Immigrants particularly hurt by Flint water crisis

Allowing families of any background, including undocumented immigrants, to drink poisoned water is unconscionable. But immigrants have often been overlooked in the Flint water crisis, and to this day many are afraid to get help.

Three months after the governor declared a state of emergency, undocumented immigrants were still drinking tap water. Parents were saddened to learn that they missed information regarding the dangers of Flint tap water due to limited translated materials. Many didn’t know lead was a toxic contaminant or thought that boiling would purify their water. Boiling actually concentrates lead.

Other problems arose for immigrants once they did find out about the lead crisis and sought assistance. A few bottled water stations were initially asking undocumented residents for ID before handing out water, deterring residents from accessing water and raising fears of deportation. It was not until community members organized to draw attention to this abominable situation that the state announced no IDs were required to receive water.

FlintImmigrantInfoToday, while immigrants have received assurances that they will not be under threat of deportation for seeking clean water, many remain afraid. Flint residents at large lost their trust in the state government over the course of the past year as they received information now proven false about the purity of their tap water and the state’s measures to treat the Flint River water.

For undocumented immigrants who live in fear of deportation, reports of community members being asked for identification along with water being distributed by officers in uniform raised alarms and heightened fears of detainment and deportation. For now, these families must trust community groups and grassroots organizations that have worked diligently to inform them of their rights and provide them with correct information. For the immigrants left too long in the dark and who allowed their young children to drink the seemingly innocuous tap water, this is all too little too late.

This crisis illustrates why it is so important to provide basic services including healthcare to immigrants regardless of immigration status. While most families now have access to clean water, they still have limited access to healthcare due to lack of health insurance and cultural barriers in accessing the small number of community clinics that may take those without insurance. The Affordable Care Act did not extend insurance coverage to undocumented immigrants.

Without health insurance or identification, many immigrant families are not even able to have their kids tested for lead, let alone receive medical services. Among the many things the state must take responsibility for, it is imperative that every single child and family in Flint that was devastated by this manmade disaster, regardless of immigration status, is cared for and provided with immediate assistance and long-term health care.

— Seema Singh

Supreme Court: Another chance to affirm ACA as the law of the land — the whole land

There is a lot at stake for about 300,000 Michiganians as the U.S. Supreme Court begins consideration of the King v. Burwell case today.

This case will  determine whether the Affordable Care Act permits the federal government to provide premium tax credits to qualifying individuals anywhere in the U.S. or only in states that established their own Health Insurance Marketplaces.

An adverse ruling in this case could eliminate these tax credits established in the law to make coverage more affordable. It is hard to imagine that Congress would have intended to pick winners and losers for healthcare coverage in such an arbitrary and surreptitious manner. (more…)

‘Yes’ on road funding is right direction

From the League’s First Tuesday newsletter
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It’s a pivotal time for Michigan public policy. Decisions made in the next few months will determine the path Michigan takes into the future.

In three short months, voters on May 5 will decide Proposal 1, the road funding package. There’s no doubt that this is Michigan’s single best chance to raise sorely needed money to pay for road repairs and put new dollars into school classrooms all while protecting families earning the least. (more…)

Another milestone for the Healthy Michigan Plan

The Healthy Michigan Plan reached another milestone this week with enrollment topping 481,000. That number exceeds the original enrollment projection of 477,000 for the entire program. It was expected to take two years to achieve full enrollment.

What an accomplishment in nine months!

The best part is that enrollees are actually receiving healthcare services. According to the Department of Community Health, more than 315,000 primary care and preventive care visits have occurred since the program was implemented. Enrollees are clearly engaged in improving their health and taking advantage of the services now available to them to do so. (more…)

400,000 reasons to give thanks

From the First Tuesday newsletter
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As we head into the month of November, there are more than 400,000 reasons to give thanks.

That’s how many previously uninsured or underinsured people in Michigan are now able to access healthcare thanks to the Healthy Michigan Plan.

The plan passed the Michigan Legislature last year with bipartisan support as part of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. About half the states have taken this step to improve the health of their citizens.

The League was part of a strong, diverse coalition that supported the expansion. Those efforts are now bearing an amazing amount of fruit. (more…)

Healthcare coverage on the upswing

There is some good news out today in terms of health insurance.

The share of uninsured people in Michigan fell from 11.4% in 2012 to 11% in 2012, according to today’s Census Bureau release, with major additional improvements expected ahead due to the Affordable Care Act.

Still, more than 1 million in Michigan were without health insurance in 2013, according to the Census Bureau. That number is expected to decline dramatically as the Healthy Michigan Plan (Michigan’s Medicaid expansion), Marketplace enrollment and other provisions in the Affordable Care Act get counted in the numbers that will be released next fall. (more…)

Healthy Michigan plan enrollment tops 275,000

Enrollment in the Healthy Michigan Plan as of June 2 totals 276,622. This is truly remarkable considering the program was implemented just over two months ago on April 1. Genesee County, at 98.5%, has enrolled the highest percentage of those potentially eligible. What a great achievement.

The Healthy Michigan Plan is Michigan’s unique Medicaid expansion plan. It provides comprehensive healthcare coverage to Michigan’s low-income uninsured residents. To be eligible for the program, an individual must be between the ages of 19 and 64, not currently eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, a citizen or lawfully admitted to the U.S., and have income less than 133% of the federal poverty level (up to $15,521 for an individual or $31,721 for a family of four).

Application for the program can be made by phone (1-855-789-5610), online at www.michigan.gov/mibridges, or in person at a local Department of Human Services office. Applications made through the on-line system can have eligibility determined in a matter of minutes and sometimes even seconds. (more…)

Healthy Michigan Plan gets healthy start!

The Healthy Michigan Plan, Michigan’s Medicaid expansion, opened for enrollment on April 1, and within the first 72 hours, 36,329 applications were submitted through the MIBridges website and 20,995 were approved for coverage. By Tuesday, the number of enrolled shot up to 59,280 — an amazing number for a two-week period.  That means that more than 109,000 people are now covered, including those who were transferred over to the plan from the Adult Benefits Waiver program.

The program is off to a great start — great news for Michigan’s low-income uninsured. The online enrollment system is working well with the majority of applications being processed in a matter of minutes or even seconds. (more…)

Attorney general needs to move on

Attorney General Bill Schuette continues his fight to harm Michiganians by pursuing frivolous lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act.

First he fought to have the law declared unconstitutional and lost — the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the ACA does not violate the Constitution. Now he is fighting to end the premium tax credits for more than 144,000 Michiganians who have so far qualified for them.

Nearly 87% of those who have enrolled in a health plan in Michigan are eligible for premium tax credits to help them pay their insurance premiums. Why would he want to harm more than 144,000 people in his state — his neighbors, his friends, his constituents? (more…)

Healthy Michigan Plan enrollment opens April 1

The Department of Community Health has announced open enrollment will begin for the Healthy Michigan Plan on April 1. This long-awaited announcement is great news for Michigan’s low-income uninsured residents.

Starting next week, adults (ages 19-64) in families with incomes below 133% of the federal poverty level (up to $15,521 for an individual or $31,721 for a family of four) who are not currently eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, and not pregnant, will be able to apply for the comprehensive coverage offered by the Healthy Michigan Plan. Citizenship, or lawful admittance to the U.S., is also required. (more…)

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