Breastfeeding - Good for Babies and Moms!

Join MDHHS-WIC and The Michigan Breastfeeding Awareness Network for the Breastfeeding Awareness Walk on August 8, 2018 from 11:30am-2pm in Lansing on the Capitol Lawn. Help normalize breastfeeding!

There are so many great reasons to breastfeed! And so much research to support how healthy it is! 

Good for Babies!    

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Breastfeeding is good for babies. In the first few days after baby is born, mothers make colostrum, a thick yellowish milk filled with antibodies and protein that are "liquid gold" for baby's first few days. Breastfed babies are less likely to get sick and have fewer digestive problems. When baby's immunities are at their lowest between 2 to 6 months, it's especially important that mom's antibodies and anti-viruses are passed along through breastfeeding. Breastfed babies are smarter and do better in school. There are so many good reasons for your baby to breastfeed. 

Good for Mothers!

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Breastfeeding is also good for mothers. Breastfeeding helps new mothers relax.  When nursing, a hormone called prolactin, known as the mothering hormone, is produced. Another hormone, oxytocin, released shortly after birth, helps the uterus contract and return to its pre-pregnant size. Breastfeeding helps mom and baby bond and feel close. Breastfeeding helps reduce a mother's risk of developing certain cancers. And breast feeding is cheap. At one year, a breastfed baby will save between $900 and $2,160 dollars on formula.  

There's Help Available!

WIC (Women, Infants and Children)

Here in Washtenaw County, WIC is an excellent resource for breastfeeding. WIC (Women, Infants and Children) has many breastfeeding support programs for moderate to low income families. WIC's programs for pregnant women and families with children up to age 5 include:

  • Peer to Peer breastfeeding counselors 
  • Lactation consultants for breastfeeding support
  • Free breast pumps for mothers returning to work or school 
  • Food as food packages or Project Fresh booklets ($25 to spend at local farmer's markets)
  • Nutrition counseling including health care referrals and immunizations
  • WIC Connect app to help you connect with WIC services 

To contact WIC (?should this clarify that this is contacting the WIC peer counselors, not the main WIC number?), you can call 734-544-2995, email yourbreastfriends@gmail.com or connect through their Breastfeeding support facebook page @WashtenawWICBF.  

 

Marketplace (healthcare.gov) and other ACA-Compliant Insurance

Health insurance plans must provide breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding. These services may be provided before and after birth.  This applies to Marketplace plans and all other health insurance plans, except for grandfathered plans.

These health insurance plans must also cover the cost of a breast pump. It may be either a rental unit or a new one you’ll keep. Your plan may have guidelines on whether the covered pump is manual or electric, the length of the rental, and when you’ll receive it (before or after birth). It’s up to you and your doctor to decide what's right for you.

 

La Leche League of Ann Arbor

La Leche League of Ann Arbor provides support and education for breastfeeding moms. Check out their facebook page! 

 

Washtenaw County Breastfeeding Coalition

Washtenaw County Breastfeeding Coalition is a group of volunteers made up of doctors, hospital based IBCLCs, WIC breastfeeding coordinators, peer counselors, private practice IBCLCs, La Leche League Leaders, birth and postpartum doulas, Certified Lactation Counselors, public health workers, dieticians, nurses, mothers, fathers, caregivers, business owners, and anyone else who is interested in promoting and supporting breastfeeding in the local area.

 

Maternal Infant Health Program (MIHP)

Maternal Infant Health Program (MIHP) is a home visiting program for pregnant women and infants with Medicaid. Services include education, service coordination, support, breastfeeding and nutrition support and referrals. To enroll, call 734-544-2984 or 734-544-9749 or ask your doctor for a referral.

 

 

As always if you have questions or need help with healthcare coverage, please call the Washtenaw Health Plan 734-544-3030. Or you can leave a comment/question below! 

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WHP Staff Profile: Tonya South Peterson

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Tonya South Peterson is celebrating 20 years as a county employee.  For the last two years, Tonya has been an enrollment specialist at the Washtenaw Health Plan.  Tonya started her career after being noticed by a former nursing director.  Tonya worked at a photography lab where the director had her photos developed and noticed the excellent customer service Tonya provided.  After seeing her interact with a particularly difficult customer, the director mentioned a job opening in the Maternal Infant Health Program and the rest is history!  Tonya spent two and a half years as a Maternal Infant Health Advocate before moving to Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to become an eligibility and enrollment specialist for 15 years.  

