Whitmer Announces $1 Million Investment: Lost Health Insurance

Whitmer Announces $1 Million Investment: Lost Health Insurance

Governor Gretchen Whitmer Banner - headshot with bridge graphic


October 19, 2020

Media Contact: Laura Hall, (517) 290-3779, halll17@michigan.gov 

Consumer Hotline: 877-999-6442, Michigan.gov/DIFScomplaints


Governor Whitmer Announces $1 Million Investment to Contact 1 Million Michiganders and Help Those Who May Have Lost Health Insurance in 2020 Get Covered 


LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced today that the state is investing more than $1 million and will contact more than 1 million Michiganders to help those who may have lost health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic get covered. There are a number ways for people to get no- or low-cost health insurance, and this investment will help raise awareness and increase access to those programs.


“Access to medical care is more important than ever, yet job and income losses during the COVID-19 pandemic have caused many Michiganders to lose their health insurance,” said Governor Whitmer. “Signing up for insurance can be a confusing process, but this funding will ensure people have access to local help and the resources they need to understand their options and get themselves and their families covered.”


The $1 million investment, through the U.S. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, will support community-based organizations that help people enroll in coverage, virtual health insurance educational programs, and an advertising campaign that will target communities impacted by COVID-19-related job losses. A report from the National Center for Coverage Innovation found that Michigan experienced a 46% increase in the number of uninsured adults from February to May 2020.


There are a number of ways for people to get covered, and depending on income and their situation, consumers may qualify for no- or low-cost coverage through cost sharing reductions, premium tax credits, coverage programs for children, the Healthy Michigan Plan, or Medicaid. MiBridges and the Marketplace will direct consumers to the programs they are eligible for, so there is no wrong door to begin the process to get covered. To get started:

  • Open enrollment for the Marketplace runs Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, 2020, with coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2021. Assistance is available to help people at no-cost by visiting localhelp.healthcare.gov.
  • Special enrollment periods may also be available to people who experienced a qualifying life event in 2020, including job loss or reduction in income, but who have not yet enrolled in a new plan. Also, American Indians and Alaska Natives can enroll in a Marketplace plan at any time and can change plans once a month. For more information about special enrollment periods, visit healthcare.gov/screener.
  • Depending on income and other factors, coverage is also available through Medicaid and the Healthy Michigan Plan. Those eligible can apply for coverage at any time through Michigan.gov/MIBridges or by calling the Michigan 211 COVID-19 Resource Navigation line at 844-587-2485.
  • Seniors who have lost employer-provided health insurance during the pandemic may also be able to sign up for Medicare during a special enrollment period. For more information about signing up for Medicare or eligibility for a special enrollment period seniors may visit Medicare.gov or call the Michigan Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program at 1-800-803-7174.


“Increasing the number of insured Michiganders means improved access to care, financial security, quality of care, and health outcomes, which is why we are encouraging everyone who needs coverage to contact local help or log on to Healthcare.gov starting Nov. 1,” said Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon. “There’s no wrong door to get coverage, so if you qualify for coverage through Medicaid or another program, the systems will direct you to sign up for those programs as well.”


“It’s important for consumers to know nearly 80% of Michiganders who enrolled in a Marketplace plan last year received subsidies resulting in no or reduced cost coverage,” said Department of Insurance and Financial Services Director Anita Fox. “The only mistake you can make is to wait and potentially miss the deadline for enrollment. It’s important to find out about your options early and to get yourself and your family covered.”


For assistance with private insurance, consumers should visit the Health Insurance Marketplace at www.healthcare.gov or call the Marketplace Call Center at 800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325). Consumers can also contact DIFS Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 877-999-6442 or DIFS-HICAP@michigan.gov if they need assistance.


For assistance with Healthy Michigan Plan and Medicaid, visit Michigan.gov/MIBridges or by calling the Michigan 211 COVID-19 Resource Navigation line at 844-587-2485.

DNR: News Digest – Week of Oct. 19, 2020

DNR: News Digest – Week of Oct. 19, 2020

News Digest – Week of Oct. 19, 2020

leaves header

Always check fire conditions before burning leaves or brush.

