Adiós Frania and Ingrid!

Buena Suerte!

IngridFraniaGoodbyePic.jpg

 

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!

 

gabefraniaring.png

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.

Print Friendly and PDF

Subscribe to our blog here!

Medicaid Work Requirements Signed--What Next?

Keep Calm Graphic.png

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!

Print Friendly and PDF

Subscribe to our blog here!

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:  

time-clipart-time-capsule-clipart-1.png
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...
lock-clipart-clip-art-unlock-clipart-1.png
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.

Print Friendly and PDF

Subscribe to our blog here!

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.

 

Print Friendly and PDF

Subscribe to our blog here!

Who Is DHHS And What Do They Do?

MDHHS logo.png

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. 

nutshell.jpg

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.


HepAcampaign.png

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.

Print Friendly and PDF

Subscribe to our blog here!

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.

Print Friendly and PDF

Subscribe to our blog here!

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!

cellphones.jpg

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

Print Friendly and PDF

Subscribe to our blog here!

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

Familycolorful.png

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.

Print Friendly and PDF

Subscribe to our blog here!

Medicaid work requirements: A prescription for problems

“We’ll call you with the results on Monday.”

If you’ve ever left your doctor’s office after hearing those words, then you’re familiar with the dread. Minutes become hours, hours become days, and the worst fears tend to enter your mind no matter how hard you try to suppress them.

Waiting for that call is excruciating. But a law being proposed in Lansing would make it a lot worse for many in our state.

Michigan’s Senate Bill 897 is ethically, logically and morally wrong; it threatens the healthcare of hundreds of thousands of Michiganders. And it’s going to cost us a boatload.

The bill comes on the heels of a change at the federal level that allows states to request waivers to enforce work requirements on Medicaid recipients.

First, let’s look at what Medicaid is. Medicaid is healthcare. It was designed to help sick people get well and to help healthy people stay that way. And it does a pretty great job. Michiganders with low incomes are able to sleep at night knowing that they can receive healthcare through Medicaid and Michigan’s expanded Medicaid program, the Healthy Michigan Plan. Since its creation in 1965, that’s what Medicaid has been: A healthcare plan.

Now, let’s look at what Medicaid is not. Medicaid is not a jobs program. Jobs programs help train workers, eliminate barriers like transportation and childcare issues, and work with local governments, community members and businesses to find solutions to problems in workforce development. By all means, let’s invest in solid jobs programs!

But some in the Michigan Legislature think we need to complicate the health plan by adding layers of bureaucracy and obstacles with work requirements. Here are a few logical truths to counter the myths being used to push work requirements:

  1. Most Medicaid recipients who can work are already working. Those who don’t work are students, caregivers, retired or in poor health.
  2. Michiganders enrolled in Healthy Michigan are doing better at work and are able to find work because they have healthcare. It’s not a big stretch: Being healthy makes it easier to thrive in the workplace. But it doesn’t work the other way around. Being at work doesn’t suddenly cure health problems.
  3. Medicaid recipients, employers, doctors and state employees will be burdened with paperwork, red tape and additional hurdles. These complications will strain the state and cause many struggling Michiganders to lose coverage.
  4. It’s going to cost us. Kentucky, which recently implemented work requirements, reports that just setting up the infrastructure to track work requirements will cost nearly $187 million in the first six months alone.
  5. Work requirements are potentially illegal. Under the act that created the Medicaid program, certain parts of the Medicaid Act can be waived, but new eligibility criteria cannot be imposed—in this case, the criteria of work in order to qualify for Medicaid. Legal challenges have already begun in Kentucky that could have repercussions on any states pursuing work requirements. Michigan lawmakers should wait and see how that case unfolds.

I’m obviously urging you to take action on this issue. But I’m also asking you to start talking about it. Talk to your friends, your neighbors, your family. Help them to understand what Medicaid is and what it is not.

I also hope you’ll listen. Over the years Medicaid has helped millions of Michiganders, from those going through a rough patch to those struggling with chronic health problems or terminal illness. It is likely that someone you love or know has benefited from Medicaid. Take the time to listen to how it helped them temporarily or on a long-term basis. And encourage them to share their story to make a difference.

