Advance Notice: Briefs

State sends out letters to Medicaid enrollees on new work requirements

By: - September 9, 2019 12:21 pm

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) last week began sending out informational letters to Medicaid enrollees about work requirements that start in January. The department said the letter to more than 270,000 beneficiaries is meant to help people “preserve their health insurance coverage.”

GOP former Gov. Rick Snyder signed new work requirements last year. The letter notifies beneficiaries that beginning Jan. 1, they will be required to report to MDHHS each month 80 hours of work or other eligible activities, such as job training. Enrollees were informed that they could lose benefits by not reporting.

A form is included for beneficiaries to fill out if they meet one of the exemptions from the work requirements, such as being medically frail or a full-time student. More information on changes is available online.

“These letters are an important step in MDHHS’s multifaceted plan to give Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries clear information about what they need to do to continue their coverage,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “We are doing everything in our power so that individuals can comply with this complex and demanding statute.  Clear communication is key.”

In 2014, Michigan expanded Medicaid to those with incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, as allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act signed by then-President Barack Obama. Named the Healthy Michigan program, it has more than 650,000 enrollees.

There is currently bipartisan legislation tweaking the work requirements, but experts say it’s unlikely to stop many from losing coverage.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.