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Michigan Gov. Whitmer cheers Medicaid work ruling

Governor Gretchen Whitmer addresses the media recently.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Governor Gretchen Whitmer addresses the media recently.

A federal court has struck down Michigan’s requirement that adults enrolled in the Healthy Michigan plan must be working or in school, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature’s Republican leaders are at odds on what to do next.

The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. said the Medicaid expansion is to ensure health care for low-income people, not a jobs program. The ruling came down as the state was preparing to send notices next week to 80,000 people warning that their benefits are at risk.

Whitmer said she’ll be glad not to send them.

“And I’m grateful that a decision came in such a timely way so that we haven’t created a lot of unnecessary anxiety and waste of taxpayer dollars,” she said.

Whitmer had asked the court for an expedited ruling following a similar ruling in a challenge to Arkansas’ work requirements.

But Republicans saaid Whitmer should not move too quickly to un-do the work requirement.

“It’s alright to put it in neutral. I just wouldn’t put it in reverse,” said state Sen. Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford), who chairs the Senate human services budget subcommittee.

MacGregor said the decision will probably be appealed, and he wants to wait until a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.