The Washtenaw Health Initiative: 10 years in review

The health care landscape has changed a lot since the Affordable Care Act was signed and implemented, inspiring the launch of the Washtenaw Health Initiative ten years ago. 

The State of Michigan chose to expand Medicaid through the Healthy Michigan Plan, which brought coverage to hundreds of thousands of additional residents with incomes up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

An individual mandate was adopted—and then repealed.

The opioid epidemic worsened—significantly increasing the number of lives lost to overdose and the amount of medical treatment and social support needed for successful recovery.

And our nation’s aging population grew to levels never before experienced. 

As America’s health care policies, needs, and approaches have changed, the WHI has changed, as well. 

In the beginning, members came together to help the county prepare for the implementation of the ACA. Initial members—including representatives from the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, Michigan Medicine, United Way of Washtenaw County, Washtenaw County Health Department, University of Michigan School of Public Health, and Washtenaw Health Plan—committed to analyzing our county’s readiness for an influx of newly insured patients, a project intended to last only six months. 

But, after publishing their analysis, titled A Picture of Healthcare in Washtenaw County, those involved agreed to continue to work collaboratively. The group decided on a formal name—the Washtenaw Health Initiative—adopted new and innovative programs to respond to our county’s most pressing needs, and learned how to better address inequities by increasing the diversity of our leadership and launching new equity-driven programs. 

Our new 10-year anniversary timeline shares this history visually, illustrating where we came from, where we’ve been, and where we’re going in the years ahead. 

The timeline lives on our new WHI website, which has more art and dynamic content, stronger security features, and more capacity for growth and innovation. We are pleased to share a few new website features, as well, including: 

And a robust archive of historic newsletter stories and announcements.