Medicaid for…White People?

That’s the way things are heading in the state of Michigan, where the federal government just gave the state permission to impose a work requirement on many Medicaid recipients and the state legislature is trying to decide how to implement such a requirement.

It’s a little complicated, but here’s the story.

Because unemployment is high in parts of Michigan, according to a proposal the state legislature is considering, people who live in counties where the unemployment rate is greater than 8.5 percent wouldn’t have to meet the Medicaid work requirement.  The rationale is that if there are already so many people out of work, it probably doesn’t make sense to penalize people for not working.

But people who live in counties where the unemployment rate is less than 8.5 percent would have to meet the requirement because in theory, if the unemployment rate is that low – although since when is eight percent a low unemployment rate? – people need to suck it up and get jobs.

The result:  in 17 Michigan counties that are mostly white and mostly rural and all represented by Republicans in the state legislature, Medicaid recipients would be exempt from any Medicaid work requirement.

But Medicaid recipients who live in six cities with some of the highest unemployment rates in the state and some of the highest proportions of minority residents in the state would be subject to the Medicaid work requirement.


Because those cities are located within counties where the unemployment rate is less than 8.5 percent – mostly because those poor cities, with their large minority populations, are surrounded by more well-to-do suburbs.  So people who live in Detroit, for example, would be subject to the requirement because while the unemployment rate in Detroit is now, depending on your source, somewhere between 8.7 percent and 9.5 percent, or about twice the state average (currently 4.7 percent, although on the campaign trail, didn’t Trump insist that inner-city unemployment was two or three times higher than the “official” count?), the unemployment rate in Wayne County, in which Detroit is located, is only 5.5 percent.

The bill to establish such a policy was written by a white member of the state legislature.  And where did he get the idea for the 8.5 percent unemployment threshold? From the Michigan Chamber of Commerce (you see:  The Curmudgeon told you that chambers of commerce are not the good guys).

So what you have, unless someone smacks the state legislature in     its collective face and makes it come to its senses, will be Medicaid for white people in Michigan.

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