When Michigan’s Legislature passed a bill to expand Medicaid in Michigan in 2013, due to the Affordable Care Act aka SCOTUSCARE, they put in that bill a sweetener.

According to an article in the Michigan Capitol Confidential, the bill contained a section “requiring hospitals that were contracted by the state to provide managed care services under Medicaid to offer 'healthy behavior' incentives for new enrollees.”

The problem is that the Obama administration did not allow states to impose any “meaningful deductible or copay requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries.”

So, what did Michigan’s elected politicians do? They offered their own sweetener.

That sweetener became a $50 Wal-Mart gift card for Medicaid clients who, in essence, “follow the doctor’s orders.”

Michigan is giving people these $50 Wal-Mart cards to people who simply do what they are supposed to do for their own health — and that is follow the doctor’s orders.

Do you get a $50 Wal-Mart card for following your doctor’s orders?

According to the article, “The law leaves the exact form of an incentive up to the discretion of the officials who negotiate the managed care contracts between the state and the hospitals that provide almost all Medicaid services in Michigan. While the state doesn’t itself purchase or give out any Wal-Mart gift cards, their cost is baked into the Medicaid managed care contracts.”

So essentially we are or will be paying for that $50 Wal-Mart card?

By the way, why Wal-Mart?

Why not some other business? Is this not our politicians showing favor to one business over another?

Jennifer Smith, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, is quoted in the article saying, hospitals must “provide a $50 gift card to … beneficiaries who earn less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level, have met with a primary care provider, and have agreed to address or maintain healthy behaviors.”

Smith went on to say, “We want to see the newly insured connecting with primary care providers and understanding how to use their benefits so they can take steps to improve their overall health and wellness.”

Some opponents say the Wal-Mart gift card will cause increased dependency, deeper intrusions by the state into the deeply personal affairs of private citizens, and the potential for beneficiaries to work the system in ways that undermine its intentions.

Does this sound like a good idea to you?

In the long run will this cost the taxpayer of Michigan less money because Medicaid recipients will eventually become healthier?

What are your thoughts?

Let’s discuss this today on my show The Live with Renk show, which airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon, to let me know your thoughts at (269) 441-9595.

Or please feel free to start a discussion and write your thoughts in the comment section.

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