Some of the items in this week’s news digest reflect the impact of COVID-19 and how the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is adapting to meet customers’ needs. Public health and safety are our biggest priorities, and we will continue to share news and information about the safest, and sometimes new, ways to enjoy our state’s natural and cultural resources.

Follow our COVID-19 response page for FAQs and updates on facilities and reopening dates. For the latest public health guidelines and news, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

Here’s a look at some of this week’s stories from the Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at Michigan.gov/DNRPressRoom.

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below, and additional ones, are available in this folder.

Doing fall yard cleanup? Don’t forget to check for a burn permit

rakeLeaves are turning red and gold across Michigan, and for many, that means it’s time to take care of fall yard cleanup before the snow flies.

Before lighting that match to ignite leaf piles and brush, remember to check if conditions are safe for burning and know your local fire ordinances. You can also consider mulching or composting fallen leaves, which enriches the soil and does not pose a wildfire hazard. Get composting tips in this Michigan State University Extension article.

If you’re in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula, visit Michigan.gov/BurnPermit or call 866-922-BURN to find out whether burning is allowed. Southern Lower Peninsula residents can get burn permits from their local government or fire department.

“Although temperatures are getting cooler, dry weather and high winds can still carry sparks with the potential to start wildfires,” said Paul Rogers, DNR fire prevention specialist.

When burning, always have a water source nearby and never leave a fire unattended. It’s ok to burn natural materials like leaves, branches and logs, but not legal to burn plastic or other trash.

Visit Michigan.gov/BurnPermit for more information on responsible burning.

Questions? Contact Paul Rogers at 616-260-8406.

Elevate your bird-watching with some community science

birderOne of the best ways to enjoy Michigan’s fall colors and fresh air is to take in the many majestic migratory birds that dot our skies and landscapes this time each year. Better yet, birders of all experience levels can lend bird research a hand by sharing observations of what they see and when and where they see it.

Michigan’s fall migration includes waterfowl, shorebirds, waterbirds, songbirds and raptors that head south to their wintering grounds. Such bird patterns, often complex and misunderstood, are key to helping identify conservation priorities that best support these winged wanderers.

Why does that matter to you? Well, researchers need help. You can help advance Audubon’s Migratory Bird Initiative by visiting public lands and reporting bird sightings on eBird – an online database of bird observations providing scientists, researchers and amateur naturalists with real-time data about bird distribution and abundance. Plus, eBird makes it easy to keep track of your own bird observations, photos and audio files.

The DNR owns and manages half of Michigan’s 103 Important Bird Areas (sites of international significance for the conservation of the world’s birds), and it’s no surprise these make for excellent birding destinations. Many are in DNR-managed state wildlife and game areas. Before you go, though, become familiar with hunting season start dates at these locations; check the Michigan Hunting Digest or call your local DNR office. Birders are advised to wear brightly colored clothing, as fall hunting seasons are getting underway, and remember that a Recreation Passport is needed for vehicle entry at state parks and recreation areas.

See the full list of Michigan IBAs at Audubon.org. Other resources include a list of Michigan’s birding trails and sanctuaries, plus the MI Birds blog with tips on making the most of your fall birding experience.

For more birding inspiration, explore MI Birds, your one-stop shop for all things birds in Michigan. Follow along on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Celebrate 2-by-4s and much more during National Forest Products Week

mass timber buildingDo you feel a yawn coming on when someone says: “forest products industry?”

Stifle it! Then look around your home or workspace and celebrate National Forest Products week with the rest of us. Forest products make up a lot of what we see around us, including the lumber most houses are made of, the office paper that spits out of your printer and, yes, even the toilet paper that was in such short supply during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Michigan’s forest products industry contributes $21.2 billion and supports more than 99,000 jobs in Michigan’s economy,” said Jeff Stampfly, acting chief of the DNR Forest Resources Division.

More than 300 active mills in Michigan produce lumber, high-end veneer, posts and poles, particleboard, plywood, oriented strand board, paper, wood pulp and industrial fuelwood. National Forest Products Week, Oct. 18-24 this year, was established by Congress to recognize the value of forest products and commit to conservation practices that help responsibly manage U.S. forests.

