Medicaid workforce engagement signed into law

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law Public Act 208 of 2018, establishing workforce engagement requirements for Healthy Michigan Medicaid recipients, said bill sponsor Sen. Mike Shirkey.

The law requires able-bodied adults between ages 19 and 62 to spend an average of 80 hours per month working, undergoing job training or getting a formal education in order to receive Healthy Michigan benefits. By comparison, the average full-time employee works 160 hours per month.

“Michigan’s economy is healthy and jobs are plentiful, so now is the best time for people who have habitually not been looking for work to rejoin the talent pool and reap the benefits of their skills and labor,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “I’m pleased that we were able to get this done and I’m grateful to the governor and everyone else who helped see this through.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job openings has surpassed the number of people counted as unemployed for the first time since record-keeping began. BLS numbers also show that re-entrants, people who were previously not looking for work, are consistently one of the largest groups entering the workforce.

The bill only applies to Healthy Michigan recipients and has a wide variety of exemptions, which include seniors citizens, pregnant women, caretakers of children under age six, people with disabilities and their caregivers, the medically frail, people with medical conditions that impact their ability to work, and others.

Shirkey said the exemptions and the many choices for how to maintain benefits are designed to protect people in most need while encouraging Healthy Michigan recipients toward work.

“We always planned for a workforce engagement component like this,” Shirkey said. “It’s a commonsense approach to improving the lives of the plan recipients and keeping the program itself sustainable over time. Read past the alarmist headlines.”

Michigan will now work with the federal government on a waiver to implement the program. Once the state receives a waiver, changes to Medicaid benefits will in January 2020.