Seminar reveals details in MDHHS new work requirements

GENESEE COUNTY — Hoping to alleviate anxiety and ensure a smooth transition, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) held an informational seminar for clients, social workers and other individuals who work with the Healthy Michigan population and need information on the new work requirements as laid down by the state legislature recently.

One of the most clarifying pieces of information the public needs to know said State Assistant Administrator Phil Kurdunowicz, Medical Services Administration is that the work requirements do not apply to beneficiaries of regular Medicaid or those who are enrolled in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program) or TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

The almost 650,000 beneficiaries enrolled in Healthy Michigan are in a different category, Kurdunowicz said and is primarily made up of childless adults of working age (between ages 19-64) who are not eligible for other coverage. People who are unsure of what type of coverage they have can find out by calling their health plan (on their member card), the state beneficiary help line or on the state online portal, mibridges . “ACA” and “Obamacare” are also known as the Healthy Michigan Plan.

MDHHS says they intend to excuse or exempt approximately 80,000 members who they already have information showing they meet the requirements for work or other exceptions. They should receive a notice of their excused status no later than Jan. 21, 2020.

The rules do not apply to those collecting a pension or Social Security Disability or pension funds, nor for anyone working at least 80 hours a month at a minimum wage job.

Last year, a request for work requirements as a condition of coverage when the state renewed its Medicaid expansion, was approved by the Trump administration through the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Services.

The changes begin January 2020 and reporting begins Feb. 1, 2020. Unless excused, recipients have to report monthly, although the documentation requirements are minimal, MDHHS intends to select approximately ten percent of reporters for additional documentation submission to ensure compliance with the rules.

Non-reporting for three months (per calendar year) will result in a suspension notification and termination of the health coverage at the end of the following month; although retroactive ‘cure’ of non-reporting can occur up to 60 days late but it’s not recommended due to the loss of coverage. If no retroactive reports are received, the benefit will be suspended for one month and the client can then re-enroll if they are eligible.

There are also multiple definitions of work, and it includes regular or self-employment, or having similar income such as cash paid work, rental or pension income of at least $772 per month. Full-time students are excused as well as those completing 80 hours of job training via their employer or outside their employer, including apprenticeships or clinical hours for medical programs and unpaid internships.

Also, those who are currently participating in substance abuse treatment and counseling or recovery support programs, whether court ordered or not. Volunteering and community service also count but is limited to 3 month per year and must be with a 501(c)3 or (c)4 organization.

Job searching online or by other means, creating a resume, interviews, and similar activities are also counted and participants don’t have to document each individual hour but have some evidence of such activities. All beneficiaries need to maintain documentation of their work status for 6 months to a year Kurdunowicz said.

Unlike other programs compliance will not be handled through the social workers, but through a centralized office to encourage consistency in applying the rules. There will be a special phone line to find out their status starting Feb. 1 with both automated and live personnel options.

The new work rules are opposed by two cooperative groups, the Center for Civil Justice (CCJ) and the Michigan Poverty Law Program who are seeking plaintiffs who feel the rules are unfair. Similar work requirement legislation has been struck down in several states and the two groups state they hope by suing they will help ensure coverage for Michigan’s Healthy Michigan Program.

Residents who anticipate having difficulty meeting the requirements can contact them at (810)244-8044 (ext. 303) or 734-998-6100 (ext. 617). A PowerPoint covering the entire seminar is available at: Healthy_ Michigan_ Plan_ Presentation_-_ Regional_ Forums_-_ Version_ for_ Website_ 669840_ 7.pdf

Other excused conditions can be found on the website at: healthymiplan/0,5668,7-326-90904_ 90941—,00.html. The state will have new applications coming out later this year which will include reporting of work or exemption status. Individuals who need help can seek assistance from MDHHS community partners who can be found at: newmibridges. US . The exemption form is located at: documents/healthymiplan/MSA-1905-MDHHS_ Exemption_ Form_ 665327_ 7.pdf