Although people have been using wood for thousands of years, wood technology is still emerging. The DNR co-sponsored a recent summit on mass timber construction, which uses engineered wood columns, beams and panels to build large or tall structures. The DNR will use that construction method to replace its current offices in Newberry. The state-of-the-art, $5 million mass timber building will include a public meeting room.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to share the possibilities of this building technique in Michigan,” Stampfly said.

There’s much to learn about Michigan’s forest products industry, like certifications that ensure Michigan’s 4 million acres of state forest are managed to be sustainable. It’s an important part of our state’s economy and helps create more products than you might think.

Questions? Contact David Neumann at 517-490-7640.


Looking to go on a road trip to some of Michigan’s historical sites? Find your favorite markers and plan your route with the historical marker map!


NotMISpecies, a new, monthly webinar series exploring Michigan’s Invasive Species Program, kicks off 9 a.m. Oct. 22. Register for free at Michigan.gov/EGLEEvents.



No matter who you’re voting for, make sure to plan ahead! Today is the last day to register to vote online and request an absent voter ballot at Michigan.gov/Vote.

DNR COVID-19 RESPONSE: For details on affected DNR facilities and services, visit this webpage. Follow state actions and guidelines at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.
Employers Encouraged To Apply For $27 Million In Training Grants

Employers Encouraged To Apply For $27 Million In Training Grants

Oakland County Employers Encouraged To Apply For $27 Million In Training Grants As State’s Going PRO Talent Fund Reinstated

Pontiac, Michigan – Oakland County employers who need talent can apply for a share of $27 million allocated statewide for approved training programs in 2021 under Michigan’s Going PRO Talent Fund.

The fund, which was reinstated by the state, provides grants for employers to hire and train workers to earn industry-recognized credentials in advanced manufacturing, software development, construction trades and robotic operations. It also allows current workers to expand their skills and creates registered apprenticeships for new employees. Since 2013, county employers have received more than $7.5 million of Going PRO Talent Fund grants.

“The Going PRO Talent Fund has provided millions of dollars in training funds to hundreds of eligible businesses across Oakland County who need to find and train talented workers,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “We applaud Governor Whitmer and state legislators for restoring the program. This funding comes at a critical time for our residents and businesses, given the impact COVID-19 continues to have in our business community and in our lives.”

The application period for grants begins November 2 and ends November 30 at 5 p.m.

Oakland County Michigan Works! is hosting five free virtual information sessions on the Going PRO Talent Fund. The online meetings provide important details about the program, eligibility criteria and the application process. Advance registration is required at www.OakGov.com/GoingPro. The sessions are:

  • Monday, October 19, from 2:30-4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, October 20, from 9-10:30 a.m.
  • Thursday, October 22, from 9-10:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday, October 27, from 9-10:30 a.m.
  • Thursday, October 29, from 2:30-4 p.m.

Minth North America received a Going PRO Talent Fund grant in 2019. Human Resources Director Christen Powers said it was invested in the development and professional growth of 33 team members.

“Ongoing development of employees is an essential part of any retention and growth strategy,” Powers said. “It allows employees to follow a professional development plan that prepares them for the next stage of their careers, whether it’s as a successor to someone, becoming a cross-functionally trained employee or a technical expert.”

Jennifer Llewellyn, director of Oakland County Michigan Works!, said staff at the county’s six service centers can confirm a company’s eligibility and assist it in completing an application. To qualify, the training must be short-term and lead to a credentialed, industry-recognized skill enhancement.

“Our team has been very successful in partnering with employers of all sizes to design training models customized to their changing needs,” Llewellyn said. “We strongly encourage an employer to contact their local Michigan Works! office soon to ensure the application is completed in time for review by the state.”

Oakland County Michigan Works! operates service centers in Novi, Oak Park, Pontiac, Southfield, Troy and Waterford. Combined, they assist more than 105,000 job seekers annually. Services include career coaching, interviewing and job search workshops, placement assistance, training courses and job trend information.

Service centers also assist more than 3,000 employers seeking assistance with talent recruitment, apprenticeship programs, job fairs, candidate pre-screening, hiring and training support, layoff support and labor market data.

