History and Impact

Shortly after the passage of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, health and community leaders across Washtenaw County came together for what they anticipated to be a six-month effort to prepare for “a successful transition to the health care world of 2014.”

In “A Picture of Health Care in Washtenaw County,” published in mid-2011, these volunteers reported that 28,864 Washtenaw County residents were currently uninsured; that 13,138 of these individuals would be newly eligible for Medicaid in 2014; that 10,728 others would likely purchase coverage through the ACA’s new Health Insurance Marketplace; and that 4,998 would remain uninsured.

While this group acknowledged that Washtenaw County had “excellent, high quality medical care with major health care systems and 983 primary care providers,” they felt that many of the county’s low-income, uninsured, and underinsured residents were not getting optimal care, and that the increase in the insured population would put more stress on the local health care delivery system.

“Even if the Act never goes into effect,” they wrote, “it is apparent that much can and needs to be done to improve access to integrated and coordinated care for the current low-income, uninsured, and Medicaid populations in Washtenaw County.”

The Washtenaw Health Initiative, as the group would later be known, was launched in July 2011 to build partnerships, and identify collaborative activities, to achieve that goal.