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Patient care groups come out against Medicaid work requirements


Four patient-care organizations have come out in opposition to a bill that would create work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

In a written statement, the Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society said three-quarters of Medicaid recipients already work.

“For a variety of reasons a chronically ill person may not be able to meet that work requirement and then they may lose coverage of what, in many cases, is life saving coverage," said Sarah Poole with the American Heart Association. 

Poole said if the bill makes it to Governor Snyder’s desk, the Association will ask him to veto it.

“This is essentially a bad idea," she said. "There are not improvements to make it more suitable for us. It’s a costly proposition for the state to try and track and our fear is for our chronically ill patients who might not get the care they need if they don’t have medical coverage.”

Republican State Sen. Mike Shirkey is the bill sponsor. He says a recent analysis showed it would cost $11 million to implement and between $3 million and $5 million annually in upkeep. But he says that’s well worth it if it gets people into the workforce.

“Listen, it’s time to engage, that’s why I call it engagement versus work requirement," he said. "It’s time to remove all of your obstacles to be gainfully employed and work towards independence.”

Shirkey said there are worker shortages statewide and all able bodied persons should be nudged in the direction of work. He said the bill would also allow exemptions for people who go into internships or educational programs.

And, Shirkey said, the bill has exemptions for people deemed medically unfit to work.

“Anybody who is deemed medically frail or has a doctors excuse that says they can’t work or is measured as disabled, those are all exemptions that will be allowed under the proposed legislation.”

The bill is currently in the House Appropriations Committee.

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