Michigan Republicans have pending legislation that would make our state’s Medicaid rules, as LOLGOP put it, “the most regressive requirements in the entire nation.” They would force hundreds of thousands of poor residents to either find a job that will allow them to work no fewer than 29 hours a week or they’d lose their benefits. It would also impose a four-year cap on benefits. This could result in over 100,000 Michiganders being thrown off this crucial support.
They know that Gov. Rick Snyder is unlikely to sign their bill into law so, rather than coming together with him and Democrats in the legislature to craft a compromise, they’ve decided to resort to blackmail:
The Senate on Thursday approved a $56.6 billion budget that would suspend salaries for Director Nick Lyon and other top officials in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services if the Snyder administration does not request and secure a federal waiver to implement Medicaid work requirements. […]
The budget includes a separate provision directing the state to end expanded eligibility for residents who earn between 100 percent and 133 percent of the federal poverty level after they’ve been on the Healthy Michigan plan for 48 months, eliminating an option to extend coverage by completing healthy behaviors. […]
Under the budget, the state would withhold a combined $294,000 in salaries from “unclassified” employees in the state health department until a work requirement waiver is submitted. The state would withhold another $294,000 unless or until the federal government approves the waiver.
Current unclassified employees include Lyon, Senior Assistant Nancy Grijalva, Chief Medical Executive Eden Wells, senior communications deputy Geralyn Lasher and Cindy Kelly, a design coordinator at the state-operated Caro Center psychiatric hospital, department spokesman Bob Wheaton said.
As Charles Gaba at ACASignUps.net puts it, “They aren’t threatening Snyder and [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema] Verma themselves…they’re actually holding the salaries of five state employees hostage”, refusing to release them until both Gov. Snyder and Administrator Verma agree to their demands.
Don’t forget that this is in addition to the fact that 12 of the 14 legislators representing the 17 counties which would be exempted from the GOP work requirements just happen to be Republicans.
I’ve seen Michigan Republicans do some pretty outrageous things over the years — like restoring our Emergency Manager law just weeks after voters overturned it — but this is the most egregious and despicable thing I have seen them do in a very long time. As Sen. Curtis Hertel, a Democrat from East Lansing, the move is “severely unconstitutional”. I look forward to seeing these pawns in Gov. Snyder’s administration sue the pants off the state if they try to move forward with their hostage/ransom/blackmail plan.