public health

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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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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