Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law last Friday that places an 80-hour per month work requirement in order to receive Medicaid coverage.
Advocates for the poor are blasting Snyder’s support for the requirements. They say it’s an about-face for the governor, who championed the 2013 expansion of Medicaid through his Healthy Michigan Plan. They say the work requirements put the healthcare of close to 700,000 people at risk.
Proponents of the new law say, conversely, that it could actually ensure the future of Healthy Michigan by cutting some of the state’s costs related to the program. The program automatically goes away if the state’s costs outweigh the money it saves.
Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Gilda Jacobs, executive director of the Michigan League for Public Policy, and Tom Buchmueller, a health economist for the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
Both guests believe this new law will end up affecting all Michigan residents in some way or another due to spillover effects.
“We really feel very strongly that the governor should not have signed this bill,” says Jacobs. “This is just a pocketbook issue…This bill does nothing to address healthcare and improvements in healthcare. What it does is create barriers for people to have healthcare, perhaps eventually.”
“Medicaid expansion has been a really positive thing for the Michigan economy,” says Buchmueller. “It has been about $3 billion dollars of federal funding coming in to support the program so that obviously pays for care but it creates spillover benefits in terms of increased employment not only in the healthcare sector but more broadly.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.
While the obvious argument against the law is that it’s an attack on the poor, below is a list of reasons these work requirements could affect even middle-class and wealthy Michigan residents:
Your local healthcare provider could lose resources, which could affect your future care.
If Healthy Michigan were to go away, a shift of funding would take money away from healthcare providers. As Buchmueller states, this funding allowed for hospitals to hire more staff and invest in their facilities and programs. In this way, the expansion benefited all patients, healthcare employees, and their potential contractors.
The overall financial health of Michigan could suffer.
Medicaid allows people to avoid bankruptcy, escape poverty, and pay their bills, Buchmueller notes. If the expansion goes away, it could lead to more people falling into financial hardship, which would negatively impact the overall economy.
The government will not save money with this new law.
As Buchmueller notes, the Healthy Michigan bill has paid for itself by erasing the need for the government to fund other health programs and by cutting uncompensated care. The elimination of this coverage would make the state vulnerable to these costs in the future.
Employers might have a more difficult time finding reliable employment.
Jacobs says this new law will actually create more barriers for people to find employment. The cost of healthcare will make it more difficult for poor people to pay for other costs such as transportation to work and childcare.
The market for low-skilled jobs could become slightly more competitive.
Some individuals 60 and over will need to re-enter the workforce, which could take away from job opportunities from other individuals such as young people entering the job market.