Report: Exemptions for Medicaid work requirements would disproportionately impact people of color

May 14, 2018

A provision in the Republican-lead bill to create Medicaid work requirements would disproportionately impact communities of color in Michigan, according to an analysis by the Washington Post.

Senate Bill 897 creates Medicaid work requirements but exempts counties with unemployment rates higher than 8.5%.

Emily Schwarzkopf is with the Michigan League for Public Policy. She said the exemptions are unfairly distributed.

“The unemployment rate is high in Detroit but just because Wayne counties unemployment rate is lower the people of Detroit are still going to struggle.”

Analysis by the Washington Post found that while whites make up 57 percent of the population that could be impacted by work requirements, they made up 85 percent of those eligible for a work requirement exemption.

African Americans made up 25 percent of the population that could be impacted by work requirements but only 1.2 percent of people eligible for exemption.

Schwarzkopf said lawmakers have an obligation to fix the discrepancy.

“It’s very clear that the districts that were exempted tended to be Republican districts and that could give some Republicans cover to vote for this legislation knowing their area wouldn’t be affected as directly but now that this issue has been raised the legislature has an obligation to fix it.”

She said the state should not be trying to enact work requirements in the first place.

“We know that most people on Medicaid are already working and those that aren’t working face chronic health conditions or they have trouble getting to and from their job. We should be doing things that improve our healthcare system and not make it harder for people to be healthy and support their families.”

A spokesperson for Republican Senator Mike Shirkey, who introduced the bill, said the Senator is currently working on changes to the legislation.

The bill has passed out of the Michigan Senate and has been referred to a House committee.