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. 


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.


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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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!


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.



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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Como Encontrar el Correo Electrónico y Numero de Teléfono de un Trabajador del DHHS

A veces los clientes desean comunicarse por correo electrónico con su especialista del departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos (DHHS).  Esto puede ser debido a que el especialista no responde a sus llamadas telefónicas, o porque el cliente no está restringido a contactar el especialista durante el horario de trabajo.  ¡Por ejemplo, si un cliente trabaja de 9am-5pm, puede enviar un correo electrónico a las 11 de la noche, o 5 de la mañana!

Además, los correos electrónicos tienen otras ventajas.

A diferencia a una llamada telefónica, enviando un correo electrónico le ofrece una confirmación de que se ha hecho un intento de ponerse en contacto con su especialista, y cuando recibe una respuesta, hay un registro escrito de lo que el especialista dijo.

Además, si el especialista necesita un documento (por ejemplo, recibos de pago o una copia de su tarjeta de residencia), puede incluir el documento en el correo electrónico.

Tome en cuenta: Si usted es un especialista social o administrador de casos en otra agencia y está ayudando a un cliente, asegúrese de incluir una liberacion de información cuando se comunique con el especialista de DHHS.


Sólo hay un problema. Como se consigue la dirección de correo electrónico del trabajador de DHHS?  Aquí hay tres maneras para identificar el especialista de su caso.

1.  Si usted tiene una carta de DHHS sobre un caso: En la parte superior derecha de cualquier carta debería haber varias líneas con información.  Uno de ellos dice: Especialista / ID. Tome el ID, y incluya @michigan.gov al último de el ID. (Mire el ejemplo a continuación.)


Adicionalmente,  la carta también tiene un número de fax. Siempre se puede enviar por fax los documentos (como talones de ingreso) o otra información (por ejemplo, un cambio de dirección) a su trabajador de DHHS. Asegúrese de escribir su número de caso y el nombre en cada página, y mantenga una copia confirmando que DHHS recibo su fax.

2.  Si usted sabe o conoce el nombre del trabajador, pero no tiene el Especialista/ID: El Estado de Michigan tiene un directorio de empleados en la página web www.michigan.gov. (Bajo Servicios por Internet (Online Services) busque el icono Directorio de Direcciones de correo electrónico estatales y números de teléfono (State Email and Phone Directory).  Aquí está el enlace directo al directorio de contactos del Estado de Michigan.

3.  Si usted sabe o conoce el nombre del trabajador, puede intentar a llamar al (734) 481-2000 para el condado de Washtenaw o (517)548-0200 para el condado de Livingston durante el horario de oficina y preguntar por el nombre e información de contacto de su trabajador.

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Medicaid Appeals Part 2: The Hearing Process

"I filed a hearing. Now what happens?"

You disagreed with DHHS and filed a hearing.  Here is a brief explanation of what happens next.  

Call Legal Services to see if you qualify for legal services to represent you. For Washtenaw County, contact Legal Services of South Central Michigan (LSSCM). LSSCM provides provides general civil legal services to low-income and senior citizens of Barry, Branch, Calhoun, Clinton, Eaton, Hillsdale, Ingham, Jackson, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, Shiawassee, and Washtenaw Counties.  To find help in other Michigan counties or elsewhere, Legal Services has a searchable map.

Then you start the process with the DHHS office. 

The Hearing Process

Phone Call

You may receive a phone call from your caseworker or supervisor. (You also may not receive a phone call.)  The DHHS representative may explain why you were denied and/or try to talk you out of filing a hearing.  They may agree that there is an error and say they will fix the problem.  Sometimes, they say they will fix the decision, you just need to "withdraw the hearing." 

Do not withdraw the hearing unless you agree with DHHS's decision after an explanation from the caseworker or supervisor.  If they agree there is a problem and say they will fix the problem, wait until the DHHS caseworker provides proof they have fixed the problem to withdraw the hearing. When you withdraw a hearing you are agreeing that DHHS has made the right decision and you cannot appeal that decision again. 

