Feds approve ‘Healthy Michigan’ plan with new work requirements

    The federal government has approved an amended Medicaid plan in Michigan that puts in place new work requirements for coverage.

    In a tweet on Friday afternoon, Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it had approved the amendment to the “Healthy Michigan” plan that expanded healthcare coverage under Obamacare. In June, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law requiring recipients to work 80 hours per month, but needed to secure a federal waiver.

    Today, the outgoing Republican governor praised the federal government’s action.

    “The Healthy Michigan Plan has been a success story that can be a model for the entire country on how to assist people in leading healthier lives,” Snyder said in a statement. “I am pleased that we will be able to continue this initiative that improves health outcomes for Michiganders and removes barriers to employment and self-sufficiency.”

    Rick Snyder | Creative Commons

    About 663,000 Michigan citizens receive healthcare coverage through the Healthy Michigan plan, which launched in 2014.

    The Detroit Free Press notes that six other states have work requirements and several more have pending applications and that the work requirement is for “able-bodied adults” between the ages of 19 and 62.  

    The federal government’s action on Friday didn’t sit well with the non-partisan Michigan League for Public Policy. The Lansing-based organization said in a statement that it presents “dangerous risks for Michigan” and MLPP President and CEO Gilda Jacobs says it will impose premium hikes for many low-income people in Michigan.

    “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,” Jacobs said in a statement. “Policies like this are inherently flawed and unfairly politicize the plight of people with low incomes in our state.”

    Jacobs also pointed out that the state needs to focus on implementing the new policy in a way that “minimizes harm,” like making sure that people who must access the reporting system have internet access.

    “And above all, let’s focus on the barriers that keep people from working in the first place,” Jacobs said. “Transportation. Training. Child care. People will fall through the cracks if these issues aren’t addressed.”

    Nick Manes
    Nick Manes covers West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels. His byline also has appeared in Route Fifty and The Daily Beast. When not reporting around the state or furiously tweeting, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Krista, biking around his hometown of Grand Rapids and torturing himself rooting for the Detroit Lions.

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