New proposed Medicaid bill would require participants to meet work requirements

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - A new Medicaid Work Requirements Bill will affect Michigan residents using the Healthy Michigan Plan, a program providing health care to low-income Michigan residents.

"Currently what's proposed is that individuals must complete an average of 80 hours of work on a monthly basis. There are many activities that would qualify including traditional employment, education, job training and internships," says Melissa Holmquist, Chief Operating Officer of Upper Peninsula Health Plan.

About 670,000 people in Michigan are on the Healthy Michigan Plan, about 19,000 of those in the Upper Peninsula. If this bill is passed, those people will have to prove that they are meeting these requirements to continue having coverage.

"They'll need to attest on a monthly basis that they are in compliance or complete the exception process. The state is looking to implement this through the My Bridges Program, which is what they currently use for their Medicaid and Healthy Michigan plan members, so it should be an added feature to the My Bridges program," explains Holmquist.

There are exemptions to the requirement including those who are pregnant, disabled or work as a caregiver.

"One of the big things that the legislature is saying is really this is an effort to gain employees. I think we can all see around the Marquette area there are a lot of help wanted signs as a way to promote people to seek employment and also other individuals will say it's an opportunity for people who are receiving state assistance to have a little bit of skin in the game," Holmquist says.

UPHP estimates between five and 10 percent of people on the Healthy Michigan Plan could lose coverage as a result of the new bill. But State Representatives Sara Cambensy and Scott Dianda worry that this bill will cause more harm than good for Michigan.

"Let's invest in people and good jobs so that we have less people going to apply for Medicaid to begin with, so we're focused on the economy knowing that programs like this cost more money to implement and kind of monitor. Let's invest in the people, let's make sure our wages are up, we've got the good jobs, skilled training programs and a work force that wants to stay in Michigan," says State Rep. Sara Cambensy (D) of the 109th State House District.

The Medicaid Work Requirements Bill is awaiting the governor's signature, and Representative Dianda hopes Governor Rick Snyder doesn't go through with it.

"Well I really am very hopeful that the governor shows the rest of the legislature the pen that he has on his desk because he has the ability to veto this bill. He has the ability to negotiate yet on the bill to make things better if he wants to send it back to us," explains State Rep. Scott Dianda (D) of the 110th State House District.

If the bill passes, it will go into effect in January of 2020.

For more information on the Healthy Michigan Plan, you can visit the plan's website.