For Immediate Release
Dec. 21, 2018
LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the federal government’s approval of work requirements for the Healthy Michigan Plan, Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program. It can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.
“The approval of this waiver puts into place work requirements for Medicaid recipients, affecting our state’s most vulnerable residents. It also imposes a premium hike for folks just over the poverty line, charging low-income earners an unprecedented five percent of their income for healthcare.
“The League has been a vocal opponent of initiatives that take health coverage away from our fellow Michiganders since state lawmakers introduced them earlier this year. Policies like this are inherently flawed and unfairly politicize the plight of people with low incomes in our state. Data from the University of Michigan shows that a majority of people who are enrolled in Healthy Michigan are already working, and those who are not face barriers such as chronic illnesses, poor health, advanced age or other limitations. Medicaid is a healthcare program, not a jobs program, and this attempt to change that is terribly misguided.
“But now that the federal government has approved the waiver, Michigan has to do its best to implement it in a way that minimizes harm.
“It starts with systems. Let’s make sure people have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in order to keep their healthcare. Let’s make sure the reporting system is easy to access—many adults on Medicaid don’t have internet access, for example. And above all, let’s focus on the barriers that keep people from working in the first place. Transportation. Training. Child care. People will fall through the cracks if these issues aren’t addressed.
“The state should look closely at what has happened in Arkansas, the first state in the country to implement work requirements for Medicaid. The implementation has had disastrous results, with over 12,000 people already losing coverage in the first few months. What’s happening in Arkansas serves as an ominous warning to Michigan: enrollees are unable to report their work hours because many users can’t access the hastily-created reporting system, jobs aren’t able to provide the required hours, exemption requirements are challenging to meet and once patients lose their coverage, they are returning to the emergency department to access care, which all increases uncompensated care costs. All things we warned legislators and the administration would happen.
“It’s surprising that those lawmakers who say they believe in “hard work” aren’t willing to put in the work it takes to solve the real problems facing our state, instead focusing on punitive policies like this. We hope the new administration and Legislature will focus on solutions and cooperation, not partisan tactics and shaming those in need.”
The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.