 If you have a personal story about how Medicaid and having reliable healthcare has enabled you to work or look for work, please share it!  Click here. 

If you have a personal story about how Medicaid and having reliable healthcare has enabled you to work or look for work, please share it!  Click here. 

Healthy people are better able to work, but working people do not automatically become healthy. Let’s stop discussing unnecessary plans like this and instead focus on the real things Michigan residents need to work and provide for their families, including Medicaid and other assistance programs, job training, adult education, high-quality child care, reliable public transportation, and more.

 Added April 4th, 2018 by Gilda Z. Jacobs  

By Gilda Z. Jacobs, president & CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy since 2011

April 4, 2018 

Print Friendly and PDF

Subscribe to our blog here!

For These Four Working Households, Medicaid--Without Work Requirements--Matters

michigan-clipart-kcKnBpLgi.png

The idea of work requirements for Michiganders on Medicaid is rather abstract. Unfortunately, it would have significant negative consequences. Here are some real stories of people that we have worked with in the past year. (Names have been changed.)

What unites these families is that--even though, in each case, someone in the household is working--under the proposed work requirements for Medicaid, they wouldn't qualify for Medicaid. Here are their stories.

Marsha and Will: Bad Luck and Poor Health Means Medicaid is More Important Than Ever

Marsha and WIll are a married couple in their fifties, and their kids are now all grown. In 2016, they were both working low-wage jobs in the service industry. Their combined income was around $28,000/year. They could afford their rent, and their car, and they qualified for tax credits on the Marketplace. In early 2017, WIll lost his job. He was looking for a job, but now they were living on Marsha's job at Subway, which was averaging about 28 hours/week. Paying for rent was tough, but at least they now qualified for Medicaid. After about six months of being unemployed, Will had a heart attack and was in the hospital for five days. 

Under proposed Medicaid work requirements, Marsha's work was less than 30 hours/week and Will wasn't working at all--they would not have qualified for Medicaid. When Will had his heart attack, what would have happened?

Virginia: Medicaid is Vital to Mental Health

Person at computer.png

Virginia is a single woman in her 20s. She has a history of depression and anxiety, and had been helped by Community Mental Health. When she started working 33 hours/week, her income was too high for Medicaid, and as a result she lost her relationship with Community Mental Health. Without medications and support, her anxiety got so bad that she couldn't work at all. Then Virginia became eligible for Medicaid--and Community Mental Health--again. Now, with the support of Medicaid and CMH, she is able to work. Virginia now keeps her work hours at about 25 hours/week, in order to stay eligible for Medicaid and--therefore--CMH. 

With Medicaid work requirements, Virginia might not be able to keep her hours below 30 hours/week. And if her income goes above 30 hours/week, at $11/hour she won't be eligible for Medicaid--or CMH services.

Maria and Jose: Medicaid Keeps The Family Healthy

Maria and Jose have two children, ages 3 and 5. Jose works two jobs so that Maria can stay home with the kids--childcare costs are so high. Jose is offered (and takes!) insurance from his work, but while it would be affordable for him ($100/month), if he were to add the rest of the family it would cost $600/month. So Maria and the kids are on Medicaid, which is a good thing, because Maria and her youngest child have asthma. 

With Medicaid work requirements, Maria wouldn't be eligible for Medicaid unless she were working 30 hours/week. In order to do that, though, they would have to pay for childcare. Without the asthma medication, Maria might end up in the emergency room. 

Jasmine and Mark: Medicaid Allowed Them To Take A Chance And Start A Business

e4e7b1ca5e8c665b1e54b96e8f4989c1_family-clipart-black-and-white-clipartix-family-clipart_1600-1574.png

In 2015 Jasmine and Mark decided to start their own business in Washtenaw County. Investing their life savings, they quit their jobs and started spending long hours on their business. Without income, they and their two kids got Medicaid. In the first year, they did not turn a profit. In their second year, they started making a little bit of money, but were still Medicaid eligible. By year 3, they were over income for Medicaid and went on the Marketplace.

With Medicaid work requirements, in the first two years of their business, their income did not reflect the work they were putting in. How could they prove they were working? Would they qualify for Medicaid?

Print Friendly and PDF

Subscribe to our blog here!