Pre-Hearing Conference

DHHS will schedule a Pre-Hearing Conference.  This meeting is a chance for you to explain the reason for your request for hearing, present any documents and see if the dispute can be resolved before the hearing. Typically these meetings are with your caseworker and their supervisor.  If you are correct and DHHS says they are going to correct the decision, do not withdraw the hearing until you have received a new determination letter or case action notice.  You should also confirm the changes have been made.  You may receive a summary in the mail but until you withdraw the hearing or the hearing takes place, your full hearing is still being scheduled.

You do not have to attend a pre-hearing conference, and if you don't attend--or if you attend but no agreement is reached--the appeal continues to a full hearing.

The HEaring

The Hearing is a formal meeting with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You can request that the hearing be in person--otherwise the ALJ may call in. Typically the caseworker and supervisor are in attendance. You are allowed to bring legal representation or a case advocate from a nonprofit, and in some cases Legal Services will be able to represent you. You can also request accommodations, such as a second language or sign language interpreter. Bring documents to support your case. The DHHS staff present their position, and then you will have a chance to present your position. The judge may ask you or DHHS staff additional questions. The ALJ will issue a decision.

The Decision

The ALJ will issue a decision.  You will receive a copy of the decision in the mail.  If your benefits were denied, you can reapply.  If your benefits were reinstated, DHHS should comply with the judge's order in a timely manner. 



Tips for Hearings from Michigan Legal Help

  • Bring any documents to the hearing you think might be needed to verify your income.
  • If it is difficult or impossible for you to provide certain documents, be prepared to tell the Administrative Law Judge what you have done to try to get the documents that are needed.
  • If you believe you have already provided all of the documents DHHS asked you for, the hearing is your opportunity to tell the ALJ what documents you provided, when you provided them, and how you delivered them to DHHS. Make sure you bring this information with you, along with anything you have that may show you already provided the documents.
  • You are allowed to have a lawyer, friend or other person represent you at the hearing.
  • Be prepared to spend most of the morning or afternoon at the hearing.
  • Arrive at the hearing location 10 or 15 minutes before your hearing is scheduled. Dress neatly, like you would for a job interview.
  • When you get there check in with the desk clerk.
  • You will be sworn in. Answer the ALJ’s questions clearly. Ask questions if you don't understand what is being said.
  • A DHHS employee will also have a chance to speak. When the DHHS worker talks, take notes. Don’t try to interrupt. You will have another chance to speak.
  • The ALJ will wait until everyone has had a turn to speak before making a decision. Or, the ALJ may not make a decision at the hearing. You may have to wait to get the ALJ’s decision by mail. Ask the ALJ questions if you don't understand what the decision is or when you will find out. The hearing is your opportunity to tell the ALJ your side of the story and explain why your benefits shouldn’t be terminated or reduced. 


Read Part 1, Medicaid Appeals: How to File a Hearing.



Legal Services of South Central Michigan

Find Legal Aid anywhere in the United States from Legal Services Corp.

I Need to Appeal DHHS's Denial or Termination of My Benefits self-help online tool from Michigan Legal Help.

Going to Court:  Extra Tips and Forms Toolkit from Michigan Legal Help

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Yes You Can: Getting Over Language Barriers

“Do you speaka my language?” --Men at Work’s song “Down Under.”

If nobody does speak your language, welcome to the world of not being understood.  It is a most uncomfortable and frustrating place to be. 

Perhaps if you are a tourist and you are trying to get a coffee from the local café, it may be part of an exotic adventure. However... if you are trying to get health care coverage for your children or yourself, it can be daunting.

June is Immigrant Heritage Month, and Michigan is a land of immigrants. 

Washtenaw County is growing rapidly with migrant groups from many different countries.   If you are curious to see what languages we have in Michigan check out this web site

American Community Survey data, 2008-2012, Language Spoken At Home, taken from: http://www.lep.gov/maps/

American Community Survey data, 2008-2012, Language Spoken At Home, taken from: http://www.lep.gov/maps/

Understanding legal rights

Fortunately there are federal and state laws in place to assure people can access the services they need in their own language.

The Department of Health and Human Services policy states that they will provide interpreter services when needed.

