On May 11, COVID-19 emergencies will end, and millions of Medicaid beneficiaries may lose valued benefits. Here’s why: It was March 13, 2020, when the President declared that the COVID-19 pandemic was a national emergency. Trillions of federal dollars have supported the health and welfare of the American people through numerous lifesaving programs and initiatives. For example, many received increases in food stamps and, because of emergency waivers during the pandemic, many could enroll in Medicaid for much-needed health care without the need to meet qualifications. When the emergency officially ends on May 11, many will be deemed ineligible for not meeting Medicaid policy guidelines.
If you or someone you know enrolled in Medicaid during the pandemic, a Letter of Redetermination will arrive in the mail from MDHHS – the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Completion of the document will determine if the qualifications are met for continued coverage. For any questions about this issue, or anything related to Medicare and Medicaid, contact: Michigan Medicare-Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP), 1-800-803-7174.
Calls to this toll-free number are routed by area code and calls from 313 go directly to the MMAP counselors at the Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA). For Medicaid recipients enrolled in long-term care programs administered by DAAA, our role is to ensure that eligible beneficiaries will not be deemed ineligible for continued services. If you or someone you know may lose coverage after the redetermination, it makes sense to take care of routine office visits, medical tests, and prescriptions while insurance coverage is in place.
Feeding MI Families seeks to elevate Michigan families’ experiences of food access and food assistance with the goal of developing parent-driven priorities for improving food assistance and nutrition security in our state. Parents can enroll in a text-message based survey about their experiences and receive $25. A sub-set of parents will participate in a more in depth interview, for which they will receive $50. To participate in English, parents can text FOOD to 734-366-4409. Envíe un mensaje de texto COMIDA a 734-550-4639 para comenzar o visitar FeedingMIFamilies.org/espanol.
Outages come as DTE asks for historic rate hikes on customers, touts its record profit of $1.1 billion
With tens of thousands of Michiganders still without power following last week’s ice storm, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters is calling on legislators to swiftly conduct oversight hearings to investigate how the state’s utilities have once again failed customers.
“The irony is lost on no one that while Michiganders shivered in their homes and tossed out medicine and food, DTE was submitting paperwork to jack up our rates yet again – because massive rate hikes, massive profits and massive campaign donations are the calling card of DTE,” said Bob Allison, deputy director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Our outdated, broken energy grid is the direct result of money flowing for years to the pockets of their CEOs versus investing in improving the service we receive. Power outages have real consequences to people’s health, and these have become too commonplace and widespread in Michigan – we have reached a tipping point.”
Media reports have shown that DTE didn’t pay federal taxes in 2020, with utility spokespersons saying it would ultimately trickle down into savings to customers. Two years ago, both Consumers Energy and DTE spent more than $10 million paying their CEOs.
The Detroit News exposed that 140 out of 146 Michigan lawmakers received some kind of campaign donation from DTE or Consumers Energy, while the monopoly utilities funneled $55 million to political and civic spending.
During the Winter of 2023, students at Allendale Christian School studied the theme of heroism using a variety of texts. Students read stories about heroes from history, such as Harriet Tubman, Miep Gies, and Jackie Robinson, and analyzed what made them heroes and why they decided to act heroically. They applied these same ideas of heroism to our current world and communities, and they ended up finding heroes all around us. They wrote essays about a chosen hero to celebrate the important and impactful things that they do. One student, Ella, chose Our Kitchen Table as her hero! We were honored and humbled by her request. You can read all of the students’ essays here.
Michigan provides Medicaid enrollees with information about options as eligibility requirements restart following recent federal legislation
Eligibility redetermination packets to start being mailed to beneficiariesdepending on renewal date
LANSING, Mich. – Medicaid beneficiaries will have to renew their coverage this year, starting in June, as Michigan resumes Medicaid eligibility redeterminations to comply with federal legislation.
During the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, Congress enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that required state Medicaid agencies continue health care coverage for all medical assistance programs, even if someone’s eligibility changed. Michigan’s Medicaid caseload grew by more than 700,000 people during the public health emergency. This requirement was ended by the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 signed Dec. 29, 2022.
Michiganders who no longer qualify for Medicaid will receive additional information about other affordable health coverage options available, including on HealthCare.gov. Affected Michiganders will be able to shop for and enroll in comprehensive health insurance as they transition away from Medicaid, and many Michiganders can purchase a plan for less than $10 per month.
