Don’t Just Change Medicaid Work Requirements—Get Rid of Them

 

Last week, the legislature took up bills that would make some minor changes to the Medicaid work requirements signed into law by then-Gov. Rick Snyder last year. We’re here to tell you exactly why those changes are nowhere near good enough.

First and foremost, let’s make one thing very clear: these work requirements are a “solution” to a problem that doesn’t really exist. Republicans love to use folks on public assistance as a scapegoat for any and all budget woes—especially woes that are actually caused by their insistence on tax breaks for the wealthy—but the truth is, the vast majority of Medicaid recipients are either unable to work or already working.

Unfortunately, many of these hardworking Medicaid recipients face barriers when it comes to reporting their employment and could still be cut off from their coverage. Even if everyone successfully reported and no one lost coverage, these laws would still add one more unnecessary burden to the lives of people who are already surviving day-by-day.

To be clear, the alterations being discussed in the legislature—most notably, a bill that would allow the state to exempt qualified recipients even if they don’t apply and another that would push back the deadline for people to report their employment—are definitely positive. That doesn’t change the fact that thousands of Michiganders will likely slip through the cracks and find themselves unable to get the health care they need.

The fact of the matter is that Medicaid work requirements are a cruel scam designed to rip health care away from low-income folks under the guise of saving a few bucks. Support for these requirements is mostly based in the false and offensive narrative that Medicaid recipients just need to work harder—but poor people don’t need to prove themselves worthy. They need health care.

It’s time for our elected officials to stop trying to make a bad law more palatable and recognize the one change that would actually fix the many problems with Medicaid work requirements: Getting rid of them once and for all.

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