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. 


Michigan judge suspends Gov. Whitmer’s ban on flavored e-cigarettes

October 15, 2019 | Robin Erb

In granting a preliminary injunction, the judge said the state undermined its own argument that the move was a public health “emergency.”

Michigan surgeons offered more money to limit opioids for pain

October 15, 2019 | Robin Erb

Blue Cross offers 35 percent boost in insurance reimbursement when doctors rein in opioid prescriptions after common surgeries. The effort shows some promise in a state hammered by opioid deaths.

Pelvic exams in surgery? Not without woman’s consent, Michigan lawmaker vows

October 15, 2019 | Robin Erb

Some women have been subjected to unexpected exams by medical students and residents in the name of education. Men, meanwhile, have been given rectal exams during prostate surgery.

In Nassar’s wake, MSU combines oversight of its health colleges

October 11, 2019 | Robin Erb

Still reeling from damage by serial sexual abuser and former university doctor, Michigan State University said the changes are intended to help rebuild trust and accountability.

Caro’s psychiatric hospital is saved. Michigan’s mental health crisis persists.

October 9, 2019 | Jonathan Oosting

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spared a psychiatric hospital whose closure would have devastated the Thumb. But long waiting lists persist statewide, and the hospital’s problems remain.

In the spring, Gov. Whitmer praised an opioid clinic. In the fall, a veto.

October 8, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s vetoes in the Michigan budget included funds for Andy’s Place, an opioid recovery project near Jackson that she endorsed months ago. The planned facility is in the district of Republican budget and political foe Mike Shirkey.

Bad weather, resident concerns hamper Michigan’s efforts to spray for EEE virus

October 3, 2019 | Robin Erb

As Michigan reports its fourth death from Eastern equine encephalitis, pilots charged with spraying pesticides are grounded by weather, and state officials field calls from concerned citizens.

Michigan counselors fighting ban on right to diagnose, give psychotherapy

October 3, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Licensed counselors fear that new regulations could put them out of business. Psychologists have long argued that counselors need more training to perform more serious mental health work. A hearing takes place Friday.

Michigan’s ban on flavored vaping products with nicotine now in full force

October 1, 2019 | Robin Erb

Court ruling thrusts into doubt the future of Michigan's e-cigarette industry and millions in taxes. Sales of products are punishable for jail time, fines.

Seeking a cure: The quest to save the Midwest’s rural hospitals

September 30, 2019 | Jennifer Hemmingsen

Small rural hospitals are getting squeezed by competition and market forces, forcing painful consolidations, sales and closures.  Nationwide, 113 rural hospitals have closed in less than a decade.

In Ironwood, a tiny hospital merged to save itself. Despite fears, it thrived.

September 29, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

For Aspirus Ironwood Hospital, in a sparsely populated former mining region in remote Michigan, merger points to a brighter future.

Rural hospitals in Michigan face a dilemma: Merge or not?

September 29, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Rising fiscal challenges force independent Michigan hospitals to seek alliances. They can save the hospitals, but some critics ask at what cost.

Michigan to spray 14 counties to combat deadly EEE mosquito virus

September 27, 2019 | Robin Erb

At a cost of $1.5 million or more, low-flying aircraft will spray 2.5 miles around each confirmed EEE case across southwest Michigan and beyond.

Budget fight looms over changes in Medicaid mental health in Michigan

September 26, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Mental health advocates want Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to veto a plan they say threatens care for 300,000 Medicaid patients. Supporters say the plan safely integrates mental and physical health care for low-income patients.

Michigan Republicans end funding to implement Medicaid work rules they created

September 24, 2019 | Robin Erb

Republicans strip $10 million allotted to roll out work rules and avoid chaos that has plagued other states. They say it’s a compromise. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says “these budgets are a mess.”

Deadly EEE virus in Michigan forces daylight football starts, cancellations

September 20, 2019 | Robin Erb

Friday night football has moved to daylight for at least two schools in Kalamazoo County, the epicenter of the outbreak of Eastern equine encephalitis. Eight people in Michigan have been infected.

It's official: Flavored e-cigarettes are now illegal in Michigan

September 18, 2019 | Robin Erb

Emergency rules aimed at protecting youth make distribution and sale of flavored vaping products punishable by six months behind bars.. Retailers have 14 days to remove the products from their shelves.

Critics rip Michigan vaping ban, citing harm to smokers and vape shops

September 12, 2019 | Robin Erb

A legislative hearing in Lansing on Thursday gave lawmakers and shop owners an opportunity to explain the unintended consequences of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s planned ban on flavored vape products.

How Right to Life has dominated Michigan abortion politics since Roe v. Wade

September 12, 2019 | Robin Erb, Cheyna Roth, Craig Mauger

In a state that favors abortion rights, the group uses a network of ardent volunteers and the “golden ticket” of its candidate endorsements to restrict abortion access. It hopes to make more gains in 2020.

Michigan Medicaid rules change soon. Can cool envelopes help avoid confusion?

September 9, 2019 | Robin Erb

New work rules go into effect in January for Healthy Michigan beneficiaries. Gleaning lessons from a debacle in Arkansas over similar changes, Michigan is stepping up efforts to communicate the changes.