healthcare

Stateside
3:52 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Health professionals trained in environmental issues also learn to share knowledge with community

A physician administers a vaccination.
CDC CDC


It takes a lot of heavy lifting to become a physician, a nurse, a dietician or other health-care professional. Long years of coursework and clinical training leave little room to learn other important skills – the kind of skills that can make a health professional an important player in the public policy sphere and prepared to tackle some of our most urgent environmental health challenges.

That's why the Ecology Center is offering a new fellowship program that can train health professionals about effective civic engagement and environmental health risks.

Listen to the full piece above.

Stateside
3:40 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

How to compare medical costs – right now

Do you compare costs before stepping into a doctor's office?
Fotos GOVBA Flickr

Cost comparison – it can be an effective way of saving money. Whether it's comparing the price of a cup of coffee – Starbucks versus Tim Horton's, for instance – or comparing gas prices in different parts of the city or state, checking out cost differences is, for many, just part of a regular day.

But what about comparing medical costs? Would you have any idea what, say, a hip replacement might cost at the hospital you go to?

If you could tease out those prices and compare them, you might find yourself wondering: Why do some hospitals in the same city or state charge thousands of dollars more for the same procedure? And why is it so tough to get those prices?

Those are the questions Ilene Wolff, a writer with DBusiness, explored in a recent story.

To compare prices of services at different hospitals, visit healthcarebluebook.comTo look up hospital quality information, visit hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
4:39 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

We check in with those in Michigan looking for health insurance

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

It was October 1 when the Healthcare.gov website opened for business.The rocky launch of the public portal to the Affordable Care Act has consumed much of the nation's attention and news space.

The December 23 enrollment deadline is at hand. That's when you have to have signed up if you want a policy by January 1.

We wanted to see if the consumer experience with Healthcare.gov has improved - see what problems remain - and find out how many of us have been able to complete applications and actually select a marketplace plan.

Don Hazaert joined us today. He's the director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare. It's one of four navigator agencies in our state for the Affordable Care Act.

You can find the agencies here.

Hazaert said, no question, there have been significant frustrations with the enrollment process, but that has changed since December 1. The Healthcare.gov website is working much better. Hazaert says those people who have signed up since December 1 have had a much smoother experience, especially those signing up with a new account.

Navigators are still trying to work with those individuals who started the process prior to December 1. We asked so of our listeners about their experiences with signing up for health care coverage.

Tom is 57 and lives in Ann Arbor and has been out of work for a year and a half. He's been paying for health insurance out of pocket for himself and his wife. It's been very expensive. His insurance company helped him sign up on Healthcare.gov. He received a subsidy to help him cover his costs. His online experience was good. 

"The price of the new policy is about half the price of the old policy and the deductible is about half as well, so I'm in a win-win situation as far as that's concerned," said Tom.

Diane Kay is 33-year-old attorney from Brighton, MI. She had a job change and hasn't been insured since 2007. She has a pre-existing condition so insurance companies wouldn't cover her, or it was prohibitively expensive. She's still paying back a lot of debt she incurred from a stay in the hospital. She got insurance through Healthcare.gov in November and said the process was not difficult.

Sasha Acker is 22-year-old social worker from Kalamazoo. She works part-time and doesn't get insurance from the company she works for. She had an extremely frustrating experience with Healthcare.gov, but was eventually able to sign up for coverage. She's excited to have insurance but has not been able to log back in to make her first payment. 

"I called in about six times, and they told me basically that since they made a bunch of upgrades to the website some of the accounts got corrupted and people can't access them anymore. Nobody has a solution for me," said Acker.

Don Hazaert with Michigan Consumers for Healthcare says Acker will need to make a payment before the start of the New Year to get her insurance.

He says her frustration is most likely with the 800 number she's calling and that he suggests she get in touch with a health care navigator in Michigan.

Hazaert says in 2014, they look forward to moving the conversation away from a troubled website to the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

*This story was informed by the Public Insight Network.