Renewals for traditional Medicaid and the Healthy Michigan Plan will take place monthly starting in June 2023 and run through May 2024. Monthly renewal notices will be sent three months prior to a beneficiaries’ renewal date starting with June renewal dates. Beneficiaries can check their renewal month at www.michigan.gov/MIBridges.
“MDHHS is strongly committed to ensuring Michiganders who are eligible for Medicaid coverage remain enrolled,” said Elizabeth Hertel, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director. “More than three million Michiganders, including one million Healthy Michigan enrollees, have benefitted from keeping their Medicaid coverage without redeterminations on eligibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. MDHHS is preparing to assist residents who will be affected by changes in their coverage.”
Here is what Michigan Medicaid beneficiaries need to do to prepare:
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.
“The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) is committed to working with MDHHS and our partners nationwide to help impacted Michiganders get the affordable, comprehensive health insurance they need,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “DIFS stands ready to answer questions about purchasing a health insurance plan. Call DIFS at 877-999-6442, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or visit Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance to learn more.”
To ensure beneficiaries are aware of upcoming federal redetermination requirements and help them keep their coverage if eligible, MDHHS is launching a multi-media advertising campaign. This will include radio, audio streaming, outdoor, mobile and social media ads, including minority media outlets and stakeholder communications.
African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms, and police killings since our arrival upon these shores. These efforts have been to advocate for a dignified self-determined life in a just democratic society in the United States and beyond the United States political jurisdiction.
The 1950s and 1970s in the United States was defined by actions such as sit-ins, boycotts, walk outs, strikes by Black people and white allies in the fight for justice against discrimination in all sectors of society from employment to education to housing. Black people have had to consistently push the United States to live up to its ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice for all. Systematic oppression has sought to negate much of the dreams of our griots, like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, and our freedom fighters, like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Septima Clark, and Fannie Lou Hamer fought to realize. Black people have sought ways to nurture and protect Black lives, and for autonomy of their physical and intellectual bodies through armed resistance, voluntary emigration, nonviolence, education, literature, sports, media, and legislation/politics. Black led institutions and affiliations have lobbied, litigated, legislated, protested, and achieved success.
In an effort to live, and maintain and protect economic success Black people have organized/planned violent insurrections against those who enslaved them, such as in Haiti,, and armed themselves against murderous white mobs as seen in Memphis, TN (1892), Rosewood, FL (1923), and New Orleans, LA (1900). Additionally, some Black people thought that the best way to resist was to self-liberate as seen by the actions those who left the plantation system, of Henry Adams and Benjamin “Pap” Singleton, when they led a mass exodus westward in 1879 and Bishop Henry McNeal Turner of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who organized emigration to Liberia.
Black faith institutions were spaces where Black communities met to organize resistance efforts, inspired folk to participate in the movements, and offered sanctuary during times of crisis. To promote awareness of the myriad of issues and activities media outlets were developed including radio shows, podcasts, newspapers (i.e. Chicago Defender, Chicago Bee, the Afro, The California Eagle, Omaha Star, the Crisis, etc.). Ida B. Wells used publications to contest the scourge of lynching. These outlets were pivotal in sharing the successes and challenges of resistance movements.
Cultural centers such as libraries including George Cleveland Hall Library (Chicago, IL), Dart Hall (Charleston, SC) and social, literary, and cultural clubs, such as Jack and Jill, Phillis Wheatley Literary Societies, fraternal and sororal orders, associations (i.e. Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, National Association of Colored Women, etc.) worked to support the intellectual development of communities to collect and preserve Black stories, sponsor Black history and literature events, and were active in the quest for civil, social, and human rights.
Black medical professionals worked with others to establish nursing schools, hospitals, and clinics in order to provide spaces for Black people to get quality health care, which they often did (and do not) receive at mainstream medical institutions. For economic and financial independence businesses, such as Binga Bank, Johnson Publishing Company, Parker House Sausage Company, Soft and Sheen, etc., were developed to keep funds within the community. In order to resist inequality and to advocate for themselves Black men and women formed labor unions based on trades and occupations, some examples, include the Colored National Labor Union, Colored Musicians Club, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and Negro American Labor Council.
