CADILLAC — Medicaid recipients could be required to work 29 hours a week under legislation passed by the Michigan Senate.
To take effect, the legislation would have to clear the House, not be vetoed by the governor and receive a waiver from the federal government.
Rep. Michele Hoitenga, a Republican from Manton who represents Cadillac and other nearby areas in the Michigan House, said she heard the legislation has support in the House. She planned to read the bill soon, she told the Cadillac News.
The House Appropriations Committee heard testimony on the bill on the morning of May 2 but did not hear testimony from everybody who wanted to speak because the committee ran out of time, Hoitenga told the Cadillac News in a text message. The House may hold additional hearings on the legislation and it could be voted out of committee as early as this week.
Roger Victory, a Republican from Hudsonville who serves on the appropriations committee, was the source of the information and was sitting next to Hoitenga while she texted with the Cadillac News, she said. Hoitenga herself is not on the appropriations committee.
Munson Healthcare was opposed to the legislation as passed by the Senate, according to Gabe Schneider, director of government relations for Munson.
About 25 percent of Northern Michigan is covered by Medicaid and among certain groups, the rate is as high as 75 percent.
"There are better outcomes when people have insurance," Schneider said. Any loss of coverage is concerning.
The legislation needs to be improved upon and things need to be defined, Schneider said.
A legislative analysis lists several exemptions, including for people who are receiving unemployment benefits, women who are pregnant, child and dependent care, those with disabilities and medical conditions, and young people who have been in foster care.
Interns, people receiving substance abuse treatment and people enrolled in job training programs for 29 hours a week (or some combination thereof) meet the work requirements, according to the legislative analysis.
There are also exceptions for people who live in counties with unemployment higher than 8.5 percent.
Still, there could be more definitions, such as regarding interns, Schneider said.“We’re hopeful that the House will improve upon and take care of some of these issues.‘
Some groups do support the work requirements.
"There is a need for a safety net, but it shouldn't be a hammock," said Tony Daunt, executive director of the Michigan Freedom Fund, which supports conservative politicians. Daunt said he was confident the House and Senate would find palatable solutions.
The Michigan League for Public Policy is among the organizations that oppose the bill, alongside groups such as the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, various hospital systems and the Michigan Catholic Conference.
"This bill will increase uncompensated care costs and the program will cost the state $20-$30 million annually," said Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the League. "And it will hurt a majority of Michiganders that it claims it will help. The House seems to be following the Senate’s lead in rushing through this bill before truly understanding its consequences."