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Requiring work for Medical Assistance will have serious unintended consequences

This policy, if passed, will have a devastating effect on the mental health community.

On April 9, I had the pleasure to join around 1,100 individuals for Social Work Day on the Hill. As a social worker, working within the mental health hospital setting, I’m constantly reminded about the significance that health insurance plays in receiving quality support. Recently, a debate was ignited on whether it’s appropriate to require that people work, at least 80 hours per month, to be eligible to receive Medical Assistance. The debate has reached Minnesota in the form of House File 3722, which was authored by Kurt Duadt, the House speaker.

This policy, if passed, will have a devastating effect on the mental health community; subsequently, it will have a large impact on the taxpayers within the state of Minnesota. It is in my experience, that patients who are experiencing mental health crises either are working or want to gain employment. If these individuals cannot access the mental health care they need, they will be at an increased risk to lose their current job or be unable to work within a timely manner. The mental health population already faces tumultuous experiences, as the importance of mental health is seen as less than physical health.

I want to reiterate that if this bill passes, individuals will begin to utilize the emergency room more frequently, as well as not utilizing preventive measures to prevent mental health crises that need more extensive services, that increase the time it takes to become stable, and that require a larger amount of money. This will put a strain on taxpayers as preventive and proactive medical health provide the safety needed for people to gain and maintain employment. I urge people to be informed on the unintended consequences of this bill and talk with their legislators about solutions.

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