Four enrollees in Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in an effort to stop Michigan from implementing Medicaid work requirements January 1, 2020.
The new rules will require abled-bodied adults ages 19 through 61 who want coverage in the state’s Medicaid expansion plan to prove workforce engagement averaging 80 hours a month. They will be able to do so through work, school, training, substance abuse treatment or community service.
Those exempt from the requirement include pregnant mothers, individuals with disabilities, caretakers of children under age 6 and people who have a medical condition that results in a work limitation.
These new regulations could impact over 270,00 of the 670,000 participants covered by the state’s Medicaid expansion, which the state established under the Obama-era health law to expand coverage to low-income adults who weren’t eligible before.
“It’s not hyperbole to say that this law will lead to illness and death for individuals who lose their health care coverage,” said Lisa Ruby, an attorney with the Michigan Poverty Law Program, one of three advocacy groups representing the enrollees who are seeking class-action status.
“Congress requires waivers to further Medicaid’s stated objective of furnishing medical assistance,” said Jane Perkins, legal director of the National Health Law Program. “We filed this case because the federal government, once again, has ignored these limits in its effort to fundamentally transform Medicaid and ‘explode’ the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of health coverage for the medically necessary services that low-income people need.”
Kelly L. Bidelman, executive director of the Michigan Center for Civil Justice, one of the groups behind the lawsuit, said that many people that are subject to the new rules are already working or unable to work.
“Implementing work requirements will result in thousands losing health care. Many Michiganders who receive health care through the plan are already working or face barriers to working, such as lack of affordable child care or lack of transportation,” she said.
Republicans argue that the rules will help participants achieve self-sufficiency and fill job openings.