Tonya loves working with children and families.  Her work at Washtenaw County Health Department gives her a "great sense of satisfaction in helping others."  At WIC, she got to know many families and is always happy to see them at the WHP office.  Through her years at WIC, Tonya had many roles in addition to enrollment and eligibility but enjoyed the families and children the most.  At WHP, Tonya enjoys helping clients with their healthcare and many other issues.  Tonya expertly assists people with utility assistance through the state assistance programs and Barrier Busters.  Tonya enjoys the camaraderie and walk-in atmosphere at WHP.  Spending more time with clients and helping with a wide range of problems is just one of the things she loves about her job.  

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In 2002, Tonya became a union steward and continues to work protecting employee rights and job security.  Tonya is also trained in medical insurance billing, procurement, expenses and inventory, and while at WIC she performed quality assessments and trainings for the WIC office.  After attending Washtenaw Community College years ago, Tonya has returned to pursue a degree in Social Work. She received the highest grade ever achieved in her psychology class!  She is looking forward to learning and having more opportunities as she completes her degree.  

Tonya is celebrating 25 years with her husband, has four children and two grandchildren. She has lived in Washtenaw County since she was six years old and considers herself a Michigander.  In her free time, she loves to spend time celebrating holidays with her family.  She loves to read suspense thrillers--Dean Koontz is a favorite.  She also loves the writings of Toni Morrison and Richard Wright.  Her favorite movie is Forrest Gump, but she enjoys a good thriller too.  She loves listening to music, everything from A to Z. 

WHP is so happy to have Tonya as part of our staff.  Considerate, calm, knowledgeable  and very helpful, clients love her and she helps them tremendously.  Lucky us!   

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Adiós Frania and Ingrid!

Buena Suerte!

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Ingrid Fonseca and Frania Mendoza, both bilingual (Spanish/English) enrollment specialists, are leaving the Washtenaw Health Plan to pursue their passions.  The WHP staff (and clients) are very sad to see them go but are so grateful for their expertise, knowledge and care they both shared with us.

Ingrid Fonseca will be taking her side business to the next level.  Ingrid’s incredible style, clothing, and jewelry put the rest of us WHP staffers to shame.  Originally from Ecuador, Ingrid also lived in Japan and Colombia developing her international style.  Ingrid sells both handmade (by her!) and vintage jewelry along with hand-selected clothes with an eco-bohemian style.  Good luck!  

Find Unique Vintage Jewelry & Boho Accessories at Ingrid’s Hippy Happy Shop on Etsy and on Instagram @hippyhappyshop

Find Eco-friendly & Eco-fashion Jewelry and Accessories at the IngridFonseca Shop on Etsy. 

We wish Ingrid smashing success!

 

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Frania Mendoza Lua is leaving us for the Windy City.  After getting her MSW at the University of Michigan, Frania has been splitting her time on both applied work and research. She has been working with the WHP;  doing research, writing grants and developing a smartphone app for a UM research project; and working with Latino/a adolescents in Washtenaw County. This led Frania to decide to pursue a PhD! Frania has been accepted into the University of Chicago’s PhD program at the School of Social Service Administration (with funding to support her studies!).  Before letting the wind whip her hair around in Chicago, Frania will be spending part of the summer at a super statistics program at the ICPSR at UM.  As if all this was not enough--she recently got engaged. 

Ingrid and Frania, let’s not say farewell, but rather—good luck in your coming adventures!

Come Work With Us!

Meanwhile--do you think you have the stuff to fill their shoes?  Take a look at the WHP Outreach Worker position posted here (link: https://secure.ewashtenaw.org/hrjobs/AppJobPostingList.do). The job posting requires fluency in both English and Spanish, and the job posting closes July 6, 2018.

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Medicaid Work Requirements Signed--What Next?

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On Friday, June 22nd, Governor Snyder signed SB 897, the Medicaid work requirements bill. (Read about its details here. Read the full bill here.) We have been getting phone calls about what this means for individuals. For now, nothing has changed.

What happens next? The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services needs to submit a request for a waiver to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and they need to approve the waiver, before any work requirements will be in place. In the meantime, if you are eligible for Medicaid, you should apply. (Figure out if you are income eligible here.)

