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State Senate committee passes work requirements for Medicaid bill

Doctor's stethoscope

Michigan could soon require certain people to work for their Medicaid benefits. 

A bill passed a state Senate panel Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) said the bill will likely get a full Senate vote next week.  

“I think there’s a lot of merit there,” he said. “Folks that are able-bodied, I think this will help them become more self-sufficient. I think this is a good idea.”

The bill would require able-bodied people to work an average of 29 hours per week. There are exceptions and certain people who qualify for waivers – including for people with disabilities, their caretakers, and people who are pregnant.

But critics say these exemptions still leave out other people who can’t work. They say it will cost the state too much to implement, and leave too many people without health insurance. People like Claire Maitre.

Maitre is 62-years-old and lives in Scio Township. She takes care of her three and seven-year-old grandsons. She’s currently on Medicaid, but she wouldn’t qualify if the bill passes as is.

“I’ve been a grateful Medicaid recipient for these last few years,” she said. “If you were to ask me to get a paid job and leave off caring for my grandsons and doing my volunteer work, I would choose to go without health insurance.”

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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