A northern Michigan lawmaker is defending legislation that would require people to work to qualify for Medicaid. Opponents of the bill say it would unfairly affect African Americans living in cities.
People who live in counties with high unemployment would be exempt from the Medicaid work requirement as long as they’re looking for a job.
If the bill passed today, all the areas exempted would be in rural, mostly white counties.
Cities like Detroit and Flint, which have high unemployment and are predominantly black, would not be exempt. That’s because the counties they have lower unemployment overall.
State Senator Wayne Schmidt of Traverse City, a co-sponsor of the bill, said accusations of racial bias are false.
He said people in places like Mackinac County face unique challenges to employment, different than those in urban areas.
“For example, I’ve been a big proponent of public transit, granted the Metro Detroit area public transit isn’t everything it should be," said Sen. Schmidt. "But many of our counties in northern Michigan and the U.P. don’t have any transit.”
The legislation passed the Senate and is currently in the House.