The department will provide appropriate interpreters to persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) to afford such persons an equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from MDHHS programs and services. The department and its contracted service providers will take reasonable steps to provide services and information in appropriate languages to ensure that LEP individuals are effectively informed, notified of their rights and responsibilities and can effectively participate in and benefit from MDHHS programs, services and activities.


If an applicant really doesn't understand English, but tries to "get by," the DHHS staff person may understand this to mean that the client's English is good enough to do the application. If a client really doesn't understand English, the client should state that clearly in the beginning. Most of the time, the office will need to call a telephone interpreter line.

Don't expect a DHHS staff person to automatically know the language that a client needs help with--or even that a client needs help! Clients need to specifically request interpretation. Clients can bring another adult with them to translate, but DHHS policy states that "Minor children or other non-adult relatives of the client may be used as interpreters in the most extraordinary circumstances and only if other kinds of interpreter resources are not available."  Read more here and here.

Interpretation Services and Healthcare.gov

The Marketplace application is available online in both English and Spanish. For other languages, applicants should call the Marketplace at 1-800-318-2596 and request an interpreter. Applicants can also make an appointment for a telephone interpreter. 

--S. Quiñones

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Medicaid Sticking Point: The "Other Insurance," aka Third Party Liability

Transitions can be difficult. For the most part, getting Medicaid is a wonderful thing, but occasionally there is a fly in the ointment. 

If you had medical coverage before, from an employer or the Marketplace, and that ended, you may need to let Medicaid know. The private insurance may have ended a while ago! But if Medicaid thinks that you still have that primary insurance, and you don't, you can have trouble getting access to your Medicaid health benefits. 

The trouble begins because Medicaid is always the insurance of last resort. That means, if you have private insurance that pays 80% of the bill, Medicaid will wait and pay the last 20% of the bill. This completely makes sense, unless. . . you don't actually have that private insurance, but Medicaid still thinks that you do. 

In that case, Medicaid's record of the phantom insurance means that Medicaid will not pay the hospital bill, because the phantom insurance has not paid the first part. 

Getting rid of the phantom insurance takes a little bit of elbow grease. The easiest way to remove the insurance is to call the MI Enrolls help line, (888)-367-6557. Choose the option for "other things," and explain that you have an insurance policy listed on your account that no longer is active. They will ask you for information about the insurance company, policy number, and the individuals listed. They will then send a confirmation request to the insurance company, confirming the end date for that coverage. This process generally takes about ten days, so don't wait until you are in the emergency room to get this problem fixed!

--R. Kraut

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How to Find a DHHS Caseworker's Email Address (and Phone Number)


Sometimes clients would like to contact their Department of Health and Human Services caseworkers by email. This may be because the caseworker isn't answering their phone calls, or because the client is not restricted to contacting the caseworker during business hours. In other words, a client who works from 9-5 can send an email at 11 at night, or 5 in the morning!

Emails have other advantages as well.

Unlike a phone call, there is confirmation that you made an attempt to contact your worker, and when the worker responds, there is a written record of what the worker actually told you.

In addition, if your worker needs a document (for example, recent pay stubs or a copy of a green card), you can attach the document to the email.

Please note: If you are a social worker or case manager for another agency and you are working to help a client, be sure to include a release of information when you contact the DHHS caseworker!


There's only one problem. Just how are you supposed to get the DHHS caseworker's email address?  Here are three ways to identify the caseworker.

1. If you have a letter from DHHS regarding a case: In the top right hand side of any letter about a case that you get from DHHS, there should be several lines in the top right-hand corner. One of them should say Specialist/ID. Take the ID, and add @michigan.gov to it. (See the example on this page.)

Contact DHHS worker.jpg

Special bonus! That letter also has a fax number. You can always fax documents (such as pay stubs) or other information (for example, an address change) to your worker as well. Make sure to write your case number and name on every page, and to keep a copy of the fax receipt.

2. If you know the caseworker's name, but don't have the specialist ID: the State of Michigan has an employee lookup at the www.michigan.gov web page. (Look for State Email and Phone Directory under online services.) Here is the direct link to the State of Michigan Contact Directory. 

3. If you don't know the case worker's name, you can try calling (734)481-2000 in Washtenaw County or (517)548-0200 in Livingston County during business hours, and asking for your case worker's name and contact information. 

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