Remember that Medicaid is open year-round, so a change in circumstances (losing a job or losing insurance, getting married, getting pregnant, etcetera) can mean you are now eligible when you were not before. If that is the case, please give us a call at 734-544-3030 or come into our offices at 555 Towner in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

We will be helping people learn how to comply with Medicaid work requirements once they are in place, but for now, the Medicaid program is the same as it was yesterday. Keep Calm! Apply On!

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Four Reasons (Aside From The Work Requirement) To Ask Governor Snyder To Veto The Medicaid Work Requirements Bill

As if the Medicaid work requirements, discussed more fully in our last blog post, are not enough, there are four other problems with the Medicaid Work Requirements bill, also known as SB 897. This analysis quotes a FamiliesUSA blog post, written by Eliot Fishman, Senior Director of Health Policy. Read his full blog post here.

Read the House Fiscal Agency Legislative Analysis here. You can find a lot of the details in the House Fiscal Agency Legislative Analysis.

As Fishman notes:  

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1. The Bill Gives the Trump Administration and Washington Bureaucrats the Power to Kill the Healthy Michigan Program: As of now, with the Affordable Care Act surviving in Congress, the only people who can take Healthy Michigan coverage away or Michiganders and their state officials. But the new bill gives the Federal government one year to approve Michigan’s waiver request or the Healthy Michigan program goes away, leaving all of its enrollees with no health insurance...
2. The Bill Includes a Bizarrely Punitive Premium for Near-Poor Working People: People with incomes just over the poverty line come in for particularly harsh treatment in the bill. Anyone with an income between 100% and 138% of the poverty level for four years or more are forced to pay 5% of their income—far higher than any premium in Medicaid in any other state—or lose their coverage. This would create a strong incentive to REDUCE income to under the poverty line...
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3. The Bill Would Lock People Out of Coverage for a Year for Paperwork Discrepancies: The bill creates a broad mandate on Michigan Medicaid to take coverage away from people in the Healthy Michigan program for a year if they are found to have “misrepresented their compliance” in required monthly reporting of their work hours...
4. The Bill Creates a Crazy, Rushed Timeline for the Snyder Administration to Write and Submit a Waiver: The Snyder administration is required to submit a waiver to the Trump administration by October 1, 2018.  But federal and state law require the waiver to be submitted for public and tribal consultation starting 60 days before federal submission—so no later than the end of July. That gives Michigan Medicaid just a few weeks to lay out their plans to implement this complex mess of a bill.

You can ask Governor Snyder to veto this bill. Contact Governor Snyder here.

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Medicaid Work Requirements Pass The House

The Medicaid work requirements bill, Senate Bill 897, passed the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 on a party line vote, 17-10.  The bill was approved by the Michigan House of Representatives by a vote of 62-47.  The House-amended bill heads back to the GOP-controlled Senate, where it is expected to pass as soon as Thursday.  Next up is the Governor's office

The Washtenaw Health Plan remains opposed to Medicaid work requirements. We believe that healthcare is a human right, and that Medicaid work requirements will keep people from getting necessary healthcare. 

The proposed bill has many improvements over previous versions. Here are a few changes:

  • It requires an average of 80 hours/month of qualifying work activities, down from the earlier proposal of 29 hours/week. 
  • It exempts individuals age 63 and 64, who may have retired early and be drawing social security.
  • It only applies to Healthy Michigan Plan Medicaid recipients, and no others
  • It includes educational activities, job training, and vocational training, as well as unpaid internships, to meet the requirements.
  • it would allow recipients to have 3 months of noncompliance in a 12-month period, and after that, the recipient would lose coverage for at least 1 month (reduced from 1  year) and would need to be compliant to re-enroll.
This bill does one thing: it takes healthcare away from some of our state’s most vulnerable residents. We strongly urge the House to defeat the bill and if not, we call on the governor to veto this harmful piece of legislation.
— Gilda Z. Jacobs, Michigan League for Public Policy

There's more...Much more

Read the House Fiscal Agency Legislative Analysis here.

You can still oppose the bill. If you would like, you can send your comments to the governor, requesting his veto.   

Email:  governorsoffice@michigan.gov 

Phone: 517-373-3400 or 517-335-7858 (Constituent Services) 

From the Michigan League for Public Policy:  Bill takes healthcare away from people and families, does nothing to address barriers to employment.

We wrote about how Medicaid was helping and improving our state:  The Benefits of the ACA Go Beyond Health #thanksACA.

 

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Who Is DHHS And What Do They Do?

