Michigan Health Watch

In-depth reporting on the intersection between public policy and important health topics ‒ such as insurance coverage, hospital admissions, opioid abuse, access to care, medical research and the business of health care ‒ that impact nearly every Michigan resident. 


Planned Parenthood says 42,000 in Michigan at risk from abortion ‘gag rule’

August 19, 2019 | Robin Erb

The group said it would withdraw from a federal funding program for low-income patients, citing a rule banning clinics from making abortion referrals to other doctors. Anti-abortion group calls the decision ideological.

Michigan doctors reach out to LGBTQ community to narrow health disparities

August 6, 2019 | Robin Erb

Simple steps like changing pronouns on intake forms can make a big difference, while other clinics are increasing outreach and services to the LGBTQ community.

In quiet decision, Michigan continues Medicaid coverage of gender changes

August 6, 2019 | Robin Erb

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration OKs coverage of hormone replacement, breast removal and other procedures. Critics say taxpayers shouldn’t fund such care.

New plans for Michigan psychiatric facility raise more concerns about care

August 5, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Mental health advocates say a decision to keep a Caro psychiatric hospital open doesn't improve Michigan's mental health system.

Study: Untreated mental illness, substance abuse ‘staggering’ in Michigan

July 30, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

The analysis highlights over 1.1 million instances of undiagnosed anxiety, depression and substance abuse in Michigan and a critical shortage of mental-health workers and treatment facilities, particularly in rural northern Michigan.

Alzheimer’s in Michigan: The coming storm

July 29, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Initiatives to address the looming Alzheimer’s crisis can make a difference, particularly in a state like Michigan, which has an aging population and a dearth of physicians and health workers specializing in senior care.  Experts say aging baby boomers will put rising stress on the health care system and more than a half-million caregivers. One expert warns: “Michigan is not ready for this.”

How Michigan can prepare for the coming Alzheimer’s crisis

July 29, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Initiatives to address the looming Alzheimer’s crisis can make a difference, particularly in a state like Michigan, which has an aging population and a dearth of physicians and health workers specializing in senior care

U-M study finds surprising abusers of opioids: new mothers. The fix is easy.

July 26, 2019 | Robin Erb

A University of Michigan study of national data finds that 1 in 100 new moms or more kept refilling prescriptions long after babies arrived.

After three student suicides, one Michigan school district fights back

July 23, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Following a year of unrelenting grief in rural Cedar Springs, the district resolved to find ways to identify stress before students fall into crisis. There are signs the effort is beginning to make a difference.

A Michigan mother finds solace in schools’ response after son’s suicide

July 23, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

“This could happen to any family,” the west Michigan mom said, nearly four years after her son took his life just before his senior year of high school.

Rural Michigan needs doctors. Paying their debts may be an answer

July 22, 2019 | Robin Erb

Lawmakers eye expansion of program that pays student debt of medical professionals who practice in underserved areas, as the Michigan doctor shortage intensifies.

Michigan doctors not trained to treat opioid abuse ‒ and don't want to be

July 12, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

A statewide survey found most primary care physicians don’t want training to administer the “gold standard” treatment of opioid abuse, even as overdose deaths tripled in Michigan.

A woman, a tick, and the fight in Michigan over Lyme disease

July 1, 2019 | Magdalena Mihaylova, Robin Erb

Exhaustion, depression and pain are made worse when doctors don’t listen, patients say. Lansing bills aim to help, but the campaign faces skepticism from the medical establishment and one surprising group.

Lyme disease is spreading across Michigan. But why?

July 1, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

Officials are increasingly finding disease-carrying ticks in new places across the state. Experts aren’t exactly sure why, but they have some ideas.

State ends ties to West Michigan mental-health agency for poor and disabled

July 1, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Michigan is ending its contract with Lakeshore Regional Entity, which coordinates behavioral health care for 30,000 Medicaid patients, citing “fiscal mismanagement” and debt. Agency blames a widespread lack of funding.

Delays, confusion as Michigan preps for new Medicaid work rules

June 27, 2019 | Robin Erb, Lindsay VanHulle

Thousands of Michiganders could lose health coverage after Jan. 1 if they can’t prove work efforts. State says it will have a call center open on Day 1, but advocates worry some people will be left behind.

Oversight board flags ‘deterioration of care’ at Detroit Medical Center

June 17, 2019 | Robin Erb

Nearly 10 years after Detroit hospital system is sold to for-profit company, a volunteer group of overseers is raising concerns about its patient care and transparency.

How toxic is PFAS? Exposed residents slow to aid research in Michigan

June 14, 2019 | Robin Erb

In Kent County, the state hopes blood tests of PFAS contaminated households could inform health decisions. But only half of eligible residents seem willing, casting into doubt Michigan’s role in a larger, federal study.

Amid PFAS nightmare, unlikely activists are born in Michigan

June 14, 2019 | Robin Erb

Once strangers who sought privacy and quiet, PFAS has forced unexpected alliances in northern Kent County. This week, one group took their stories to Boston, fueled by a love of community.

Suicide, depression on rise in rural Michigan, but psychiatrists are scarce

June 12, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Doctors in the Upper Peninsula and other rural regions report long waits for psychiatric care; child specialists are even harder to find. Can student loan forgiveness for medical residents and telemedicine reduce the gap?