Mary Anne Hering: Stop Gutting Medicaid!

The Michigan legislature is getting ready to pass a bill which will cut many people from Medicaid. These well-fed legislators – who show up to work in the state legislature only 94 days out of a whole year and who get top-shelf medical coverage from the state for themselves and their families – want to require all “able-bodied” adults to work 29 hours every week in order to qualify for Medicaid.

It’s an outrage – and it’s being pushed by blatant lies, the vicious propaganda that people on Medicaid are lazy. The purpose is not to get people into full-time jobs, it’s to cut people off of Medicaid.

People on Medicaid who could work are already working. Less than 7% of the “able-bodied” are without a job today. (See the Kaiser Family Foundation for full information.)

But many people work less than 29 hours because they can’t get a full-time job, only part-time. Or they work temporary jobs, with no set number of hours – even in the big auto plants. And people can’t find jobs today. Flex-N-Gate, a company supplying parts for Ford, has received 16,370 applications – so far – to fill 496 jobs at a plant that will not even open for another five months. And wages are so low that many people qualify for Medicaid. That’s the reality we face.

This new law is a hatchet job, designed to gut social programs in order to pay for tax breaks handed out to wealthy people and the corporations. Every tax break for the wealthy and every corporate subsidy has been paid for by cuts to programs needed by the population – including health care, education and roads.

This legislation may have been pushed by the Republicans, but anyone who believes the Democrats can be counted on is living in a dream world. Remember, the first such laws – work requirements for welfare – were pushed through by the Democratic Bill Clinton administration.

There are reasonable answers to this problem. One, require every company that makes a profit to offer permanent full-time jobs to their temporary and part-time workers. Two, require every company that makes a profit to decent medical coverage for every worker. Then workers wouldn’t need Medicaid!

Why not? These companies are making enormous profit off the labor of every worker. Take part of that profit to benefit the people who do the work.

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