Sen. Shirkey’s Medicaid workforce engagement bill passes Senate

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate passed legislation on Thursday to boost workforce engagement among Medicaid recipients, said Sen. Mike Shirkey, the sponsor of the bill.

Senate Bill 897 would require adults between ages 19-64 to spend an average of 29 hours a week working, undergoing job training or getting formal education to receive Medicaid benefits.

“There’s going to be a lot of misinformation about this bill, but it’s really a positive thing for everyone — including those currently on Medicaid,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “The people who need it most will not be impacted by this bill at all, and everyone can maintain their Medicaid benefits if they participate in one of the many options for work or education.”

The bill provides exemptions from the new rules for numerous groups of people, including seniors, pregnant women, caretakers of children under age 6, people with disabilities and their caregivers, the medically frail, people with medical conditions that impact their ability to work, and others.

Temporary exemptions would be given for certain circumstances like the birth or death of a family member, temporary illness or injury, or a family emergency.

“As Americans we should view poverty as a state of being, not a class of people,” Shirkey said. “This is still the land of opportunity, and it’s our duty as public leaders to foster an environment where individuals have the freedom to earn a rewarding living through good work.”

The earliest the plan could be implemented with approval from the federal government would be October 2019. No changes to Medicaid benefits would occur before then.

SB 897 now heads to the Michigan House for consideration.