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!    


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!


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 or connect through their Breastfeeding support facebook page @WashtenawWICBF.  


Marketplace ( 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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Washtenaw Health Plan Services for Immigrants


Here at the WHP we provide confidential services to all people regardless of their immigration status.  We assist individuals and families with any health coverage needs, from identifying eligibility to completing applications.  We help people figure out if they are eligible for Medicaid, MOMS, Emergency Medicaid, Washtenaw Health Plan, or the Marketplace (subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act).  WHP even assists individuals whom need help understanding their employer’s insurance options.

To ensure that all individuals and families have access to services and resources at WHP, we have Arabic, French, and Spanish speakers on staff.  In addition, we have access to a language line that provides real-time interpretation services for anyone who prefers to receive information in their native language.  Our language line services assist us in helping families in understanding documents, and gives families the confidence to ask the questions they need answered. The language line can assist with over 240 different languages.

WHP staff (and Public Health staff) have access to interpreter services for Acholi to Zyphe from  Language Line Solutions .  

WHP staff (and Public Health staff) have access to interpreter services for Acholi to Zyphe from Language Line Solutions.  

In addition to helping individuals and families identifying what health coverage they are eligible for, WHP can provide families with referrals and resources to address additional needs that go beyond health. We refer families to agencies throughout Washtenaw County. Some of our referrals include: Catholic Social ServicesJewish Family Services and Hope Clinic.


With the current immigration climate, we are aware that many individuals and families need the necessary resources to feel safe in their community. WHP provides families with Know Your Rights information, including updated lists of attorneys helping community members with immigration questions and community organizations that advocate for immigrants such as the Washtenaw County ID Project and Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR).  WHP can now notarize Power of Attorney forms and translate foreign driver’s licenses.


In May 2017, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners approved funding and resolutions to aid immigrants regardless of citizenship or immigration status. One of the resolutions includes Washtenaw County being a welcoming community, respecting and cooperating with all families.  Another resolution specifies that Washtenaw County policy is to only ask about immigration services for specific purposes, allowing people to feel safe when interacting with the county government. Lastly, having a policy in place to aid in restricting deportation and provide more appropriate immigration sanctions for immigrants and non-citizens who have been convicted of crimes.  As Washtenaw County employees, we support these resolutions everyday in our work. 

The Washtenaw Health Plan is dedicated to helping people access and receive healthcare regardless of their immigration status.  All WHP staff recently attended the Welcome Michigan Statewide Convening to discuss supporting and welcoming immigrants across Michigan. 


-T. South Peterson

Have questions about healthcare?  Call 734-544-3030 or walk-in to our office Monday - Friday from 9am-4pm.  Post a question in the comments section below and we will answer you. 

Healthcare Counts blog posts in Español / Spanish are here.

Information about immigration and healthcare from Healthcare Counts is here.

Washtenaw County Immigration Policy May 2017

Michigan Immigrant Rights Center

National Immigration Law Center

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What Is The Maximum I Can Make For...?

The Department of Health and Human Services begins using revised Federal Poverty Level Guidelines each April.  Many federally and state funded programs use the income guidelines to determine eligibility for programs and services.  Healthcare subsidy programs, Medicaid and Medicare all use the guidelines in their calculations.  The Federal Poverty Guidelines can be found here.

The chart below is what we use at the Washtenaw Health Plan to help people figure out what health care coverage is best for themselves and their family.  Our chart includes a 5% disregard.  We use the chart for determining eligibility for MAGI Medicaid. (What is MAGI?)

This is the document which includes disregards we use to determine eligibility for Medicaid, Marketplace tax credits and cost sharing, and other programs.   pdf

This is the document which includes disregards we use to determine eligibility for Medicaid, Marketplace tax credits and cost sharing, and other programs.  pdf

Our website has been updated with the new numbers.  Maybe you are very close to the edge of the income limit for MIChild or you need to check the income limit because you have a new baby.  Both Medicaid and MIChild have been updated.  Not sure where to go? Start Here

Many other programs use the Federal Poverty Guidelines as a baseline for their programs including:

Free and Reduced School Lunch Program

MOMS Medicaid is for pregnant women who are not eligible for full Medicaid because of their immigration status. 

Pregnancy Medicaid

WIC (Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program) provides food, nutrition counseling, and breastfeeding support to mothers and young children. 

Hospital charity care and financial assistance including M-Support and McAuley Support

Medicare/Medicaid programs help low-income Medicare recipients pay their health care costs. 

And many more! 

If you have questions, contact the Washtenaw Health Plan.  734-544-3030 or walk-in Monday through Friday from 9am - 4pm at 555 Towner St. in Ypsilanti. 

-Meredith Buhalis 

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Are You an Immigrant? ESO, MOMS and the Marketplace

To be qualified for full Medicaid, you must not only be income eligible and "lawfully present" in the United States, but also be either a citizen of the United States, or a "qualified" immigrant--typically a Permanent Resident card holder for at least five years. Of course there are some exceptions... refugees, for example, but we'll get to that another time. While people who don't meet that criteria cannot get full Medicaid, there are several other ways for them to access health coverage.

Emergency Services Only (ESO): Regardless of residency status, anyone living in Michigan that would otherwise qualify for Medicaid, can receive ESO. This means that in the case of an emergency, they can go to the hospital and not be left with medical bills. ESO covers bills only in the case of a true emergency. For example, falling down and breaking your leg or having a heart attack is certainly an emergency. ESO may not cover a situation not seen as a true emergency, perhaps going to the ER to get a strep throat test. While it is up to the doctor and hospital to determine what qualifies, if you are in need of medical attention, worry about possible bills later, and immediately seek the care you need.

Maternity Outpatient Medical Services (MOMS): A pregnant women who would qualify for coverage except for her immigration status can apply for MOMS, which covers bills related to the pregnancy. This includes prenatal visits, the delivery and postpartum care for two calender months after the pregnancy ends. The MOMS program is in place in hopes that the infant, who will likely be a born a U.S. citizen, has proper medical care while in utero.

To apply for ESO Medicaid and MOMS, one uses the same application as one does to apply for full Medicaid: link.

Marketplace: Neither ESO or MOMS coverage meet the minimum standards of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. A person with any "authorized" status in the U.S. (Permanent Resident card, Work Permit, student visa etc.) may need to look to the Marketplace to have coverage that meets the mandate, though they can still have the ESO and/or MOMS to supplement. The Marketplace application is found online at

Helpful Hint: Sometimes the application process can be confusing! We are here to help you. We have English, Spanish, Arabic and French speakers in our office--and if you speak another language, we have access to Language Line interpretation.Please call us at (734) 544-3030 or walk into our offices, Monday through Friday, 9-4, to get the help that you need! 

-Haley Haddad

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