Washtenaw County

Welcome Jeremy Lapedis to the Washtenaw Health Plan!

Jeremy Lapedis Named New Washtenaw Health Plan Executive Director

The Washtenaw Health Plan (WHP) is happy to announce Jeremy Lapedis will be the organization’s new executive director. Lapedis has a strong background in connecting health and social services in Washtenaw County and beyond.

“Health is more than just the care you get at the doctor’s office,” says Lapedis. “The Washtenaw Health Plan assists county residents with access to healthcare, but they don’t stop there. If clients have any problem, WHP helps them. I’m thrilled to work with this staff that supports people so holistically.”

Jeremy Lapedis at the WHP office.

Jeremy Lapedis at the WHP office.

Lapedis recently earned his doctorate in public health from Harvard. He also has a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. 

For several years, Lapedis has worked at the Center for Health and Research Transformation (CHRT) as a program manager for the local State Innovation Model (SIM), a Washtenaw Health Initiative demonstration that helps individuals with complex health needs access the medical, behavioral, and social services they require. He will continue to support the regional SIM on a limited basis through a contract between CHRT, backbone organization to the Washtenaw Health Initiative, and the WHP.

“After being away from Washtenaw County for a while, I’m excited to continue working in the place I call home,” says Lapedis, who grew up in Ann Arbor. “I want my work to focus on reducing inequities and valuing diversity in Washtenaw County. I hope to lend a hand in creating a more just place for all residents in the county.”

Lapedis will be taking over for current Executive Director Ellen Rabinowitz, who will retire later this summer after decades of public service with Washtenaw County. Lapedis will begin as executive director on September 3, 2019.

“We are so excited to have Jeremy in this role,” says Rabinowitz. “His work on the State Innovation Model gives him a keen understanding of our community’s need for access to care. His familiarity with community partners will bring great value to his role at the Washtenaw Health Plan.”

WHP is a private non-profit organization that is closely aligned with the Washtenaw County Health Department. The organization is a public-private partnership with key partners including Michigan Medicine, St. Joseph Mercy Health System and Washtenaw County. The organization helps people access health care coverage, including Medicaid, Medicare, Marketplace, employer insurance, and more. In addition, staff can help clients with a variety of issues related directly or indirectly to health, from immigration to housing. WHP has English, Spanish, and Arabic-speaking staff and interpreting services are available for most other languages. Walk in for help Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Washtenaw County Human Services building at 555 Towner Street, Ypsilanti. Or call 734-544-3030.

Washtenaw Health Plan

The Washtenaw Health Plan works directly with people to assess their eligibility for health coverage and to secure coverage. Visit healthcarecounts.org or call 734-544-3030. Walk in for help Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm. Spanish-speaking and Arabic-speaking staff members available. WHP is located the Washtenaw County Human Services building at 555 Towner Street, Ypsilanti.

Washtenaw County Health Department
The Washtenaw County Health Department promotes health and works to prevent disease and injury in our community. Our mission is to assure, in partnership with the community, the conditions necessary for people to live healthy lives through prevention and protection programs.

The Washtenaw County Health Department has achieved national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board. Visit us at washtenaw.org/health or call 734-544-6700.

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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.


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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Ten Reasons To Oppose Medicaid Work Requirements

Printable pdf of this blog post here.

You may have heard that there are some proposals in the Michigan legislature to require individuals on Medicaid to work in order to continue to qualify for Medicaid  (Proposed in March 2018: Senate Bill 897 and House Bill 5716). The Washtenaw Health Plan and Washtenaw County are opposed to any efforts to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. Here's why: 

1. Most people on Medicaid are already working.

Those who are not working, are most likely to be found taking care of young children, elderly relatives, to be living in high unemployment areas, or to be in poor health themselves. The vast majority of individuals in Medicaid are in households with at least one working person (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2016). 

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In December 2017, a team of University of Michigan researchers did extensive research on individuals in the Michigan Medicaid expansion, called the Healthy Michigan Plan, population.

  • Nearly half the individuals are working (48.8%)
  • 5% are students
  • Nearly 5% are home taking care of children
  • 11% reported being unable to work because of their health
  • Over one fourth are out of work, many of them because they are in fair or poor health. Three-quarters of those who were out of work reported having a chronic health condition.

NOTE: This study was the first peer-reviewed study from the formal evaluation of Michigan's expansion, called the Healthy Michigan Plan. The evaluation, funded by a contract with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, was required under Michigan's federal waiver. 

As Renuka Tipirneni, lead author of the study notes, "'Is it worth the cost to screen and track enrollees when only a small minority isn't working who are potentially able to work?"

2. The Medicaid expansion has helped improve individuals' health.

Health improvements mean it is more likely that they will be able to work--now or in the future. 

According to the UM IHPI study, "In all, nearly half of the newly covered Michiganders said their physical health improved in the first year of coverage, and nearly 40 percent said their mental or dental health got better. Those who said their health improved also had the most chance of experiencing an effect on their work life. As a group, they were four times more likely to say that getting Medicaid coverage helped them do a better job at work. And those who felt their health had improved, but were out of work, were three times as likely to say that their coverage helped them look for a job."