Service center staffs remain available by virtual appointment to work one-on-one with job seekers to build their resumes, prepare for job interviews and help address other needs. To schedule a virtual meeting, call 1-248-858-5520 and select the office nearest to you. Service centers are hosting several virtual workshops for job seekers. A schedule can be found at www.OaklandCountyMIWorks.com.

$3.6 million in grants to target invasive species

$3.6 million in grants to target invasive species

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Oct. 19, 2020

Contact: Joanne Foreman, 517-284-5814 or Erin Campbell, 269-300-9698

$3.6 million in grants available to target invasive species in Michigan

Proposals accepted through Dec. 11

Michigan’s Invasive Species Grant Program is now accepting proposals for the 2020 funding cycle, with an anticipated $3.6 million available to applicants.

The program – a joint effort of the Michigan departments of Natural Resources; Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; and Agriculture and Rural Development – is part of a statewide initiative launched in 2014 to help prevent, detect and control invasive species in Michigan.

“Our state’s natural resources, both land and water, are threatened by invasive species that harm our environment, economy and even human health,” said Gary McDowell, director, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “The Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program is a critical tool in addressing these threats – both on the local level with Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas and on a statewide scale by supporting advances in prevention and control.”

Program handbook, webinar

2020 MISGP Handbook CoverThe 2020 grant program handbook outlines priorities and application guidelines. Applicants also can take advantage of a two-part webinar Thursday, Nov.5:

  • Part 1 starts at 9 a.m. and will focus on general grant information, 2020 priorities and the application process.
  • Part 2 follows at 10 a.m. and will explain the Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area application process and funding for 2020.

Both the handbook and webinar registration information are available at Michigan.gov/MISGP. A recorded version of the webinar will be available at this website after Nov. 10.

2020 priorities

A patch of Japanese stiltgrassThis year the program is seeking projects to detect and control high-risk invasive species, including Japanese stiltgrass and hemlock woolly adelgid, and to initiate surveys in high-quality environments like Great Lakes islands.

Emphasis is placed on developing strategies to increase public adoption of decontamination practices that prevent the spread of invasive species. Projects improving preparedness for species that may arrive in Michigan and those which expand identification and management training opportunities are also sought.

Priority is given to supporting Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas across the state to implement strategic plans for outreach, detection and control of regional priority species.

Projects providing new tools or improve techniques for detecting and managing established species, including European frog-bit, starry stonewort and invasive knotweed species, are also are requested.

Program progress

Japanese knotweed branch with leavesThe Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program supports projects throughout the state that prevent, detect, manage and eradicate invasive species on the ground and in the water. Total program funding is set by the Legislature and the governor during the annual budget cycle.

Since its inception, the program has awarded over $21 million to 144 projects, resulting in management of invasive species including hemlock woolly adelgid, phragmites and Japanese knotweed on more than 48,000 acres of land and water statewide.

Highlights of the 2019 invasive species program are available in the Michigan Invasive Species Program Annual Report, which includes program-funded projects.

Regional Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas are operating in all of Michigan’s 83 counties, assisting the public in identifying and managing invasive species. Contact information for individual CISMAs can be found at Michigan.gov/Invasives in the Local Resources section.

Important program dates and information

Local, state, federal and tribal units of government, nonprofit organizations and universities may apply for funding to support invasive species projects in Michigan. Full project proposals are due Dec. 11. Award announcement is anticipated in March 2021.

Grant requests for general projects can range from a minimum of $25,000 to a maximum of $400,000. CISMAs can request up to $60,000 for annual implementation of prevention, detection and control activities and up to $40,000 for specific survey and treatment projects. Applicants must commit to provide a minimum of 10 percent (in the form of a local match) of the total project cost.

Competitive applications will outline clear objectives, propose significant ecological benefits, demonstrate diverse collaboration and show strong community support.

Michigan’s Invasive Species Program is cooperatively implemented by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

/Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Suggested captions follow:

Stiltgrass: A patch of invasive Japanese stiltgrass in Niles, Michigan.

Knotweed: Japanese knotweed has been found in yards and along roadways and stream banks across Michigan.

Frog-bit: European frog-bit recently has been found in inland water bodies in western and mid-Michigan./