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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is the largest state department. The department was created by a merger of the Michigan Department of Community Health and the Department of Human Services in the spring of 2015. 

DHHS has several important departments that affect many of the people of the state of Michigan. 

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These programs include financial and health assistance programs, foster care and protective services, health statistics, and community health interventions. In many cases, the Washtenaw Health Plan and the Washtenaw County Health Department work closely with DHHS. Even though we may help people apply for Medicaid, it is DHHS that determines eligibility. 

Medicaid and Financial Assistance (cash assistance, food assistance)


  Washtenaw Cty WIC office staff. 

Washtenaw Cty WIC office staff. 

Women Infants and Children (WIC)--policies are set at the state level, but of course you can visit the Washtenaw County Health Department for WIC services.  WIC services include Food Packages, Nutrition Education, Breastfeeding Promotion and Support and more.  


Foster Care and Adoption Services: Washtenaw County is looking for additional foster care families. Interested? Follow the link!


Michigan Rehabilitation Services provides specialized employment and education-related services and training to assist teens and adults with disabilities in becoming employed or retaining employment.


Native American Affairs provides a broad range of social services to protect, preserve and strengthen Native American families both on and off tribal lands.


Child and Adult Protective Services: Have a concern about someone? Call 855-444-3911 to trigger an investigation.


Chronic Diseases: The State of Michigan chronic disease team works closely with the Washtenaw County Health Department and other county health departments around the state.


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Communicable Diseases: The state works closely with health departments around the state to track diseases like Hepatitis A. Find Washtenaw County data here


Epidemiology and Statistics: Learn about infant mortality, cancer statistics, and other vital statistics.


Policy and Planning: Here is where you can find policy manuals that guide much of the state's work.

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Medicaid Work Requirements Passes the Senate--What Next?

Medicaid work requirements were discussed in a public hearing at the Michigan Senate Competitiveness Committee on April 18, 2018. You can watch it! The WHP's Ruth Kraut and Medicaid recipient Claire Maitre speak at 13:54 (Ruth) and 30:45 (Claire). 

The following day, April 19th, the bill was voted out of the Senate. It passed 26-11, with one Republican joining 10 Democrats in voting against the bill. The bill now moves to the House.

Problems with video?  Click here.

Here is the link to the S2 (second substitute) of SB 897, which is what was voted on. Read the bill.

Read the history of the bill here.

We've been writing about work requirements and Medicaid. Read more below.

What Can You Do Now?

Now that the bill has passed the Senate and been sent to the Legislature, no matter where you live in the State of Michigan, you can contact your Representative and tell him or her how you feel about the bill. 

Find your Michigan Representative here

Send a letter to your Representative via Michigan League for Public Policy. 

Contact Governor Snyder! Call 517-335-7858 or 517-373-3400 or click here.

Check healthcarecounts.org regularly for updates on this issue.

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The new MIBridges! Applying for benefits gets prettier. (And better.)

It's here!  The new MIBridges website is an upgrade worth checking out. [You may want to bookmark michigan.gov/mibridges.] Although there are still a few bugs, if you are eligible for public benefits it is easier to apply and manage your benefits. 

Favorite Features

MIBridges Is Now Smartphone Friendly!

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As you can see from the images in this blog post, the new MIBridges is easier on the eyes.  The layout is more open and dynamic with pleasing colors. It is also very easy to use on a phone.  Uploading documents is as easy as taking a photo! 

 

It Is Easy To Upload Documents

When MDHHS needs to verify information, you used to have to wait for a request from the caseworker to upload a document in the old MIBridges.  Sometimes you would have to wait for a letter in the mail and then fax the information to MDHHS.  Now there is a new and improved interface that makes uploading documents a breeze. (Although MDHHS states you can mail your verifications, WHP staff suggests that you NEVER mail anything to MDHHS.  You have no proof that you turned in your documents. Upload or fax, that's the best.)  Now you can upload documents using your smartphone, tablet or laptop anytime and it's easy!  You don't have to wait for a request from the caseworker. 

Now hold onto your hat because after you have uploaded your documents, you can view your documents.  No more uploading documents with no confirmation or way to check if the upload was successful.   EASY and USEFUL.

 

Notifications

The previous MIBridges system allowed you to put in your phone number or email address and you were supposed to get a text or email when there was new information in your account.  You also have this option with the New MIBridges, but it is easier to find the "opt-in" notification, and it works more consistently. 

