WIC

Our Courtyard Transforms! It's Now...Built To Play!

A couple of years ago, WHP staff took a photo in the courtyard between our building and the Department of Health and Human Services. What was then benches and rosebushes is now…a playground!

This project was funded by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation Initiative, Built to Play.

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For parents coming in and out of the Washtenaw Health Plan, Washtenaw County WIC or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, this could be a nice break in a day of errands! Maybe next time, the kids will not just “tolerate” coming to our campus, but will actually look forward to it!

The transformation was quick (it just took a few days!), and we will still have the nice trees turning colors in the fall.

For more details about why the health department applied for the grant, read this conversation on the Built to Play website with WCHD Communications and Community Health Promotion Manager Susan Ringler-Cerniglia.

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Welcome Immigrants—Opposing Public Charge Rules Changes

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UPDATE: Over 200,000 comments were received while the public comment period was open. No changes can be made until the regulating body (Department of Homeland Security) responds to every comment. Then they can publish a final rule, which could incorporate changes based on comments received—or they could decide not to publish a rule. After the rule is published there is a waiting period before it takes effect.

Today—in fact—any day—is a good day to tell the world that you welcome immigrants to the United States. The Washtenaw Health Plan and Washtenaw County Health Department have submitted comments opposing the changes in "public charge" regulations. Comments could be submitted until December 10th, 2018.

What Is The Issue?

The Trump administration has published a proposed rule that would force many immigrants and their families to choose between accessing essential public services and keeping their families together. 

There are many reasons why immigrants may be denied permanent residence (aka a “green card”) or not be allowed to enter the United States. Public charge is one of those reasons. Under current laws, the government considers someone a public charge if they are found likely to become primarily dependent on government programs.

Currently, “public charge” is considered very narrowly—an immigrant can only be found to be a public charge if they use cash assistance (like TANF or SSI), or institutionalized long-term care (like living in a nursing home) through Medicaid.

The government is considering changes that would dramatically expand who is considered a public charge. making it much harder to get a green card or visa. These changes include:

  • Expanding the benefits that could classify you as being a “public charge” and

  • Assessing your income differently—meaning that your income would only be viewed positively if you made at least 250% of the poverty level (nearly $63,000 for a family of 4).

  • Adding assessments of age, health, education and skills. Children and seniors could be assessed negatively.

In addition to what the public charge proposed rule actually says (and at this point it is only a proposal), it can also have a “chilling effect,” and make people afraid to access any services, even ones that are not included in the rule. If the “public charge” rule is ­finalized in its proposed form, this would mark a significant and harmful departure from long standing immigration policy. The proposal would make -- and has already made -- immigrant families afraid to seek programs that support their basic needs. These programs help them stay strong and productive, and raise children who thrive. With about one in four children having at least one immigrant parent, this issue touches millions and is critical now and for our nation’s future. And that’s why taking action is so important!

According to the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, at this point, “If you are applying for a green card within the U.S., the rules have not changed, and there is no reason for you or anyone in your family to stop receiving non-cash benefits (like Medicaid and food stamps) that they are eligible for.”

What Can I Do To Make A Difference?

When the federal government proposes a rule, they have to request comments. We have until December 10, 2018 to submit comments. Your voice matters!

The best way to comment is to go online to the federal public charge comment portal at regulations.gov. Click on “comment now” and either enter your comment in the text box (must be fewer than 5000 characters) or upload your comments as a PDF.

Any comments are good, but it’s best if:

  1. You write comments in your own words.

  2. You share research, experiences, and/or the stories of people you know (friends, relatives, community members). You can even include web links or upload supporting materials (research, or your resume, if you are a content expert).

  3. Look to the Michigan League for Public Policy for some great information about the positive economic impact of immigrants in our communities; use that information in your comments. Talk about why we value immigrants in Michigan!

  4. Talk about the role that access to benefits has played in your life, or the lives of people you know.

More details about comments can be found here.

In fact, there’s even a toolkit with specific comment suggestions. However, don’t worry too much about it, short comments are ok too!

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What Else Can I Do?

Use email, phone calls, and social media to get your friends and family to submit comments. (Hint: Share this post!)

You Are In Good Company

If you comment, you are in good company. Not only did the Washtenaw Health Plan submit a comment, but:

And special, special thanks to our partners at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center for their knowledge, support, and advocacy. Read more about their campaign to Protect Immigrant Families here!

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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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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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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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