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Snyder sends in waiver to require Healthy Michigan recipients to work for benefits

A hospital emergency room entrance.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Is a health care emergency coming in 2014?

Governor Rick Snyder has submitted a waiver to require people on Healthy Michigan to work for their health insurance benefits. 

Last June, the governor signed a law that required able-bodied people (who don’t meet an exemption) to work or go to school for 80 hours per month in order to receive benefits.

But in order to make this change, the federal government has to approve the waiver – and Snyder says he got the paperwork in early. When he signed the law, Snyder said it was necessary to keep Healthy Michigan going.  

Lynn Sutfin is with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. She says Healthy Michigan has, throughout its lifetime, allowed a million people to have healthcare.

“So it’s allowed them to have primary care visits, it’s allowed them to address healthcare issues that they have, so it is obviously a very important program.”

But the law contains a poison pill – if the waiver isn’t approved, Healthy Michigan is over.

"This is now in the hands of the federal government," says Sutfin. "So we’ll be waiting for our feedback on the waiver and go forth from there.”

Opponents of the work requirement say it will deprive people of their healthcare, and that healthcare is a human right, not a privilege.

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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