health: The Washtenaw Health Plan celebrates its 10th anniversary and gets a special tribute from the State of Michigan
The Washtenaw Health Plan program history actually goes back 27 years. In 1985, Carol Jindo had a $2,810 bill for a five-day Beyer Hospital stay, and she was being sued in district court for non-payment. She also needed additional surgery that she could not afford.
Legal Services and the University of Michigan Clinical Law Program filed suit on behalf of her and others like her. The lawsuit — centered on the fact that, in 1981, Washtenaw County had stopped paying for hospitalization for indigent county residents — was based on an old statute, Act 280 of 1939 (now known as MCLA Â§400.66 et. seq.) that required counties to pay for hospitalization for indigent county residents.
The statute dated from the Great Depression. In 1934, more than 180,000 Michigan residents received Direct Relief, and Act 280 was one reaction to the extreme poverty of the era. Thus began a long and winding tale that ended, in 2002, in the founding of the Washtenaw Health Plan.
Today, the Washtenaw Health Plan is a nonprofit organization that provides health care coverage to nearly 8,000 Washtenaw County residents who are low-income and don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. You can read more about the history of the Washtenaw Health Plan here.
With a partnership that includes Washtenaw County, the University of Michigan Health System and the St. Joseph Mercy Health System, the WHP is able to make a huge difference in people’s lives.
Writes one WHP member, “WHP has been a God send to me these past years of unemployment with medical issues plaguing me.” Another member writes that the Washtenaw Health Plan “has helped me move my life in a different direction. Being able to have regular contact with my doctor is just what I needed.” Yet another member says, simply, “I am alive; thank you.”
In recognition of the WHP’s 10th anniversary, Governor Snyder and all of the county's state senators and representatives signed a Special Tribute, which says, in part:
“During the last 10 years, the Washtenaw Health Plan staff worked tirelessly to engage in planning and community engagement initiatives to ensure that the program is serving the most families possible, in the best way possible... The program has helped to give citizens of the Washtenaw County area the opportunity to lead healthier lives, as they might not be able to access consistent, quality health care services otherwise... We commend all those who have contributed to this admirable achievement, including community partners St. Joseph Mercy Health System, the University of Michigan Health System, the government of Washtenaw County and the supportive network of primary and specialty care providers throughout the county.”
Today, the WHP is open to low-income, uninsured county residents with serious ongoing health needs. For more information about enrollment guidelines, call 734-544-3030 or visit the Washtenaw Health Plan website.