The Michigan Senate voted last week on key legislation supported by the Michigan Chamber to promote independence among healthy, adult Medicaid recipients by requiring them to find work or engage in job training or educational opportunities as a condition of receiving benefits.
Michigan is currently experiencing a workforce shortage and talent gap. Estimates suggest that as many as 100,000 jobs are currently unfilled. The Chamber believes Medicaid work requirements, modeled after what has been required under the Unemployment Insurance system since the 1930s, could help employers with their labor shortages. Estimates suggest over half of healthy adults on Medicaid are not working.
Michigan's Medicaid Expansion program ("Healthy Michigan") is over-enrolled and under-funded. When the program was initially expanded, job providers were specifically promised the program would reduce uncompensated care costs that would translate to premium savings for employers, emphasize healthy behaviors for enrollees and a set-aside of state funds to pay for the long-term costs associated with the program. To date, these promises have not been fulfilled. Major reforms - like work requirements - are needed.
The Michigan Medicaid program offers some of the most generous health care benefits to enrollees at zero cost to enrollees entirely at taxpayer expense. Asking participants to join the labor market is a commonsense way to combat poverty and create opportunities for them to cycle off Medicaid and onto employer-sponsored insurance.
The Michigan Chamber will be advocating that the Michigan House follow the Senate's lead on this legislation and send it to the Governor's desk in the coming months.
Please contact Wendy Block at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Photo caption: State Senator Mike Shirkey, sponsor of Senate Bill 897 to create a Medicaid work search requirement, provided commentary on the bill prior to its passage last week.