Education, whether in elementary, secondary, or higher education institutions have been seen as a way for Black people and communities to resist the narrative that Black people are intellectually inferior. When Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week (NHW) in 1926, he saw it as a way to provide a space and resources to critically educate students about their history. The grassroots network of Black teachers used this week not only to lionize individuals and narratives, but also to teach students about racial progress, and as well as shared and collective responsibility. They developed assignments and curriculum to provide students with the tools to succeed. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), were developed by Northern white philanthropists, but they emerged as a space for the formation of activists, artists, business owners, educators, etc. and their continued operation have stood as testament to Black investment and creative thinking in the face of the changing landscape of higher education. Furthermore, students at HBCUs were at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, Black Power Movements, and social justice movements from the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries.
African American spirituals, gospel, folk music, hip-hop, and rap have been used to express struggle, hope, and for solidarity in the face of racial oppression. Music has been used to illustrate societal issues including white and state sanctioned violence (i.e. Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit), sexual politics (i.e. Salt-N-Pepa’s Let’s Talk About Sex), as motivation, for strength against harassment, and to experience freedom. The Black artists, writers, photographers, and musicians who participated in the Black Arts Movement, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Chicago Black Renaissance were the soundtrack and the visual representation of resistance movements. These individuals created art that supported the resistance movements, but also provided a space for Black people to express love and joy. Creatives used poetry, fiction, short stories, plays, films, and television to counter stereotypes and to imagine a present and future with Black people in it.
Sports are a world pastime, and it both brings people together and separates them. Black athletes have used sports as a way to advocate for social issues and for political agendas. Serena Williams, Flo Jo, Jesse Owens, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Jackie Robinson, Colin Kaepernick, Simone Biles, and many others have used their public forum to bring awareness to issues that affect society as they resisted the idea that they cannot or should not speak about political, cultural, or social issues. Black athletic activists have often suffered personal and economic consequences due to their stances, speech, and actions, but to them it has been worth it to see changes.
Historically and today in the 21st century, Black people have worked the political angle to seek their rightful space in the country. Where race is concerned, legislative or judicial action to deal with controversial issues has often come late. The historic Executive Orders 8802 and 9346 were responses to A. Phillip Randolph and the all-Black March on Washington Movement’s threat to lead a 50,000-strong Black worker’s march into Washington, D.C. And all three of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act were concessions to the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. Every advance, improvement in our quality of life and access to the levers of power to determine our destiny has been achieved through struggle. John Lewis advised, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Lewis’ advice is true not just for the 21st century, but also during the antebellum period, as seen in the narratives of the enslaved, such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, to testimonials about lynchings and ongoing police violence against African Americans. With the murders of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, and thousands of other Black women, men, and trans people there are new movements (i.e. #Sayhername) and organizations (i.e. Black Lives Matter) that are pushing for the justice system to investigate police involved shootings and white supremacist vigilantes. Nearly 179 years ago, the Rev. Henry Highland Garnett proposed that the only path to freedom, justice, and equality; self-determination; and/or social transformation is resistance. In thunder tones, Garnett shouted, “Let your motto be resistance! resistance! RESISTANCE!
By resisting Black people have achieved triumphs, successes, and progress as seen in the end of chattel slavery, dismantling of Jim and Jane Crow segregation in the South, increased political representation at all levels of government, desegregation of educational institutions, the passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964, the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History in DC and increased and diverse representation of Black experiences in media. Black resistance strategies have served as a model for every other social movement in the country, thus, the legacy and importance of these actions cannot be understated.
As societal and political forces escalate to limit access to and exercise of the ballot, eliminate the teaching of Black history, and work to push us back into the 1890s, we can only rely on our capacity to resist. The enactment of HR 40, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, the Breathe Act, and the closure of the racial wealth gap is not the end. They too will require us to mobilize our resources, human and material, and fight for “freedom, justice, and equality”; “self-determination”, and/or “social transformation.”
This is a call to everyone, inside and outside the academy, to study the history of Black Americans’ responses to establish safe spaces, where Black life can be sustained, fortified, and respected.
The program is projected to provide a resource to “grow its own” and to diversify the hiring pool.
The Grand Rapids Fire Department’s (GRFD) Fire Cadet Program provides a path for community youth to discover what it takes to be a firefighter. The City Commission approved the program, vetted by the Civil Service Board, for up to six part-time paid internships.
