Legally Suspect Medicaid Waiver Project Approved for Michigan

Legally Suspect Medicaid Waiver Project Approved for Michigan

Trump HHS Allows for Work-Reporting Mandate, Premium Hikes, and So-Called “Healthy Behavior” Requirements

Washington – Amidst a background of chaos in Washington, the Trump administration continues its campaign to approve legally suspect Medicaid waiver projects, the latest coming from Michigan. As in other states, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has approved a waiver package that includes a work-reporting mandate that will push thousands of individuals out of the program, as well as heavy premiums and a poorly conceived and coercive “healthy behavior” requirement.

National Health Law Program Legal Director Jane Perkins said HHS Secretary Alex Azar has once again usurped congressional authority in regards to Medicaid.

“Congress long ago defined the scope of the Secretary’s power to waive portions of the Medicaid Act, and that scope is limited. Secretary Azar’s actions are yet one more example of the administration ignoring the rule of law in its effort to explode the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Had Congress intended for Medicaid to be a work program it would have said so.”

Beyond the work-reporting mandate, Michigan’s project includes two other provisions that will negatively affect low-income individuals and families said Managing Attorney  Sarah Somers.

“The administration has approved Michigan’s scheme to charge premiums of up to 5 percent of a family’s income. While that might not sound like a lot of money to some people, even modest premium increases for low-income people mean the difference between seeing a doctor and forgoing care. Have no doubt, premiums are a real financial hardship and people will suffer if they are allowed to go into effect.” Somers added that the Michigan approval also includes a ‘healthy behavior’ requirement which contains a number of coercive and legally suspect elements.

The National Health Law Program is leading litigation against similar waiver projects in Kentucky and Arkansas. National Health Law Program also filed comments with HHS objecting to the waivers in Indiana, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin.

Please contact the National Health Law Program Communications Department at leaming@healthlaw.org or 301-233-0867 for additional comment from Perkins or Somers.

National Health Law Program, founded in 1969, advocates for the rights of low-income and underserved people to access quality health care.

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