State Lawmakers Push Medicaid Work Requirements Through State Senate

Apr 20, 2018

Michigan Senate Chamber - file photo
Credit Cheyna Roth / Michigan Public Radio Network

(MPRN-Lansing) State lawmakers continued to push work requirements for Medicaid recipients through the Legislature. The bill was voted out of committee Wednesday, and it passed a full Senate vote the next day. 

The legislation would require able-bodied people to complete an average of 29 hours of work, job training, or education each week to get Medicaid health coverage.

There are some exceptions, including for disability, pregnancy and age. Also, some people could qualify for a waiver - like a parent with kids under six-years-old and caretakers for someone with a disability. But opponents say there aren’t enough exceptions and too many people would lose their health care. Republican Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake) is a bill sponsor.

“Safety nets by definition have holes in them,” he said. “And if we try to accommodate every single unique exempt then we basically can do nothing.”

Democrats were opposed to the legislation, and before voting, some Democratic Senators offered amendments. Senator Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing) said lawmakers should also be required to work 29 hours a week to get healthcare.

“If it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander,”

he said during a floor speech advocating for the amendment.

“Why tell working poor people that they have to live in a different standard than we in the lavish building do?”

The amendment did not pass.

Democrats may not be the only ones giving the bill trouble in Lansing. Governor Rick Sndyer has expressed concerns about the bill. He doesn’t like the version of the bill headed to the state House, but Shirkey said he’s working with the governor and there will likely be some changes before the bill gets to the governor.

“The 29-hours one is one that the governor’s got a heavy little heartburn over,” he said. “And so as soon as we have some full engagement and real negotiation, that’ll be probably one of the first ones we talk about.”