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New Medicaid Work Requirements are just one aspect of the class war that the West Michigan Policy Forum is waging throughout the state

January 21, 2020

The new Medicaid work requirements are set to begin this week in Michigan. The new law, which was signed by former Governor Rick Snyder, will require those receiving medicaid benefits to work at least 80 hours a month in order to continue to receive those benefits.

This policy has been promoted by the West Michigan Policy Forum for several years and they recently wrote the following on their Facebook page

Michigan’s new Medicaid work requirement will boost the state’s economy and help guide able-bodied participants in the Medicaid expansion program on a path to economic self-sufficiency.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce cites a state “workforce shortage and talent gap” that leaves as many as 100,000 jobs currently unfilled.

Work requirements “could help employers with their labor shortages and create a pathway for independence for enrollees,” Wendy Block, the chamber’s vice president of business advocacy, told Bridge Magazine.

It is no surprise that the Michigan Chamber of Commerce would also endorse this policy as they are always seeking to reduce government spending that benefits working class people. The West Michigan Policy Forum argument is that these new Medicaid work requirements will help people become “economically self-sufficient.

Of course, the notion that economic self-sufficiency only applies to those who are suffering from the exploitative and brutal economic policies of Neo-liberal capitalism, which punishes the poor and rewards the rich. Never mind that the tax systems benefits the wealthy and never mind that corporations in Michigan also receive tax breaks and massive subsidies, otherwise known as corporate welfare.

This most recent policy further demonstrates the cruelty of those who promote these policies, the West Michigan Policy Forum, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Each of these entities have been pushing policies, like Medicaid work requirements, all in the name of fiscal responsibility.

Recently, Senate Majority leader Mike Shirkey has said that health officials have had enough time to let the residents of Michigan know about these new requirements. Shirkey, who sponsored the 2018 work rule law regarding Medicaid, says “the implementation can’t happen fast enough.” 

It is no surprise that Senator Shirkey is bankrolled by the some the wealthiest individuals and large corporations in Michigan. In fact, two of the top three contributors to Mike Shirkey from 2011 to the present are both from Grand Rapids and members of the West Michigan Policy Forum. John Kennedy, the CEO of Autocam has contributed $200,000 to Shirkey and the DeVos family has contributed $71,000, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

There are already legal complaints that have been submitted in the Michigan courts over this policy, and according to a recent article from the Michigan Advance, most of the states that have implemented Medicaid work requirements have either, “suspended or delayed them as a direct result of litigation or as a way to avoid it.”

This policy is not only cruel, it contributes to further undermining government safety nets for the most vulnerable people in our society. The Medicaid work requirements are consistent with what the West Michigan Policy Forum promotes in terms of labor policy, which includes:

  • Maintain Michigan’s Freedom to Work Status
  • Repeal of the Prevailing Wage mandate
  • Grow Michigan’s Labor Participation rate – Addition of Medicaid work requirements for able-bodied adults
  • Paid Sick Leave Reform (Defense)
  • Minimum Wage Reform (Defense)

The West Michigan Policy Board of Directors is made up of the wealthiest and most powerful powerful people in the area, including Doug DeVos, Mike VanGessel, Michael Jandernoa, John Kennedy, Peter Secchia, J.C. Huizenga and Rick Baker, just to name a few. These people are waging a class war on communities of color, working class people and other vulnerable members of society. These people have addresses and must be stopped! 

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