City Joins Washtenaw Health Initiative

Originally posted on the Ann Arbor Chronicle

JULY 2, 2012 at 8 pm by Chronicle Staff

At its July 2, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council passed a resolution that allows the city of Ann Arbor to become a member of the Washtenaw Health Initiative (WHI). The resolution altered the budget for fiscal year 2013 (which began July 1) by adding $10,000 of general fund money to the budget for the office of community development – to cover the membership fee for this year. The resolution also recommends consideration of renewing the membership next year. [The city of Ann Arbor adopts budgets only one year at a time.]

A goal of WHI is to help local health care providers handle an influx of an estimated 50,000 newly insured patients when federal health care reforms take effect in 2014. The goal is to develop a plan to provide better health care for the county’s low-income residents, the uninsured and people on Medicaid – prior to changes that will be mandated by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Currently, 2,719 people in Washtenaw County are already eligible for Medicaid but not enrolled – and of those, 958 are city of Ann Arbor residents.

The WHI is a collaboration co-chaired by former county administrator Bob Guenzel and retired University of Michigan treasurer Norman Herbert, along with Ellen Rabinowitz, executive director of the Washtenaw Health Plan. The effort is jointly sponsored by the UM Health System and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, and facilitated by Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation – a joint venture of UM and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Other partners involved in the project include the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce, Arbor Hospice, Catholic Social Services, Dawn Farm, Hope Clinic, Huron Valley Ambulance, Integrated Health Associates, Packard Health, Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan, United Way of Washtenaw County, and the Women’s Center of Southeastern Michigan.

The Washtenaw County board of commissioners voted on April 4, 2012 to make the county a member of WHI – and approved the $10,000 membership fee. The city and county are two of over 30 members of WHI, who have together contributed more than $100,000 to the effort.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow.

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