Social Workers Push Back on Medicaid, SNAP Work Requirements

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

As of Jan. 1, if you want to get Medicaid in Michigan you’ll have to prove that you’re working. But two social workers say these requirements don’t work.

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If you need Medicaid in Michigan, you’ll have to work… or get a waiver.

New regulations pushed through by the State’s Republican Legislature and signed by then-governor Rick Snyder in 2018 went into effect on January 1st. The Trump administration is also pushing work requirements for those who receive federal food assistance. These actions have been universally derided by social workers.

The Trump Administration has also tightened work requirements for those receiving food stamps or SNAP benefits. The move will kick 688,000 underprivileged people out of the program. According to Feeding America, 6 million children and 48 million people total deal with hunger every year.  

There’s a lot of barriers. None of that gets to why people can’t find a job.” - Marla Garmo, Wayne State University

Judith Wineman is a a full-time faculty member in the Wayne State school of Social Work and the Director of CHAMPS. The program helps young adults who have aged out of the foster care and the juvenile justice system get to – and stay in college. She says work requirements are a moral crisis.

Marla Garmo is a Campus Coach for Wayne State’s CHAMPS program. 


Click the player above to hear Russ McNamara’s full interview with Wayne State’s Marla Garmo and Judith Wineman.

We have to think about what it really says about us as a country that we will allow people to go hungry, to lose out on their food stamps benefits and enforce a work requirement that really can be unattainable for some individuals,” says Garmo.

She says the system is set up to make the application process more difficult.

People have to apply online instead of a paper application and they might not have access to a computer, or don’t know how to use a computer. There’s a lot of barriers. So once you’ve been deemed eligible and given these benefits, now you’re being told there are additional requirements. None of that gets to why people can’t find a job.”

These requirements often disproportionately affect underprivileged communities. 

Poor people, immigrants, people that don’t speak the language, elderly people can’t advocate for themselves,” says Wineman.  “To me, it’s a political smokescreen to say ‘We’re doing this great thing by saving all this money by forcing people to work.’ To me and other social workers, that is not the answer.”

Russ McNamara, Host, All Things Considered

Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He’s been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.

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