Medicaid Work Requirement Bill Receives Senate Hearing
Posted on March 22, 2018
A bill instituting work requirements for Medicaid recipients in Michigan, including individuals enrolled in the Healthy Michigan Plan, was the subject of a testimony-only hearing before the Senate Committee on Michigan Competitiveness.
The MHA is currently opposed to the latest version of Senate Bill (SB) 897, sponsored by Sen. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake). The measure calls for “able-bodied” Medicaid recipients to work, pursue job training or education, or some combination of the two at least 29 hours a week. The bill defines an able-bodied adult as an individual between the ages of 19 and 64 who is not pregnant and does not have a medical disability.
In written testimony provided to committee members during the hearing, the MHA said it is concerned that people who are in full compliance with the work, training or education requirements outlined in the bill could lose medical coverage for an entire year for simply failing to meet a reporting requirement. A penalty this harsh will not help anyone obtain better employment or commercial health insurance.
The MHA went on to urge committee members to consider and adopt a number of changes to the bill:
- Adding exemptions beyond those currently listed in the bill for people caring for incapacitated individuals, regardless of dependency, and individuals receiving unemployment benefits.
- Broadening the requirements for pursuing job training and education in fields or industries with proven demand as part of the requirement for compliance. There is no definition of proven demand, and because training programs have limited capacity it is not likely that all those who cannot satisfy the work requirement will attain training in these specific industries or fields.
- Adding other qualifying activities to the work requirement, including home schooling, volunteer services, vocational training and participation in work readiness activities.
- Mirroring the existing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) requirements, which are mentioned in the bill. The requirements outlined in the SNAP for education and training programs are less stringent than those currently outlined in SB 897. The SNAP requirements include working an average of 20 hours per week each month in unsubsidized employment, participating for an average of 20 hours per week each month in an approved employment and training program, or participating in community service by volunteering at a nonprofit organization.
- Moving from a monthly income assessment to an annual income assessment, in addition to specifying the degree of change in family income that must be reported. At a minimum, the requirement to report income change should apply to increased income that changes eligibility for the Medicaid and Healthy Michigan programs.
- Including a cost/benefit analysis of implementing the work, training and education requirements and the cost of maintaining compliance.
- Changing the trigger currently in statute that ends the Healthy Michigan Plan if state spending exceeds savings. If the new requirement is enacted and Medicaid beneficiaries are complying with all of the requirements, the state should not end this program and deprive them of healthcare benefits.
Further work on the bill will continue after the Legislature resumes session April 10, following its spring recess. A legislative analysis prepared by the Senate Fiscal Agency is available online. For more information, contact Laura Appel at the MHA.
Posted in: Issues in Healthcare, Top Issues - Healthcare