3. Work requirements can worsen (or externalize) other problems. 

For instance, a person with epilepsy who loses access to seizure medications could have a seizure while driving and have a car accident. The cost, then, is to the individual (who is injured by the car accident and seizure), to the costs to the insurance system, and potentially to other individuals involved in the car accident.

4. Work requirements cost the system more.

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Work requirements drive people to more expensive care. Rather than a person getting preventive care, and a prescription, from a primary care doctor for an easily treated problem like high blood pressure, they are more likely to end up in the emergency room, where they know they will not be turned away. Rather than getting a free flu vaccine, they are more likely to get the flu--ending up infecting others, requiring time off work, and perhaps risking a hospitalization. 

5. Work requirements place a huge administrative burden on Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) staff.  

DHHS staff already struggle under enormous caseloads. The administrative burden of this additional work is significant. The true number of people who could work but aren't is small. Yet requiring people to show that they are working, or cannot work, requires a lot of time on the part of DHHS staff.

Paperwork photo by Tom Ventura

Paperwork photo by Tom Ventura

6. Work requirements place a huge administrative burden on individuals with Medicaid.

In addition, they are likely to affect many others. For instance, if one person in a family does not return proof they are working, others in the family may be wrongfully cut off. This policy is another bureaucratic obstacle intended to keep poor people from getting healthcare.

7. We are in the midst of an opioid epidemic and a surge in suicides.

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Mental health and substance use disorder services are essential; suicide is preventable. Work requirements make it difficult for individuals getting mental health or substance use treatment to continue to get treatment. In 2015, the State of Michigan's Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force report recommended " exploring ways for the State to increase access to care, including wraparound services and MAT [Medication-Assisted Therapy], as indicated by national and state guidelines for treatment. (p. 20)" Work requirements would surely reduce access to care. 

8. Work requirements put physicians and nurses in an untenable position.

Physicians take the Hippocratic oath, to do no harm, but if people are cut off of Medicaid and physicians are unable to get paid for patient visits, their organizations will find it financially untenable to take care of these patients. That is one reason that the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Osteopathic Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have taken a position against Medicaid work requirements. Read their statement here.

9. Work requirements threaten the health of people with disabilities.


As the IHPI study indicates, many individuals who have Medicaid and are not working are doing so because they are in poor or fair health. In the experience of staff at the Washtenaw Health Plan, in many cases the access to health care allows people to either a) get better, and start working or b) get the necessary evidence from competent physicians to show that they are disabled. Without Medicaid, many individuals would not be able to collect the medical evidence to prove that they are disabled. In 2016, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 36% of people on Medicaid who are not working are disabled.

10. The Washtenaw Health Plan and the Washtenaw County Health Department believe that healthcare is a human right.

We oppose efforts to reduce access to coverage, and believe in healthcare for all. The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners agrees with us. Read their resolution here

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Washtenaw County Opposes Repeal or Weakening of the Affordable Care Act

The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution Feb. 1 to oppose any repeal or weakening of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The resolution cited the vast number of county residents the ACA has helped, as well as the local economic opportunities it has provided.

“The Affordable Care Act is helping people – the uninsured rate in Washtenaw County has dropped by half since 2010,” says Andy LaBarre, chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. “As a community, we want to support residents’ health and productivity. Maintaining what we’ve gained with respect to affordable health coverage is one clear way to do this.”

The Affordable Care Act is helping people – the uninsured rate in Washtenaw County has dropped by half since 2010.
— Andy LaBarre, Chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners

The Washtenaw County Board of Health also passed a similar resolution.

“A repeal of the ACA would be detrimental to Washtenaw County in so many ways.” says Felicia Brabec, Washtenaw County Commissioner and member of the Washtenaw County Board of Health. “More people have affordable coverage, and that coverage is not necessarily tied to their employer. This encourages entrepreneurship. It also promotes preventative health care and mental health in our community.”

The Washtenaw Health Plan sent a letter encouraging the continuation of the ACA, and supporting additional efforts to strengthen access to care, to federal legislators. The Board of Commissioners also resolved to send the resolution to the federal and state legislative delegations representing Washtenaw County.

Both the resolution and the letter outline how the Affordable Care Act has benefited Washtenaw County. For example, over 16,000 individuals in Washtenaw County have enrolled in the Healthy Michigan Plan (the Medicaid expansion), and 13,500 have enrolled in Marketplace insurance. That is nearly one in ten Washtenaw County residents who now have insurance due to the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act also benefits those who are self-employed or whose employers do not offer them insurance, young adults up to age 26 who can stay on their parents’ health plans, and individuals with pre-existing conditions. A University of Michigan study found that the Medicaid expansion has created 30,000 jobs, and has provided $2.3 billion in economic activity across the state.

For personal testimonies of how the ACA has helped individuals locally, watch these two videos, created by the Washtenaw Health Plan and Washtenaw County Public Health, about a dance instructor and a graduate student who were able to find insurance through the ACA. 