Cadets will work 16 to 20 hours a week providing general assistance to the fire department in administration, station maintenance, and special projects. Cadets will receive fire training, Medical First Responder training, and the opportunity to interact with top-notch firefighters, as well as the community.
GRFD recognized a need to provide a program that provides a direct, equitable, and accessible introduction to firefighting as a profession and public safety career. GRFD is an all-hazard response team that requires constant training to protect its community.
The program is designed as an up to one-year long curriculum with the fire department, and it is projected to provide a resource to “grow its own” and to diversify the hiring pool.
Graduation from high school or GED
18+ years of age
Possession of a valid driver’s license
More information and the application materials are available here. You can also contact the City of Grand Rapids’ Human Resources Department at (616) 456-3176.
Protect your child from the risk of lead poisoning by signing up for a home screening today at tinyurl.com/NidoEnroll.
Kent County has the second highest number of children (330 children) who tested positive for Elevated Blood Lead Levels in the State of Michigan, with 49503, 49504, and 49507 being our hardest hit zip codes. It is important to know the signs to look for lead in your home.
Lead in the home is a silent and prevalent danger in Kent County. The numbers are staggering. According to Kent County’s Lead Taskforce, this is a county-wide issue. Four out of every five homes in Grand Rapids were built before 1978, the year lead paint was banned. Homes with exposed lead-based paint – whether on an interior surface or paint that has chipped from exterior surfaces – pose possible health risks to children. We also understand the disparities with this issue, as households in the city ZIP codes of 49507, 49504, or 49503 are particularly affected.
According to the Lead Task Force, two out of every three children in Kent County with elevated blood-lead levels live in these three zip codes. The fallout of lead poising in young children is often long-term, especially if the issue is not identified early. There is no known safe blood lead concentration. Exposure to low amounts may be undetectable but a cause of irreversible neurological, developmental, and long-term health issues. As lead exposure increases, the range and seriousness of symptoms and effects also increase – children may be left with severe intellectual disability and behavioral disorders for the remainder of their lives.
Early identification and remediation are key to preventing lead exposure and ensuring all children in Kent County have the full opportunity for long-term health and success. First Steps Kent is proud of Healthy Home Coalition’s proactive efforts to identify homes with potential lead and environmental health risks and how they support families in learning how to reduce or remediate homes with such risksOur team is enthusiastic about Screen Before School because we wholeheartedly believe that every child, regardless of race or economic status, deserves to grow up in a safe and healthy home.
Every family in Kent County deserves to grow up in safe healthy homes. But too many families are living in homes where they are at risk of health hazards, due to lead poisoning, asthma triggers, or preventable accidents.
As you prepare your kids to go back to school this fall, you will want to get your home ready too. Contact the Healthy Homes team at (616) 500-0488 or sign up tinyurl.com/NidoEnroll for a free home screening.
Asthma is incurable, but it can be controlled. Get your home screened for asthma triggers to improve your indoor air quality and reduce the chances of asthma attacks in your home. Protect your family from the risks of asthma by signing up for a home screening.
Grand Rapids has an aging housing stock that remains unregulated due to structural discrimination. Healthy Homes wants to advocate for you and your family.
Healthy Homes works with families to identify potential home environmental hazards and address them through education, navigation services, and advocacy.
The announcement of partnerships with internet providers plus a $30/month subsidy for high-speed internet makes it free, or nearly free, for a large portion of Michigan families. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a U.S. government program run by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help low-income households pay for internet service and connected devices like a laptop or tablet.
You are likely eligible for the ACP if your household’s income is below 200% of the Federal Poverty Line, or if you orsomeone you live with currently receives a government benefit like SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, WIC, Pell Grant, or Free and Reduced-Price Lunch. If your household is eligible, you could receive:
Up to a $30/month discount on your internet service
Up to a $75/month discount if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands
A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50)
A low cost service plan that may be fully covered through the ACP
Today, several internet providers, including AT&T, Charter-Spectrum, Comcast-Xfinity, Frontier, WOW!, Verizon, and more, have announced high-speed internet plans for $30/month or less. If you apply your ACP benefit to one of these plans, you will have no out-of-pocket cost for your household internet.