Michigan To Poors: Get Jobs Or Lose Medicaid (Unless You Are White)
Remember when the Trump Administration did us that big favor of allowing states to “reform” Medicaid to add work requirements? Now, don't get all hot and bothered! They exempted the disabled and the pregnant, so they simply do not understand why people don't locate some old bootstraps, get off their lazy asses and find a right to work job at minimum wage.
Medicaid, a program created to provide healthcare to the poor and disabled among us, has long been a lifeline for communities in need. And since it helps people in need, you know, “the takers,” Republicans have been desperate to find ways to END THAT ENTITLEMENT SHIT RIGHT NOW!!! And on that note, the CMS (Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services) sent out a letter back in January that we discussed here, about their grand plan to allow states to add a work requirement to Medicaid. What a relief! Everyone who was worried that poor people might be using all that delicious healthcare that they can’t pay for can relax! We will make them work until dead for you.
Now we all know how easy it is for poor people to find jobs in America, especially in cities that have super high unemployment, deeply entrenched poverty, white flight, and failing industries, right? So much economic opportunity. Let’s take a look a Michigan, a state following in the footsteps of Alabama, which recently added a work requirement for their state.
Michigan, how you doing? Senate Bill 897, which recently passed the state Senate in Lansing, imposes a work requirement of 30 hours per week, to be reported every 30 days, or POOR PEOPLE LOSE THEIR HEALTH COVERAGE AND MAYBE DIE. But not only is the bill cruel and horribly unkind to Michiganders, as we would expect, it is also very much racist (okay, as we would also expect).
How is it racist? Glad you asked. People in counties with high unemployment are exempt from the work requirement, while those in low unemployment counties have to meet the criteria. With me so far? Well, high population cities that are heavily black -- like Detroit, located in Wayne County -- are actually in low unemployment zones, and therefore will not be exempted from working 30 hours a week at a job that does not exist. Also, low unemployment rural areas that are in high unemployment counties still get exemptions even though jobs are not as scarce as in Flint or Detroit. And who lives in the rural counties that somehow just got lucky enough to receive an exemption? White people, of course!
Columnist Nancy Kaffer breaks it on down for us:
Because although HB 897 threatens to end Medicaid benefits for hundreds of thousands living elsewhere in the state, it includes exemptions for people who live in counties with an unemployment rate of more than 8.5%, like the ones [state Senator Wayne] Schmidt represents.
Live in Detroit? You're out of luck.
The city's unemployment rate is higher than 8.5%, but the unemployment rate in surrounding Wayne County is just 5.5% — meaning Detroiters living in poverty, with a dysfunctional transit system that makes it harder to reach good-paying jobs, won't qualify for that exemption. The same is true in Flint and the state's other struggling cities.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Michigan state Senator Wayne Schmidt, represents Cheboygan and Chippewa counties, places with high unemployment, made very very sure his white rural constituents would get the social safety net they're entitled to. While other areas in his state might feel the pain from this bill, his residents are safe. And very white. They are safe because he made sure to give exemptions to his poors in the Senate bill, while completely ignoring the hardships of the poors in areas like Flint and Detroit. THIS IS A FEATURE, NOT A BUG. Schmidt and his fellow Republicans crafted their bill as carefully as Texas gerrymanders. We wish we could count on our state governments not to go full Jim Crow every chance they get, but in the age of Trump, we doubt our wishes will be fulfilled any time soon. We fully expect more states to follow in the footsteps of Michigan and Alabama, and we also fully expect people to die because of it.
Just not white people, because white people need a hand UP, not a hand OUT, right?
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