this date, but will not be part of the official waiver record.

The comment period is critical to explain the harm that could result from these work requirements and other changes. Comments collected during Kentucky’s public comment period on their Medicaid work requirements were crucial in the court decision to reject the federal Center on Medicaid and Medicare’s (CMS) approval of Kentucky’s work requirements waiver. The court called the approval of the waiver “arbitrary and capricious” because CMS did not properly address the opposing comments or the impact on coverage.

Stories and comments from you could make all the difference in this fight. Whether you personally receive Medicaid through Healthy Michigan or whether you simply understand the positive impact it has on your family, your community or our economy, your voice matters.

Here, we’re sharing the voices of just a few of the people who have commented so far. Please make sure yours is the next voice we hear.

“I was able to quit my government job and start my own businesses. A younger person was able to take my position and I am able to provide services in my community that no one ever has before. It’s pretty amazing! I would never have been able to become a small business owner without Medicaid.”

“My father was covered by Medicaid when he had lifesaving surgery for an aortic aneurysm and at the end of his life when he was hospitalized for over a month. These conditions would have bankrupted all of his children.”

“My sister is a person with a developmental disability who receives Medicaid behavioral services and supports. Her direct support staff rely on Medicaid since the direct support positions do not offer benefits. These hardworking individuals also receive wages that make it difficult to pay insurance premiums.”

“My brother-in-law has struggled with mental health and addiction issues his entire adult life. Without Medicaid, he often would not have any healthcare at all. His life is already overwhelming for him most of the time. Adding more hurdles will not help his situation.”

“My husband passed away at age 60. At the time, I was 51 and hadn’t worked in 14 years. I couldn’t afford to pay COBRA. Thank goodness I applied and was approved for the Healthy Michigan Plan. If I could work outside the home, I wouldn’t need Medicaid. I am housebound, I have no family to help me, I try and find work-from-home jobs but they aren’t enough to even support me and they don’t offer health insurance.”

“My spouse and I both work directly with low income or special needs populations that depend on Medicaid for their healthcare. Without Medicaid, our clientele would have no access to healthcare.”

“My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014. Without Medicaid expansion he would not have had any medical insurance upon his diagnosis and would never have been able to afford insurance or his treatments.”

These are just a few of the over 300 comments we have gotten from concerned Michiganders so far. But we want to double or triple that before Sunday to make sure the Department of Health and Human Services is weighing all of your concerns.

These are not just people on the Healthy Michigan Plan. These are people whose family and friends will be affected. People whose businesses and professions will be harmed. And people who just plain see the benefits of Healthy Michigan to our state and its people as a whole. Simply put, whoever you are and whatever you do, you should care about the fate of the Healthy Michigan Plan. And we hope you’ll join us in speaking up to protect it.


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    Pat Grauer

    Fully two-thirds of personal bankruptcies in the United States have been caused by inability to pay medical bills (Harvard University, 2015). With rampant increases in the costs of physicians, hospitals, pharmaceuticals and medical devices and the flattening of income among the poor and middle classes, this discrepancy could only grow and the situation has only gotten worse. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the number of personal bankruptcies declined by no less than 50% between 2010 and 2016, a striking example of the positive impact of undiluted Obamacare.

    My husband, a faithful pastor who helped thousands, developed a disease that required an organ transplant. When we were referred for consideration, the very first test the University of Michigan ran was a financial one. If we couldn’t demonstrate that we could cover $1,000,000 in expenses, he would not be eligible to receive the one treatment that would save his life. The coverage of my employer was sufficient. My husband died because we could not get a donor in time, but he was given a fighting chance because we were fortunate enough to have excellent insurance.

    I have often wondered how many people — exactly the people who most need Medicaid — have walked out that financial interview with a death sentence from society that says they weren’t privileged enough to receive the treatment that would have offered them a chance at a rich, full life. By the time people need transplants, they are desperately ill, and a work requirement would be lethal for them.

    I know many people who are physically fit to work, but not mentally or emotionally or intellectually. There are persons, all children of God, who simply cannot hold a position, and their presence in the workplace can range from an annoyance to real danger to others. Often they do not have friends or family that can be of assistance to them. A civilized society helps to take care of people who cannot care for themselves. A civilized society begins with the person, evaluates abilities and needs, and helps that person to succeed to their capability. A judgmental, arrogant society presumes that all people are like many of the people making the rules — including the inclination to scam the system whenever possible.

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    Until the employee receives enough wages to afford the outrageous cost of insurance, car,house and health with still enough to pay for family, schooling and daily living, there will never be a good health care program.

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