Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed a motion on Tuesday for a partial summary judgement in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia after work requirements for Medicaid in Arkansas, similar to Michigan’s program, were found to be unlawful.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia upheld a lower court’s ruling that work requirements for Arkansas’ Medicaid program were illegal because Medicaid’s primary objective is to provide health care coverage.
Whitmer’s office said on Tuesday that this ruling “leaves little doubt” that Michigan’s similar requirements are also unlawful. The requirements have previously been challenged.
“I’m fighting to protect health care because everyone deserves access to quality, affordable care,” Whitmer said in a statement on Tuesdsay. “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia recently struck down a law just like Michigan’s. Since it’s inevitable that the courts will also find Michigan’s work requirements unlawful, we should not move forward with implementation. Doing so would waste millions of taxpayer dollars and cause senseless confusion for tens of thousands of families.”
The Healthy Michigan Plan, Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program, benefits more than 600,000 Michigan residents, according to The Detroit News. Work requirements mandating that enrollees of the plan work at least 80 hours a month, get job training or pursue formal education in order to keep their coverage were passed in June 2018 and took effect at the beginning of this year.
Beneficiaries who are not exempt from the requirements must fail to meet them for three months before risking loss of their coverage. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services plans to send a notice to more than 80,000 people who are currently not meeting guidelines, The Detroit News said.
Although Whitmer is calling on the court to rule as quickly as possible, she has also asked the Michigan legislature to pass legislation suspending Medicaid work requirements.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said that keeping the work requirements would be “throwing away taxpayer money” in enforcement and clarification.
“The purpose of the Medicaid program is to make sure that people have health care coverage for when they need medical treatment,” Nessel said in a statement. “The federal courts have already found that these work requirements hinder that purpose, rather than advance it. With the court’s most recent ruling in a related case, it is just a matter of time until Michigan’s work requirements are no longer enforceable.”
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]
Photo “Gretchen Whitmer” by Julia Pickett. CC BY-SA 4.0.