Advance Notice: Briefs

Report: Almost 200K could lose coverage under Medicaid work mandate

By: - February 7, 2019 12:26 am

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

Up to one-quarter of the roughly 650,000 Michiganders on Medicaid could lose health coverage under the state’s new work requirements law.

That’s according to the findings of a new report released on Wednesday by Manatt Health, a health care consulting and law firm.

The federal government in December approved the changes to the Healthy Michigan plan, which expanded Medicaid to more low-income people under the Affordable Care Act. The GOP-led Legislature added work requirements for many of those receiving health care benefits.

Michigan’s law is for “able-bodied adults” between the ages of 19 and 62.  

The Manatt report suggests that between 61,000 and 183,000 Michigan residents could lose health coverage. Those are figures the company says are in line with other states that have adopted work requirement policies. Conservatives say work requirements, which are used in six other states, help get people get to work and increase “self-sufficiency.”

The study notes that if Healthy Michigan sheds almost 200,000 people — the upper end of the estimate — that would be consistent with what occurred in Arkansas after enacting work requirements.

“The high end is consistent with the experience in Arkansas to date, but the range reflects the uncertainty of impacts as work requirements are implemented and policies and practices evolve over time,” the report said.

Last month, the nonpartisan Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) also noted the similarities to Arkansas, where the group says almost 17,000 residents — or about 22 percent — lost coverage since the work requirement policy took effect there last summer.

Those numbers don’t sit well with MLPP President and CEO Gilda Jacobs.

“This is a major red alert for Michigan,” Jacobs said last month. “We’ve warned lawmakers for a year that this was a reprehensible, costly and mean-spirited policy, and now we have proof out of Arkansas. Unfortunately, the cost is a human one.”

Former Gov. Rick Snyder was a vocal supporter of the Healthy Michigan program and did battle with many of his fellow Republicans to pass it. However, he also signed the work requirements for the program last year.

“The Healthy Michigan Plan has been a success story that can be a model for the entire country on how to assist people in leading healthier lives,” Snyder said in December. “I am pleased that we will be able to continue this initiative that improves health outcomes for Michiganders and removes barriers to employment and self-sufficiency.”

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.