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. 

Articles

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

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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.

Vaping may be bad for teens. But will Michigan’s ban hurt smokers trying to quit?

Vaping may be bad for teens. But will Michigan’s ban hurt smokers trying to quit?

September 4, 2019 | Robin Erb

Some worry an all-out ban on flavored e-cigarettes will take them away from adults who use them -‒ effectively, according to some studies -‒ to kick smoking.

What you need to know about Michigan’s flavored e-cigarette ban

What you need to know about Michigan’s flavored e-cigarette ban

September 4, 2019 | Riley Beggin, Joel Kurth

Amid a surge in teen vaping, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer orders a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Here’s a look at the legal, political and health implications of the nation’s first ban.

HPV cancer rates are up. Yet many Michigan doctors won’t talk about it.

HPV cancer rates are up. Yet many Michigan doctors won’t talk about it.

September 4, 2019 | Robin Erb

The conversation can be awkward, but it also can save lives and prevent human papillomavirus. Some doctors and dentists avoid discussing vaccinations because the virus is sexually transmitted.

Suicide rates rise across Michigan, with few answers

Suicide rates rise across Michigan, with few answers

September 4, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

A proposed state commission on suicide would seek solutions to the spiking suicide rates, particularly among young people, military veterans and i rural counties. Meanwhile, a bill to help students remains stalled.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.”

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