Michigan Healthcare

Credit Alex E Promios/Flickr

From debate over childhood vaccinations to the changing business of hospital finance, IPR has the stories of hospitals and public health that affect northern Michigan.

"Minding Michigan" is Stateside's ongoing series that examines mental health issues in our state. 

How well does Michigan do in helping people who are suffering from mental health problems?

When it comes to the mental health care safety net, the answer is troubling. It seems that Michiganders who have private insurance are the ones whose safety net is weakest. 

Eleanor Bennett

Mara Fae Penfil is fascinated with fungi. Last month, she quit her job in Traverse City and is traveling the country teaching people about mushrooms—but not just any mushrooms. Penfil is intrigued by the obscure, medicinal varieties. She’s been selling medicinal mushrooms through her website, Female and Fungi. She says many people pass them off as bark or dirt, but they're everywhere—and not by accident. 

 

There's now a new backdrop for Mental Health Awareness Month: the debate over whether to privatize Michigan's $2.4 billion mental health system. 

 

Governor Snyder's 2017 budget calls for turning over state funding and management to Medicaid HMOs. 
 
The Michigan Association of Health Plans has been lobbying for the switch. Meanwhile, the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards is digging in to fight it.
 
Robert Sheehan, CEO of the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards, joined us on Stateside to discuss the issue.

The annual Kids Count Report has a gloomy view of the well-being of the state's children.

Kids Count in Michigan is part of a broad national effort to measure the well-being of children at the state and local levels and use that information to shape efforts to improve the lives of children.

The report for 2016 reflects data from 2014.

It says the state's efforts to keep children safe, healthy, and educated are falling short.  From the introduction:

Gov. Rick Snyder’s new budget contains over $100 million for Healthy Michigan.

That’s a reminder that it’s time for the state of Michigan to pony up some of the Medicaid expansion program’s operation cost. That Healthy Michigan program means health insurance for some 600,000 lower-income Michiganders.

Grand Traverse County Easling Pool

The cost of paying benefits to retired government workers is skyrocketing and taxpayers in northern Michigan are footing the bill. The burden is forcing cities, townships and counties to get creative in how they deal with it.

 

In the village of Kalkaska, four former employees are suing over the village's decision to stop paying for their health care.

 

Munson Healthcare

New federal rules are changing the game for hospitals. Instead of just treating sick people who walk in the door, hospitals are now expected to help solve public health problems.

 

But while the federal government encourages this big-picture thinking, there’s not really much accountability. At least not yet.

 

 

Hospital consultant Ed Gamache says the health care industry is in the middle of a philosophical shift. Local non-profit hospitals are now expected to take the lead on issues of public health.

The Flint water crisis has taken a new turn, with Governor Snyder's announcement that there's been an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Flint.

Genesee County had 87 cases of Legionnaires', with ten deaths between June 2014 and November 2015. Prior years only saw between six and 10 cases.

The outbreak started soon after the city switched to water from the Flint River, and ended after it went back to Detroit water.

Michigan has a growing problem with what's called "uncoordinated prescription opioid use," and it's putting hundreds of patients at risk.

“In Michigan we went from 81 deaths in 1999 to 519 deaths in 2013 from opioids,” said Marianne Udow-Phillips from the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation.

A new report from CHRT finds that most opioids are used and prescribed appropriately, but a small number of patients receive numerous prescriptions from separate prescribers within a short period of time.

This week marks the 45th anniversary of Dr. Alice Hamilton’s death.

Hamilton was a leading expert in the field of occupational health and a pioneer in toxicology. She lived to the age of 101.

Bubonic plague has found its way to Michigan.

The so-called “Black Death” killed anywhere from 75 million up to 200 million people in Europe and the Middle East throughout the 14th century.

We’re talking between 30% and 60% of Europe’s total population. People who seemed healthy when they went to bed at night could be dead by morning.

That’s why news of Michigan’s first documented case of bubonic plague caught many by surprise.

Telemedicine is the practice of treating patients remotely through telecommunication and information technology.

It’s on the rise in Michigan, especially in rural areas where they don’t have enough doctors, physician assistants, or nurses.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that between 25,000-30,000 new oil and gas wells were drilled and hydraulically fractured annually in the U.S. between 2011 and 2014.

A feature article in the journal Health Affairs says the body of research on the potential health effects of all this fracking is "slim and inconclusive."

Cost trumps doctor choice in Michigan insurance market

May 20, 2015
Emily Orpin/Flickr

In Michigan, people shopping for health insurance are likely to pick cost savings over the chance to keep their current doctor, according to new research from the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation.

Center Executive Director Marianne Udow-Phillips says comparison shopping has gotten easier for people with the healthcare exchange.

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hand down a ruling that may decide whether thousands of Michiganders can afford health insurance.

The court could strike down insurance subsidies offered under the federal health care law. That’s in states like Michigan where the federal government runs the health care exchange.

The ruling is expected this summer. But some state lawmakers are already debating whether to set up a state-run health exchange.

It’s easy to take for granted the leaps and bounds medical science has made in the last two centuries.

Rene Laennec invented the stethoscope in 1816. 1818 saw the first successful blood transfusion performed by James Blundell. In 1842 Crawford Long performed the first surgical operation using anesthesia.

A pair of nonprofits say not enough people have taken advantage of their offer to help pay health insurance premiums.

“We’ve been able to find, I think, about a dozen people who we’re helping,” says Bruce Miller, the executive director of two nonprofits who together serve 18 northern Michigan counties.

Miller says the coverage is for people who have employer-sponsored healthcare, but who can’t afford to add their families to the plan. They also don’t qualify for subsidized plans under Obamacare. He calls it the “family glitch.”

Veterans in northern Michigan rarely face long wait times for health care. That’s according to a new report that compares wait times at veterans’ health facilities across the country.

Nationally, nearly three percent of veterans have to wait longer than 30 days for a medical appointment. But at clinics in Gaylord and Traverse City, that percentage is almost down to zero.

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow is announcing legislation aimed to support those with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s known as the “HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act.”

“This is a very important piece of what needs to be done, because it focuses on encouraging doctors to diagnose early and to do caregiver planning,” Stabenow said.

Fewer parents in northern Michigan are opting out of vaccinations for their children. Health officials say the trend is positive but there is still more work to do.

In Leelanau County, just over 12 percent of parents requested a vaccine waiver for their kindergarteners this year. That number is down from nearly 20 percent the year before.

In Grand Traverse County, the rate of vaccine waivers is down from 13 percent to just under 10 percent. County Health Officer Wendy Trute says that’s a step in the right direction.

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