Politics & Government
12:09 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

After two months, success with HeathCare.gov

It worked!
Credit Screen shot from healthcare.gov

President Obama said that glitches in the healthcare.gov website would be fixed by November 30. Now that that deadline has passed, we wanted to check back in to see how the website was running.

I tried to apply for coverage on October 1, the day the marketplace opened, which didn't work

Though I checked back several times in the last two months, there were still a lot of glitches. I tried accessing my old application yesterday, and still there were problems. The website hung when I was trying to choose the amount of tax credit I apply toward my coverage.

Let's start over, shall we?

NPR reported that a lot of people who weren't able to shop for coverage are now able to because of a "reset button."

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Economy
3:59 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

The 10 Michigan communities with the highest legacy costs

Detroit has the third-highest legacy debt per capita.
Patricia Drury Flickr

To call Detroit’s legacy costs underfunded would be, well, an understatement.

According to the city’s numbers, Detroit’s pension and retiree healthcare funds are about $9.2 billion short.

But Detroit is not the only Michigan city with major legacy costs — not by a long shot.

Legacy costs, or costs undertaken by local government for future use, have been taken on by more than 280 of Michigan’s 1,800 communities, according to data compiled by Bridge Magazine.

And while Detroit has the highest amount of total unfunded legacy cost, the per capita numbers show a slightly different picture.

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Politics & Government
12:25 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Healthcare enrollment numbers are low in Michigan, here's our experience

Why won't healthcare.gov work?
use: dougwoods Flickr

Yesterday, the Department of Heath and Human Services released a detailed enrollment report on the number of people who looked for insurance coverage from October 1 to November 2.

The number of people who enrolled in coverage is low.

According to the report, 23,987 applications were completed in Michigan. Of those completed applications, only 1,329 enrolled in a plan.

What's the difference between 'completed application' and 'enrollment?'

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Politics & Government
3:34 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Study: 436,000 Michiganders qualify for subsidized healthcare

A nurse administering a shot.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

More than 436,000 Michigan residents will qualify for tax subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, according to a report released today from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

According to the study, 17 million Americans are eligible for tax credits that will lower their cost of coverage.

Most of those eligible folks come from states with high populations: Texas, for instance, is estimated to have over 2 million residents who would qualify for subsidies.

California’s not far behind with $1.9 million.

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Stateside
3:31 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Why are millions of Americans losing health care coverage?

user mudowp Twitter

Ever since the government unveiled its healthcare.gov website, the headlines surrounding the Affordable Care Act have been about the problems with the way the site was designed and the extreme difficulty Americans have had in getting on the exchange to shop for health insurance.

But, what about the Americans that don't need healthcare.gov? The ones who already have plans? Some 14 million consumers buy their own insurance individually.

And to those consumers, President Obama has been saying this since 2009:

“If you like your current insurance, you will keep your current insurance. No government takeover, nobody’s changing what you’ve got if you’re happy with it.”

So why, then, are some 2 million Americans - about 140,000 in Michigan - getting cancelation letters from their insurers?

Marianne Udow-Phillips directs the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, a non-profit partnership between the University of Michigan and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan. She joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Business
12:46 pm
Sun October 27, 2013

Health firm's growth impacts Detroit area

DETROIT (AP) - Changes in federal and state health care laws have created huge growth for Michigan's largest Medicaid HMO.

The Detroit News reports that growth at Meridian Health Plan is also benefiting Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park because of developments financed by the family that runs Meridian.

Jon Cotton is chief operating officer of Meridian Health Plan. It was founded as Health Plan of Michigan in 1997 by his parents, David and Shery Cotton.

He says the changes in health care are creating opportunities that won't be seen for another century.

