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. 


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.

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

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.

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

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’

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.