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Health insurance work requirement goes to governor, who is expected to sign

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A work requirement for some people on Medicaid in Michigan is on the verge of becoming law. The Senate sent the bill to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk today, and despite earlier reluctance he's now signaling his support for the plan.

The bill would require able-bodied people to work, go to school, or do job training for 80 hours a month in order to get their health insurance.

“We want to make certain as I’ve been clear that welfare benefits are a hand up not a hand out," said Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt. "We want to make certain that we’re helping people. We’re not keeping them in this vicious cycle of assistance.”            

The bill passed mostly along party lines with Republicans in favor. But Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, broke with her party.

“I still had concerns that unintentionally some Michiganders who are working, who are doing their best, were going to drop off,” she said, adding that she’s also concerned about the lack of a solid estimate on the cost of implementing the requirement.

Previous versions of the bill were more sweeping and would have applied to everyone on Medicare. As the bill made its way through the Legislature, exemptions were added and the amount of required work was reduced. But critics say that still isn’t enough.

“Even with all the changes this legislation has made in the chamber down the hall, it’s still a turd," said Sen. Coleman Young, D-Detroit. "A shiny turd. But a turd nonetheless.”

 

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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