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Politics & Government
7:38 am
Wed October 2, 2013

In this morning's headlines: Shutdown, Medicaid delays, Belle Isle deal

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Shutdown could cost Michigan $18 million a day

"Michigan’s budget chief says the federal shutdown could cost the state $18 million dollars a day in lost funding. Budget Director John Nixon says he does not expect that to happen unless the shutdown lasts more than two weeks. He says, after that, pre-funding for some big programs will run out," Rick Pluta reports.

Delays in Medicaid sign up

"The Michigan Department of Community Health is still working to start early enrollment to help people sign up for Michigan's expanded Medicaid program. Michigan's Medicaid expansion also still needs to be approved by the federal government. That means hundreds of thousands of low-wage Michiganders could have to wait weeks or months to enroll," Jake Neher reports

The state to take over Detroit's Belle Isle

"The state of Michigan has signed a deal to lease Detroit’s Belle Isle. Governor Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr have both approved the 30-year plan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will run Belle Isle as a state park, saving Detroit an estimated $4 million a year in maintenance costs," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Health
3:56 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Looking for health insurance this fall? These 'navigators' can help

Medical instruments.
user striatic Flickr

If you’re a Michigander looking for health insurance this fall, relax — help is on the way. Well, at least some help.

Earlier this August, Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reported four groups were picked by the federal government to navigate Michigan’s uninsured — or underinsured — through the new health insurance market developed under the Affordable Care Act.

On October 1 — the day the new marketplace opens up — the aptly named “navigators” will guide Michigan residents through their choices under Obamacare.

“Navigators are entities that are working on behalf of the exchange at no cost to consumers,” said Don Hazaert, the executive director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare. MCH is one of the organizations selected to navigate Michiganders, along with Community Bridges Management, the Arab Community Center for Economic & Social Services, and American Indian Health and Family Services of Southeastern Michigan.

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Politics & Government
11:02 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Pushing for Medicaid expansion in Michigan, Gov. Snyder goes to the UP

Gov. Snyder at Marquette General Hospital today for a press conference.

"This is about caring about one another, eh."

Well, he probably didn't turn on his Upper Peninsula dialect, but he certainly carried his message of support for Medicaid expansion in Michigan to the Yoopers.

Ever since he cut his trade mission to Israel short last month, Gov. Snyder has been pushing the state Senate to pass a bill that would allow the state to offer Medicaid to almost a half a million Michigan citizens.

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Health
3:13 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

When you can't afford to go to the emergency room: Michigan families and Medicaid

Jen and Todd Nagle can't afford the ER right now. But they and 470,000 would get covereage if Medicaid expands.
Kate Wells Michigan Radio

Hear the full story above.

For a lot of uninsured families in Michigan, this is a big week.

Lawmakers in Lansing are sloooowly moving ahead with expanding the state’s Medicaid program.

That would give another 470,000 Michiganders coverage.

So who exactly are we talking about here?

The morning I meet Jen and Todd Nagle, we have no clue the day will end with Todd being rushed to the doctor for chest pains.

Read more
Politics & Government
11:08 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Tea Party activists opposing Gov. Rick Snyder's re-election

Tea Party activists in Kalamazoo.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - More than 30 conservative and tea party activists say they won't support Gov. Rick Snyder's re-election because of his support for expanding Medicaid eligibility to more Michigan adults under the federal health care law.

In an open letter to the Republican governor Tuesday, the advocates faulted him for consulting with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Medicaid expansion.

They accuse Snyder of purposefully sticking a "finger in the eye of his own conservative base." The activists - including some of Michigan's better-known tea party advocates - say a "line must be drawn."

Snyder and Republican legislative leaders sent a letter to Sebelius May 29 asking her to meet with them in Michigan. The House is considering legislation that would expand Medicaid but require a federal waiver.

Health
1:18 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Michigan residents could lose insurance

Up to half a million Michigan residents could lose their insurance if Medicaid is not expanded.

Up to half a million Michigan residents could lose their health insurance if the legislature fails to expand Medicaid.

