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Gov. Whitmer Signs Bill to Mitigate Harmful Effects of Medicaid Work Requirements, Calls for Further Action to Protect Health Coverage

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

On Monday Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 362 into law, which will reduce the harmful impacts of Medicaid work requirements and protect Michiganders’ access to quality health care. 

“The Healthy Michigan Plan I worked to pass with Governor Snyder was a landmark bipartisan accomplishment, extending coverage to more than 680,000 people, increasing primary care usage, reducing dependence on emergency rooms, and strengthening our economy. But the work requirement legislation that passed last year puts that progress at risk,” said Gov. Whitmer. “The changes I signed [Monday] will reduce the number of people who must jump hurdles to provide proof of what they are already doing, but there’s more we must do to mitigate their harmful impact. I ask that the legislature work with me to protect coverage for thousands of Michiganders." 

Michigan has the most onerous work requirements in the nation. Earlier this year, independent analysis based on Arkansas’ experience suggested that as many as 183,000 people would lose coverage from Michigan’s requirements. Senate Bill 362 will help to lower this number by giving beneficiaries more time to verify compliance with the law and exempting people from reporting workforce engagement if the state can verify compliance through other available data. 

In a signing statement, the governor called on the legislature to take additional steps to prevent coverage losses by enacting a provision that automatically suspends work requirements if data shows that significant numbers of Michiganders are on track to lose their health care due to the new compliance requirements. 

“To my great regret, it now appears that the legislature is less interested in giving Michiganders the facts and the tools to comply with work requirements than in taking away Michiganders’ health insurance,” said Gov. Whitmer. “As a result, tens of thousands of Michiganders stand to lose needed health care and suffer medical and economic harms that responsible leaders could easily have avoided. I ask the legislature to work with me to prevent this outcome.” 

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that work requirements cause people to lose coverage and do not increase employment. The loss of health benefits caused by work requirements creates another employment barrier for many people who are trying to work, but find it difficult to do so because of a lack of supports and opportunity. 

 

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