LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Joe Hune, R-Fowlerville, voted Thursday to support a workforce engagement requirement for Medicaid benefits.
The new rules would require able-bodied adults between ages 19-64 to spend an average of 29 hours a week working, receiving job training, or getting formal education to receive Medicaid benefits.
Michigan joins three other states that have waivers approved to require workforce engagement for Medicaid and many other states are lining up get similar waivers approved.
“Making people reliant on the government for life’s necessities does not empower them or improve their situation,” Hune said. “I heard a lot of absurd language calling this bill disgraceful. What I think is truly disgraceful is trapping people in a cycle of poverty and victimhood so that they have no choice but to relinquish their God-given freedom to certain politicians who genuinely disdain them.”
Hune voted against the 2013 expansion of Medicaid benefits in Michigan that allowed citizens above the poverty line to enroll in the program. At the time, only 400,000 new people were expected to sign up, but currently Medicaid enrollment has ballooned to over 700,000.
“Michigan’s economy is roaring back, the leadership in both Washington and Lansing have cut taxes, and the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 15 years,” Hune said. “Now is the time either to enter the workforce or to seek out the education or training that will enable someone to do so.”
Hune added that with more people engaged in productive work, there would be fewer costs associated with Medicaid.
“If we can sensibly stem the ever-increasing costs of government programs like Medicaid, we have an obligation to do so,” Hune said. “The measure of success for welfare programs should be how many people no longer need them.”
Senate Bill 897 includes many exceptions for circumstances such as pregnancy, illness, medical caregiving, disability, substance abuse treatment, deaths in the family, and others.
The bill now goes to the Michigan House of Representatives for consideration.