 

Report Changes

Now you can report changes quickly and easily.  Reporting proof of a new baby, a new job or enrollment in Medicare only takes a few minutes.  You report the change and upload the proof or verification in the same session.  There is no waiting for the caseworker to request a document.  If you know you need to provide proof of employment, pregnancy, change in income or any other changes, you can do it easily.

 

Identity Verification/Proofing

When you create an account or register for an account, you create a user id and password with 3 security questions.  MDHHS added another level of security, identity proofing.  Questions to which only you know the answer are pulled from your credit report to which only you know the answer.  This is a new level of security and will help to keep your information safe.  Keep a record of your new account information because it can be tricky to reset your password.  

 

My Benefits 

When you click My Benefits you can see all benefits for each member of your family.  If you click on an individual, you will see their Medicaid Health Plan if they have one.  

At this writing, this feature does not work 100% of the time, but when it works, it works well.

 

 View Letters 

You can see all the letters you have received for the last year.  In the old MIBridges, you could only see the last 60 days of letters.  Letters are visible the day they are generated.  If you are signed up for Notifications, you will be able to view your letter before it arrives in your mailbox.  

At this writing, this feature does not work 100% of the time, but when it works, it works well.

 

 Case History

When you click on Case History, you can see change reports, applications and renewals that were submitted.  This will help keep track of what you have submitted to DHHS.  It also keeps a record of when you requested a benefit or address update.  This is a handy feature!


The new MIBridges is available in English, Spanish and Arabic!

 

Give the new MIBridges a try!  And, as always, if you run into any trouble, have questions or need assistance, give us a call.  Washtenaw Health Plan - We Help People!  734-544-3030

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Tax Day Is Coming! Here's What You Need

 April 15th falls on a Sunday, and Washington DC celebrates Emancipation Day (the day Lincoln freed the slaves) on Monday, April 16th so Tax Day is Tuesday, April 17, 2018. 

April 15th falls on a Sunday, and Washington DC celebrates Emancipation Day (the day Lincoln freed the slaves) on Monday, April 16th so Tax Day is Tuesday, April 17, 2018. 

In 2017, you were required to have insurance all year unless you qualified for an exemption. You might have gotten your insurance from an employer, from public insurance (Medicaid, Medicare, VA coverage), or from private insurance (purchased separately or from the Marketplace). And now your 2017 taxes are due. Don't get confused, get organized!

 

Forms, Forms, Forms...

If you got insurance from an employer or public insurance, you should have gotten 1095-B or 1095-C forms from them. You can file your taxes without those forms, though, because they are also reporting to the IRS.

If you got insurance through the Marketplace, you need the 1095-A form. You can find that online in your healthcare.gov account. With the information you have on the 1095-A form, you can reconcile your tax credits, which you do using IRS Form 8962.

Find out more about how to reconcile tax credits with this handy explanation.

If you got private insurance without tax credits, your insurer should have your 1095-A, and you don't file for tax credits. You still have to submit the 1095-A as proof you had insurance.

 

I Didn't Have Insurance. Can I Get An Exemption?

If you didn't have insurance for the whole year, you might have qualified for an exemption. Common exemptions would be: 

  • you were uncovered for less than 3 months (perhaps you moved or switched jobs)
  • cost of insurance for the household was more than 8% of your income and was unaffordable
  • your income is below the tax-filing threshold 
  • you were living out of the country for all or part of the year.

There are other exemptions, too. You file for an exemption using IRS Form 8965. Find out more below. 

 

No Exemption?  No Insurance?  Pay a penalty.

If you don't qualify for an exemption, and you didn't have insurance, you might need to pay a penalty. For the 2017 plan year, the fee is calculated 2 different ways — as a percentage of your yearly household income, and per person. You’ll pay whichever is higher.

1. Percentage of income: 2.5% of yearly household income. The maximum is the total yearly premium for the national average price of a Bronze plan sold through the Marketplace.

or

2. Per person per year: $695 per adult or $347.50 per child under 18. The maximum is $2,085 per household. 

 

A Household Is Made Up Of Individuals

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NOTE: Think about each person in the household separately! In some cases, you may have one person on the Marketplace or with employer insurance, one person with an exemption based on affordability, and a child on Medicaid or MIChild.

If you finish your taxes, you realize you will owe some money, and you don't want that to happen again, come visit us at 555 Towner, Ypsilanti, MI M-F 9-4 p.m., or call us at 734-544-3030, for a free consultation.

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