In this e-newsletter:
- Upcoming Coffee Hour
- Earth Day Cleanup
- Medicaid Redeterminations
- Automatic Expungement
- Legislation Voted Out of Committee
- Current COVID-19 Trends
Upcoming Coffee Hour
Please join me for an informal, in-person discussion of legislative and community issues at my next coffee hour:
WHEN: Friday, April 21, from noon-1 p.m.
WHERE: Walnut and Park Diner, 1324 Portage St., Kalamazoo, MI 49001
While advance registration is not required, anyone who would like to RSVP or submit questions in advance may do so by emailing JulieRogers@house.mi.gov.
We will be following all CDC guidelines related to COVID-19. If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, we ask that you please stay home.
Earth Day Cleanup
Before attending my coffee hour on Friday, April 21, I hope you will join me and the 41st District Service Office for our annual Earth Day Cleanup from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Participants should meet at the 41st District Service Office located at 315 N. Burdick Street and plan on bringing work gloves. We will provide trash bags and light refreshments. I hope you will join me in sprucing up our community and making our planet a cleaner and healthier place to live!
Medicaid recipients, keep an eye on your mailbox so you don’t lose coverage!
Starting in April 2023, for those who participate in Medicaid or the Healthy Michigan Plan, the next time you renew coverage you will once again have to prove you are eligible for benefits, even if you have qualified before. Renewals had been paused because of the COVID-19 public health emergency but will be restarting due to recent changes in federal legislation.
Here are the steps that Medicaid beneficiaries should take, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS):
- Make sure your address, phone number and email address are up to date at Michigan.gov/MIBridges. You can also call your local MDHHS office. If you do not have an online account for MI Bridges to access your Medicaid case or report changes, visit Michigan.gov/MIBridges to sign up for an account. You can also locate organizations that can help you by searching for community partners.
- Report any changes to your household or income. You can report changes at Michigan.gov/MIBridges or by calling your local MDHHS office.
- If you get a renewal packet, be sure to fill it out, sign the forms and return it by the due date with any proof needed. NOTE: If you do not complete and return the renewal, you may lose Medicaid coverage.
Some Medicaid participants may be told they no longer qualify for Medicaid or the Healthy Michigan Plan. Those Michiganders will receive additional information about other health insurance options, including purchasing a plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace, where affected Michiganders will be able to shop for and enroll in comprehensive health insurance. Thanks to federal subsidies, many Michiganders will be able to purchase a plan for less than $10 per month.
For questions about purchasing a health plan on HealthCare.gov, visit Michigan.gov/StayCovered or call the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services at 877-999-6442, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Clean Slate Act, which was signed into law in October 2020, has been providing individuals who have not committed crimes for years following their conviction the expungement of most misdemeanors and certain felonies. Under the process in place since April 2021, individuals were forced to apply for expungement, which could take anywhere from six months to a year to be approved because of high demand and court backlogs. The legislation gave the state time to develop software to automatically expunge offenses from criminal records without requiring an application.
On April 11, the new Michigan State Police-administered software went live with plans to submit to the courts daily reports of crimes that are eligible for expungement. This will remove from the public record the convictions of those who have not reoffended seven years since their conviction, so they have fewer barriers to employment.
For more information about the Clean Slate Act and assistance in the program, please visit the Attorney General’s Expungement Assistance page.
Legislation Voted Out of Committee
The past month has been exciting — two of my bills have been voted out of committee and sent to the House floor for further consideration.
House Bill 4224 would eliminate the legally unenforceable and defunct workforce engagement requirements added to the Healthy Michigan Plan. The work requirements adopted in 2018 are no longer enforceable as the federal government rescinded the waiver for Michigan to impose these provisions in April of 2021. Keeping this outdated statute on the books undermines the state’s efforts to drive down health care costs by expanding access to primary care. Early access to health care services has been proven to drive down costs.
Medicaid is health care, and everyone should have access to affordable and quality health care. I am delighted that a majority of the members on the House Health Policy Committee, on which I am incredibly fortunate to serve as chair, supported eliminating these burdensome provisions. On March 23, the committee voted to send this bill to the House Floor, and I am diligently working to see that it is passed by the House.
I also saw movement on another bill, House Bill 4083, that phases out the use of perchlorethylene (PERC) in dry cleaning solvents in the state and creates a fund to assist dry cleaners in the transition to safer chemicals and processes. PERC is a neurotoxin and carcinogen that is extraordinarily expensive to clean up after spills or contamination.
The bill outlines a multiyear phase-out of the use of PERC in dry cleaning, which gives dry cleaners ample time to invest in alternative equipment and processes. This will prevent future brownfield sites as dry cleaners use products that do not contain “forever” chemicals, which do not break down and pose health threats years after release in the environment.
Also on March 23, the House Committee on Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation voted to report my bill to the House floor, where I am hopeful it will be scheduled for a vote in the near future.
Current COVID-19 Trends
In Michigan, the weekly confirmed COVID-19 cases have fallen 17% to the lowest level since July 2020. Statewide, according to the CDC, 82 of Michigan’s 83 counties are in the low category for community prevalence of COVID-19. Monroe County is currently in the medium category. There are currently 658 COVID-19 positive patients in hospitals, which was 785 patients last week — the lowest number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 since August 6, 2021.
In Kalamazoo County, only 3% of staffed in-patient beds are occupied with COVID-19 patients, and the daily reported cases are down to 3 per 100,000 from 5 per 100,000 in the preceding week.
As we move into warmer weather, please remember to get outside and move as you are able!