New Agency to Improve Services for Older Michiganders

New Agency to Improve Services for Older Michiganders

Header 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 14, 2021

Contact: press@michigan.gov

 

Gov. Whitmer Organizes New Agency to Improve Services for Older Michiganders 

The governor’s executive order promotes collaboration and delivers services more efficiently as state works to empower seniors with the choice to age in their own home 

 

LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer today signed EO 2021-14 to establish the Health and Aging Services Administration within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). The newly-established agency will provide more coordinated services to Michigan’s growing aging population by combining the former MDHHS Aging and Adult Services Agency and Medical Services Administration under one umbrella within MDHHS. Michigan’s Medicaid Office is also part of the new Health and Aging Services Administration.

 

“Older Michiganders deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and by dedicating resources at the state level, we can ensure they have the resources they need to have a secure retirement, access to high-quality healthcare, attainable, affordable housing, and more,” said Governor Whitmer. “The Michigan Department of Health and Human Service’s new Health and Aging Services Administration will stay laser-focused on helping aging adults thrive, coordinate effectively across agencies and departments to enact lasting change, and get things done that make a real difference in people’s lives.”

 

The new Health and Aging Services Administration will retain current staff positions, provides for greater collaboration and makes the delivery of MDHHS programs and services to aging adults simpler and more efficient.

 

“Long-term care policy will now come from one coordinated area of MDHHS,” said Kate Massey, who has been chosen to be senior deputy director of the new administration and previously served in that same role with Medical Services Administration. “We expect these changes to allow smoother transitions across the continuum of care – including for older adults who prefer to age in place. Services to our aging population are a critically important part of MDHHS’s work.”

 

Michigan has more than 2 million adults over age 60, nearly 25% of the state’s population. Michiganders 85 and older remains the fastest-growing age group and 37% of Michigan residents are 50 and older.

 

The change allows for increased coordination between aging services teams in local communities and in-house employees who are responsible for developing policies, as well as improved analysis of processes and results, and expanded capacity across programs and services.

 

“These changes to our structure will lead to a better plan for aging Michiganders, and they are founded on suggestions from those we serve,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “Although not a redesign of services, this change is important because it will improve upon the delivery of those services and ensure alignment with our values. Our customers who benefit from our adult and aging programs will appreciate a stronger connection with our Medicaid services.”

 

Long-term support services have been delivered through multiple areas of MDHHS, making coordination challenging. The change will address those challenges by:

 

  • Providing additional capacity to serve the intentions of older adults who prefer to age in place – defined by the CDC as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably.”
  • Increasing speed in the delivery of services.
  • Aligning with long-term care support and services to community-based services through the federal Older Americans Act; the MI Choice Waiver Program that allows eligible aging adults to receive Medicaid-covered services like those provided by nursing homes but can stay in their own home or another residential setting; and the Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) that provides Medicaid and Medicare funding for frail, elderly people who meet the criteria for long-term care.
  • Making the Bureau of Medicaid Long-Term Care Services and Support responsible for programs associated with the Older Michiganians Act overseen by the administrator of the new administration.
  • Transferring the Michigan Commission on Services to the Aging and Adult Community Placement program from the former Aging and Adult Services Agency to MDHHS itself.

 

“Better aligning aging and Medicaid services is a great move forward for Michigan’s seniors, those living with disabilities, and their families,” said Marianne Udow-Phillips, a senior advisor for the University of Michigan’s Center for Health Research and Transformation (CHRT). “This new structure will help achieve MDHHS’s long-standing goal of providing a continuum of care and integration of services. Bringing the resources, vision and leadership of these two organizations together will greatly enhance the work we are doing with MDHHS on their vision and strategy for long-term care.”

 

Coordination under the new administration allows Michigan to more easily:

 

  • Develop a comprehensive strategy to improve the health and well-being of Michigan’s aging population, aligning with MDHHS goals to make Michigan an age friendly state.
  • Work to advance strategic goals and objectives quickly and efficiently.
  • Leverage federal, state and private dollars to design interventions and supports that maximize impact.
  • Streamline program requirements and develop complementary policies that ease burdens on providers, community organizations and other stakeholders.

 

“We are pleased that Governor Whitmer and MDHHS are further elevating the needs of older adults in Michigan and providing them with more robust services,” said Paula D. Cunningham, state director of AARP Michigan. “These improvements are especially important as Michigan’s aging population continues to grow and as many older adults want to continue to live in their homes and communities as they age.”

 

For more information, visit the website for the Health and Aging Services Administration.

 

To view the full executive order, click the link below:

 

Improvements to Bridge Card to cause temporary shutdown

Improvements to Bridge Card to cause temporary shutdown

MDHHS banner with logo no names

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 14, 2021

CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112, wheatonb@michigan.gov

Improvements to Michigan’s Bridge Card system to cause temporary shutdown of system
late Saturday, early Sunday

LANSING, Mich. – Michiganders who use Bridge Cards to buy food or use cash assistance benefits will be unable to do so late Saturday and early Sunday while a system upgrade is implemented that will provide easier access to benefits.

The Bridge Card system will be down from approximately 11 p.m., Saturday to 11 a.m., Sunday. Residents who receive food assistance, cash assistance and Women, Infant and Children (WIC) benefits loaded on the Electronic Benefit Transfer cards will not be able to redeem them during those hours. They can use the same cards beginning again at 11 a.m., Sunday without any effect on their benefits. Benefit balance information for all programs will be available at 11 a.m. and the transactional history will be available by 3 p.m.