Want to tell your story of how the Affordable Care Act helped you? Email us directly!

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Who Is The WHP And What Do We Do?

Who is the Washtenaw Health Plan?

The simple answer to the question of who is the Washtenaw Health Plan goes like this:

We are a non-profit. We are a public-private partnership supported with the help of Washtenaw County, our local health systems, University of Michigan Health System and St. Joseph Mercy Health System, and other local healthcare providers. We started as a safety net health program for low-income Washtenaw County residents who didn't have access to insurance, and we still run that program. [Read about our history here.]


But now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more people have other options--Medicaid, the Marketplace, employer insurance. So the WHP's Plan B safety net program still exists, but first we'll see if you qualify for insurance that meets the Affordable Care Act mandate. We believe in healthcare coverage. We have seen it save lives. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but we believe it moves us in the right direction--toward healthcare for all

So nowadays, we spend most of our time helping people figure out their healthcare options

The WHP staff at our holiday celebration!  Come meet us in person! 

The WHP staff at our holiday celebration!  Come meet us in person! 

We help you assess your healthcare coverage options. We advocate with and for you if you need help with DHHS or the health insurance Marketplace. We have learned a lot about the systems and policies that make the healthcare systems run, and sometimes what might seem like magic to you is just us having done this application hundreds of times before. 

We explain unfamiliar terms like deductible and maximum out-of-pocket costs. We listen to what you need. We explain what kind of proofs you need to provide for income or immigration verifications. We write this blog, and maintain this website.

All of this work is motivated by a deep and abiding belief that everybody deserves access to health care. Yes, everyone. So we'll help people who are parents or kids, tall or short, fat or thin, employed or unemployed, single or families, immigrant or citizen, happy or sad. We'll help you if you know exactly what you are eligible for, or if you have no idea what your options are. We'll speak English, Spanish, French or Arabic in the office, and if you speak a different language--we'll call for interpretation help. We'll help you if you live in Washtenaw County, and we'll help you if you don't. 

In Other Words: We Help People--Like You!

And, in fact, the tagline of our new advertising campaign is: We Help People--Like You!

Our hope for 2017 is that we will help even more people like you.

With our new ad campaign, we've got ads running on buses with our friends over at the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (also known as The Ride). We are distributing posters around town as well. Thanks to The Ride for donating the advertising space on the buses, and thanks to Pete Sickman-Garner for his graphics design work.

Look for these posters on The Ride!

Look for these posters on The Ride!

We've shown you some of the advertising posters in this blog post, but here's how you can help us!

1. Download some poster copies here (they print in 8-1/2" x 11" or 11" x 17"). Post them where you work or play! You can also share them electronically or on social media. 

2. Ride the bus? Take a picture of one of our posters on the bus. Tag us on social media, and we'll send you a prize pack! You can find us on facebook, instagram, and twitter @coveragecounts. 

3. Have you been helped by us? Word of mouth works--tell your friends! (Also--reviews work too. Feel free to review the Washtenaw Health Plan on Yelp or Google+.)

Here's to 2017! Help Us Help More People--Like You!

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Get 'Em While It's Hot Out! Immunizations are Free and Essential

It's Hot! It's August! It's...National Immunization Awareness Month! 

Plus--school is about to start, and kids in certain grades need to have their immunizations up to date! In fact, in some cases adults need boosters or new vaccines as well.

Huuuuuuge Benefits

Immunizations (also known as vaccines, or "shots") pay big dividends:

  • They protect you and your children from diseases that in years past injured and killed many people;
  • They protect other people--vulnerable people like babies, senior citizens, and people whose immune systems are weak--from getting sick. 

Vaccines Are Free

Under the Affordable Care Act, required vaccinations are part of preventive care--and generally, whether you have Medicaid, a Marketplace plan, or employer coverage--they will be covered 100%.

For uninsured children, the Washtenaw County Public Health immunization program has a Vaccines for Children program; and there are discounts for uninsured adults as well. (But wait a minute--if you are uninsured, come visit the Washtenaw Health Plan or another assister agency for help getting covered!)

Vaccine Waivers

New state law in Michigan (2015) tightens up the requirements for families who want to opt out of some or all immunizations. As Washtenaw County Public Health notes, 

If a child is not up-to-date on her or his vaccinations, a waiver is required for the child to enroll in: a licensed childcare; preschool or Head Start;  kindergarten; seventh grade; or a new school district. Under the new rules parents or guardians must participate in a science-based educational session with their local public health department. In Washtenaw County, waiver appointments can be scheduled by calling Washtenaw County Public Health at 734-544-6700.

Learn More

Background information on vaccines can be found here:




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WHP Profile: Jean Amador

It's Friday! Learn about a WHP staff member.

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I Need a Ride to the Doctor - Your Medicaid Transportation Benefit

Free rides to the doctor? Okay!

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Summer Fun and Food at Local Libraries

Looking to keep your family busy this summer? Check out your local library!

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