Michigan: (sigh) Medicaid work requirement deal reached between GOP and...GOP

2019 OPEN ENROLLMENT ENDS (most states)

Time: D H M S

Sadly, this is pretty much exactly what I've been expecting:

Sen. Mike SHIRKEY (R-ClarkLake) said today he's hammered out an agreement with the administration and the House on creating work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

Speaking during a taping of "Off The Record," Shirkey said, "We have a deal." All sides have signed off on the exemptions to the work requirement, but he didn't get into all fo them pending a formal announcement coming as soon as later this week.

From the wording of this, it sounds an awful lot like "all sides" appears to refer to Republican Senator Shirkey, the rest of the Republican State Senate, the Republican State House and the Republican Governor.

Shirkey confirmed that the 29-hour job requirement in the Senate bill has been pared back to 20 to which he says, "I was hoping Michigan could take a leadership position and set a new standard for that." But rather than jeopardize the entire package, he compromised.

As I noted a few days ago, at the very least this would resolve the Catch-22 in which an adult couple with no kids would be mathematically unable to comply with the 29-hour requirement and actually receive Medicaid under the program provisions, so I guess that's good.

"It's not worth the potential loss to try to go for more when it's the work requirement itself that is the goal."

Silly me, I thought the goal was to force hundreds of thousands of people who are already either working, in school, caring for a sick relative, etc. to document their every waking moment in order to justify their right not to die. Glad to have that cleared up.

A Senate Republican who was a no vote on the plan last time out, but said she can live with the 20 hours.

"That is more compatible with food stamp recipients," said Sen. Margaret O'BRIEN (R-Portage), referencing the fact that work requirements are being phased in for all food stamp recipients later this year (See "Shirkey Looks To Align Medicaid, Food Stamp Work Requirements," 5/2/18).

Of course, you wouldn't need to "align" the right to healthcare or not to starve if you didn't impose work requirements on food stamps in the first place, but whatever.

The Clark Lake Republican, the frontrunner to be the Republican leader in 2019, was asked if the social safety net lobby would sign off and he said, "Probably not. It's just unfortunate. But they are not the target. They are not the ones we need to get."

I'm not sure, but I'm guessing "The Social Safety Net Lobby" refers to the entire Democratic caucus of the state House and Senate?

Depending on when the Governor gets his chance to review all this, Shirkey says he will leave it up to Snyder to announce the agreement.

Of course, even with the changes, this is still a pretty awful bill; the following points would only change slightly based on the new version:

Michigan’s Medicaid Proposal Would Harm Low-Income Workers — And Can’t Be Fixed

Specifically, the Michigan bill, or any similar proposal, would:

  • Lead to large coverage losses. If the Michigan House lowers the hours-per-week requirement, it would only make it similar to the work requirement approved in Kentucky, which projects large coverage losses....
  • Harm working Medicaid beneficiaries. The industries that commonly employ Medicaid beneficiaries — such as health care services, restaurant and food services, and construction — generally feature variable hours, above-average levels of involuntary part-time work and irregular scheduling, and minimal flexibility....
  • Harm people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups. The Michigan bill, like proposals in other states, exempts people who are medically frail or have medical conditions that prevent them from working. Still, some people with disabilities and serious illnesses would inevitably fall through the cracks and lose coverage....
  • Create new state costs. Michigan would have to spend between $20 million and $30 million a year to administer a work requirement, the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency estimates. This estimate is mostly a function of the size of the population affected, the Fiscal Agency says, which means that the time and cost to regularly verify each person’s eligibility under the new requirements would be the same regardless of the bill’s specific requirements....

Basically, it will still suck, it would just suck somewhat less than the prior version.