“These system changes will improve access to food and cash assistance because clients now will be able to use a mobile app that was not previously available,” said Lew Roubal, MDHHS senior deputy director for opportunity. “We apologize for any inconvenience and chose a timeframe with low Bridge Card activity to make this transition.”

System upgrades involve a switch to Fidelity Information Systems (FIS), a Florida-based technology services company, which will be the new Electronic Benefit Transfer provider for MDHHS. The system needs to be shut down during the transition from the previous vendor. This is the next step from a previous attempt to switch systems in August, when technical issues created delays. MDHHS expects a smooth transition this coming weekend.

Bridge Card holders will continue to use the www.michigan.gov/MIBridges  website and call the toll-free number on the back of their card.

Clients who are interested in viewing their account status and transaction data online will be required to create a profile on the Food and Nutrition Service cardholder site. Food and cash assistance clients can access the new ebtEDGE mobile app for use on Android devices in the Google store or IOS devices in the Apple store. WIC clients already have had access to a mobile app.

Flags Lowered for Identified MIA Korean War Soldier

Flags Lowered for Identified MIA Korean War Soldier

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

October 13, 2021

Contact: press@michigan.gov

 

Governor Whitmer Lowers Flags for Identified MIA Korean War Soldier

 

LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered U.S. and Michigan flags to be lowered to half-staff throughout the state of Michigan on Thursday, October 14 to honor the life and service of Army Sgt. William E. Cavender. The flag honors will coincide with his funeral.

 

“Sergeant Cavender served our country with honor and dignity,” said Governor Whitmer. “After so many years of uncertainty, the return of Sergeant Cavender’s remains will help to provide some closure to his family. I have lowered the flags to honor his life and serve as our state’s appreciation to finally have him home.”

 

Sgt. Cavender served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War as a member of Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.

 

He was reported missing in action after his unit was attacked near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea on November 28, 1950. Following the battle, his remains could not be recovered. Sgt. William E. Cavender’s remains were identified in May 2020.

 

Sgt. William E. Cavender will be buried at Great Lakes National Cemetery on Thursday, October 14.

 

The State of Michigan recognizes the duty, honor and selfless service of Sergeant William E. Cavender by lowering flags to half-staff. Michigan residents, businesses, schools, local governments and other organizations also are encouraged to display the flag at half-staff.

 

To lower flags to half-staff, flags should be hoisted first to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The process is reversed before the flag is lowered for the day.

 

Flags should be returned to full-staff on Friday, October 15.

Additional October emergency food assistance benefits

Additional October emergency food assistance benefits

MDHHS banner with logo no names

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 13, 2021

CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112, wheatonb@michigan.gov

Additional October emergency food assistance benefits related to pandemic to be issued

LANSING, Mich. – All Michigan families who are eligible for food assistance benefits are receiving an additional monthly payment in October in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced today.

More than 1.25 million Michiganders in close to 700,000 households will receive additional food assistance benefits.

Eligible clients will see additional food assistance benefits on their Bridge Card from Oct. 23 through Nov. 1. These benefits will be loaded onto Bridge Cards as a separate payment from the assistance that is provided earlier in the month.

“Helping families address food insecurity during the pandemic is one of MDHHS’s top priorities,” said Lewis Roubal, senior deputy director for opportunity. “With help from our federal partners, we are helping families put more nutritious food on the table.”

Some Michiganders began receiving additional food assistance in April 2020 after the beginning of the pandemic that started the month before. In May 2021, all eligible households began getting extra monthly benefits. Federal approval is necessary every month.

All households eligible for SNAP receive an increase of at least $95 monthly, even if they are already receiving the maximum payment or are close to that amount. Households that received over $95 to bring them to the maximum payment for their group size will continue to receive that larger amount.

Below are the maximum allowable benefits for SNAP customers based on their respective household size: 

  • One Person: $250
  • Two Persons: $459
  • Three Persons: $658
  • Four Persons: $835
  • Five Persons: $992
  • Six Persons: $1,190
  • Seven Persons: $1,316
  • Eight Persons: $1,504

The federal government is providing additional funding to states for food assistance under House Resolution 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Eligible families do not need to re-apply to receive the additional benefits. People who receive food assistance can check their benefits balance on their Michigan Bridge Card by going online to www.michigan.gov/MIBridges or calling a consumer service representative toll-free at 888-678-8914. They can ask questions about the additional benefits by calling or emailing their caseworker.

Customer service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Spanish and Arabic service is available. If you are deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing or speech-impaired, call the Michigan Relay Center at 7-1-1.

Information around the COVID-19 outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.  

Governor Whitmer on Reopening Canadian Border  

Governor Whitmer on Reopening Canadian Border  

Header 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 13, 2021

Contact: Press@Michigan.gov

 

Governor Whitmer on Reopening Canadian Border 

 

LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer today issued the following statement on the Michigan-Canada border reopening for vaccinated travelers beginning next month.

 

“The relationship between Michigan and Canada is one built on trade, travel, and friendship. I am grateful to the government of Canada and our federal partners for coming together to reopen the Michigan-Canada border. I look forward to welcoming our neighbors as they cross the Ambassador Bridge or Detroit-Windsor Tunnel into Detroit, the Blue Water Bridge into Port Huron, or the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge into Sault Ste. Marie.

 

“By reopening the border, we can build on Michigan’s economic momentum. We had the third-highest GDP growth in the second quarter of 2021 and have a $3.5 billion surplus to invest in our families, communities, and small businesses. I look forward to collaborating with our Canadian friends to emerge from the pandemic and usher in a new era of economic prosperity.”