Low-income Michiganders covered by local health plans could lose their coverage in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. The law was written with the assumption states would accept federal funds to expand Medicaid.

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Health
12:33 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Low-income Michiganders target of new health insurance cooperative

Consumers Mutual hopes to cover people across the state.
user Laura4Smith Flickr

37,000 low-income Michiganders and small-business customers may be eligible for health coverage through a new health insurance cooperative, the Lansing State Journal reports.

With $72 million in federal funding, Consumers Mutual Insurance of Michigan is an alternative health care option for families and businesses looking for coverage after provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect January 2014.

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Politics & Government
4:04 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Snyder still confident Legislature will accept Medicaid expansion

A state House subcommittee has stripped a provision from a budget bill to expand Michigan’s Medicaid program.

The money to add more than 400 thousand people to Medicaid would come from the federal government under the new national healthcare law.

Some Republicans say they don’t trust Washington to keep that promise or that they want to see some changes to Medicaid before they’ll support it.

Roger Martin is the spokesman for a coalition of businesses and healthcare providers that supports the expansion. He says concerns that the federal government will eventually cut off the money is unfounded.

“I can’t name one instance where the federal government has made a promise in law, that was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Congress and the president had, and then pulled the plug on. I can’t name one. So basically I think it’s a Trojan horse argument.”

Governor Rick Snyder says he expects the Legislature will ultimately accept federal money to expand Michigan’s Medicaid program

“This is just a part of the legislative process. There are usually some challenges. But, again, the track record’s good about overcoming barriers. Do you get everything you want? Not necessarily, but you work hard and achieve the goals that really count – relentless positive action.”

Governor Rick Snyder called for the Medicaid expansion in his new budget proposal. He considers the subcommittee action a temporary setback.

Health
3:55 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

State House panel votes to accept federal dollars to set up health care exchange

Lester Graham Michigan Radio

A bill to set up a healthcare exchange in Michigan has passed its first hurdle in the state Legislature. A House panel today voted to accept more than $30 million from Washington to set up the exchange.

It would be a partnership between the state and the federal government under the Affordable Care Act.

House Appropriations Chair Joe Haveman says the alternative would be a federal exchange with no state control.

“Although it may appear like it was a step in the wrong direction or endorsing Obamacare, this was the conservative vote. The other vote was the liberal vote to say ‘we want the federal government to take us over.’”

Governor Rick Snyder wanted an exchange run entirely by the state. But lawmakers did not act in time, and that’s now off the table.

The bill now goes to the floor of the state House.

Health
11:02 am
Fri December 7, 2012

Why some seniors are sick over Blue Cross overhaul

Some seniors say the changes will hit them hardest.
photo by Anna Strumillo Phuket - Thailand www.fotopedia.com

A lot of Michigan seniors are not happy with some of the proposed changes to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The legislature is overhauling Blue Cross, changing it from a charity to a state-tax paying business.

But some seniors say it could make their healthcare bills skyrocket, or even take away some of their health insurance plans all together.

Now, if your brain is starting to hurt at this point, don’t worry:  contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to understand this healthcare change stuff. Promise.

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Health
5:05 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Federal grant places 85 doctors-in-training in southeast Michigan

User: mconnors MorgueFile.com

A federal grant will put more primary care providers in medically-underserved areas of southeast Michigan.

The $21 million grant will help train medical residents in five federally-qualified health centers.

The program is a partnership between Michigan State University’s medical school and the Detroit-Wayne County Health Authority.

Chris Allen is CEO of the Health Authority. He says it will add much-needed primary care doctors to the medical safety net.

“And it ultimately will provide medical homes for the people who live in these areas, and thus not a reliance on the emergency room for their care," he said.

Allen says residents who participate in the program will be eligible for medical school loan forgiveness.

The plan is to train 85 residents over three years, starting next summer. Allen says after learning the practice in southeast Michigan residencies, the new doctors will stay in the area.

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