Whitmer: Delaying Medicaid work rules avoids wasting money

An Idaho university has started accepting Medicaid as health insurance again meeting its coverage requirement and reversing a heavily criticized decision. (Source: Medicaid)
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LANSING, MI. (AP) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says delaying implementation of work requirements for enrollees in Michigan's Medicaid expansion program would prevent the state from potentially wasting at least $1 million.

The Democrat issued a special message to legislative leaders Tuesday, a day after saying the Republican-controlled Legislature should pause the rules taking effect in January.

She notes a lawsuit is challenging the law and says Michigan will soon spend $1 million to send letters notifying about 200,000 residents of requirements to keep their health coverage. If a court blocks implementation, as has happened in other states, the letter would be invalid.

Whitmer says legislators should "protect Michigan taxpayers while the courts determine legality."

Republican legislative leaders are rejecting the request.

They say pausing the program would push people deeper into dependency.

House speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey released a joint statement saying they would not pause the program.

They say that able-bodied adults who want cash assistance and subsidized healthcare coverage should obviously be expected to either work part time or at least prepare for a career in exchange for welfare benefits.

“Able-bodied adults who want cash assistance and subsidized healthcare coverage should obviously be expected to either work part time or at least prepare for a career in exchange for welfare benefits. That is simply common sense, and it is something the Michigan taxpayers who foot the bill for these programs expect. Out of respect for those taxpayers, we are not willing to pause our state’s new welfare work requirements.

“These work requirements are also the right thing to do for people who need short-term help. Getting a job is the best way to become self-sufficient for a lifetime and escape poverty. Pausing the program takes that away and pushes people deeper into dependency, unhealthy behaviors and long-term poverty. All Michigan families deserve a path and a plan toward a better future.”

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