August is National Immunization Awareness Month

LANSING–The focus for National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) this year is to get back on track with vaccinations and highlight the importance of routine vaccinations for people of all ages.  All members of the healthcare team play a role in promoting the importance of vaccines as research has shown that a strong recommendation from the healthcare team is a vital aspect of vaccination outcomes.

Healthcare team members can strengthen confidence in vaccinations by sharing accurate and clear information about the newest vaccine recommendations, creating a supportive environment for conversation with patients/parents, using proven strategies to outreach to patients/parents and by staying up to date and engaging in learning opportunities around vaccinations.

CDC’s NIAM website has two toolkits–for healthcare professionals and for reaching patients and parents–and multiple promotional materials available (i.e., infographics, social media posts, educational resources, etc.). CDC encourages healthcare providers to utilize these toolkits and promotional materials throughout the month of August.

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NCQA Introduction and Advanced PCMH Program Training on Tap in August

LANSING–With support from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the National Committee for Quality Assurance is pleased to provide the NCQA Introduction and Advanced PCMH Program Training as a virtual event around Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition for HRSA Region V.

This five-day training–free for participants–will be held August 21-25 and hosted by the Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA) and Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association (WPHCA), consisting of two courses:

  • NCQA’s Intro to PCMH Program: Foundational Concepts of the Medical Home
  • NCQA’s Advanced PCMH Program: Mastering the Medical Home Transformation

The tentative agenda includes a total of seven live webinars lasting 45 to 90 minutes each over the course of the week. If you are unable to attend one of the live sessions, you can view the recording and receive credit for course completion.

Registration: HRSA Sponsored Region 5 PCMH Training Both Courses (Parent link to register for all sessions at one time)

Registration: HRSA Sponsored Region 5 PCMH Introduction to PCMH Course  (Introduction to PCMH)

Registration: HRSA Sponsored Region 5 PCMH Advanced Course   (Advanced PCMH)

The purpose of this training is to support community health centers in achieving and sustaining NCQA PCMH recognition. Participants who complete both courses will be eligible to sit for the PCMH Content Expert Certification (PCMH CCE) exam, if interested.

Staff from health centers (both FQHCs and Look-Alikes), primary care associations, and Health Center Controlled Networks in HRSA Region V, or who are members of MidWest Clinicians’ Network, are highly encouraged to attend.

The format for the trainings will be provided through a series of recorded lectures interspersed with live webinars that will include question and answer opportunities, polling, content review and engagement with the training faculty. The required on-demand modules should be reviewed prior to each scheduled webinar session.

Contact Lieah Wilder or Candy Vertalka with questions.

Student Loan Repayment Program Provides Incentive for Medical Providers

LANSING–As part of its multifaceted plan to address the opioid epidemic, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is offering student loan repayment to eligible medical providers if they begin providing or expand opioid addiction treatment programs through the Michigan Opioid Treatment Access Loan Repayment Program.

The goal of the repayment program is to increase availability of opioid use disorder treatment across the state, especially in areas where treatment is difficult to access. The program is being funded through the Michigan Opioid Healing and Recovery Fund, which is receiving payments from the nationwide settlement with the three largest pharmaceutical distributors, as well as opioid manufacturer, Johnson and Johnson.

“By supporting our workforce, we are able to expand life-saving services to those suffering from opioid and substance use disorders,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “Repaying student loans for providers eases the financial burden of those working in this field and offers an incentive for those considering entering this high-demand caregiving workforce. We encourage all who are eligible to apply by March 13.”

The program is available to medical and osteopathic medicine doctors, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and substance use disorder counselors who begin offering opioid treatment or expand treatment that is already being offered. Providers who work in a variety of health care settings are eligible to apply.

This is the third time MDHHS has accepted applications for the program. During the first two rounds, 64 providers had their student loans partially-repaid reaching a total of $1,158,678.

Applications must be submitted by March 13. Applications and other resources can be found at Health care providers are encouraged to review the materials and submit applications when the cycle begins.

–MDHHS Communications

MDHHS Launches Hotline for Seasonal Farmworkers to get Bilingual Information about COVID Vaccines

LANSING–A new bilingual hotline makes it easier for Michigan’s migrant workers and their families to get information about the COVID-19 vaccine and other health-related matters.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Office of Migrant Affairs is launching the toll-free number, 1-833-SIAYUDA (1-833-742-9832). Si ayuda means “yes help” or “yes assistance” in Spanish.

More than two-thirds of the approximately 90,000 migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their family members in Michigan have limited English language proficiency, which may prevent them from getting access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatment. That’s according to the University of Michigan’s 2023 study “Fair Housing Access, Affordability, and Quality for Michigan Farmworkers During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond.”

“We aim to make health care in Michigan client-centered, which includes providing information in the person’s primary language when available to ensure timely health services,” said Dwayne Haywood, senior deputy director of the MDHHS Economic Stability Administration. “The Farmworker Hotline is a translation tool to help keep farmworkers healthy and reduce health-related work absences that could result in loss of earnings needed to support their families.”

Farmworkers are a vital part of Michigan’s annual $104.7 billion food and agricultural industry. The hotline will expedite COVID-19-related services to Michigan’s migrant and seasonal farmworkers, including food processing workers, dairy workers and nursery/greenhouse workers. 

The MDHHS Farmworker Hotline – which is funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – will be answered by MDHHS Migrant Affairs’ staff who are fluent in both Spanish and English. Migrant Affairs staff will answer vaccine questions and connect farmworkers to vaccination clinics and resources, make appropriate referrals to local offices, and provide other MDHHS program information based upon farmworker inquiries.

For farmworker calls in languages other than English and Spanish, a translation service will be available. MDHHS has translation services policy and contracts in place statewide to provide state-of-the-art health care to Michigan residents.

Ultimately, the goal of the MDHHS Farmworker Hotline is to help Michigan provide bilingual residents with tools to prevent disease, improve health outcomes and increase well-being. Hotline information distribution is being provided to all Michigan local offices serving migrant and seasonal farmworkers, partner agencies, and through social media.

Find more details at or

–MDHHS Communications

MDHHS Reminds Michiganders to get Tested for HIV on World AIDS Day

LANSING–The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recognized World AIDS Day Thursday to bring awareness to the ongoing HIV epidemic and to remember those who have been lost due to HIV and AIDS. Michiganders are encouraged to get tested for HIV to know their status, and any person with HIV who is not in treatment is encouraged to engage in medical care.

“It is essential that we reach people who do not know their HIV status, ensure they are tested and connect those who test positive with quality care so they can lead healthy lives,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive. “As a state we are committed to taking proactive measures to end the HIV epidemic which is why it is so important for Michigan residents to know their HIV status.”

This year’s theme is “putting ourselves to the test: achieving equity to end HIV.” The theme relates to ongoing efforts by MDHHS to end the HIV epidemic through equitable and culturally competent programs, outreach and resources for HIV testing, treatment and prevention. Over the past year, MDHHS has worked to ensure access to HIV services is available to everyone. Local health departments offer free and confidential HIV services on-site, and many offer at-home HIV test kits that can be mailed directly to residents. Many local organizations also offer HIV services. Michiganders can call 211 or visit this website to locate HIV testing and treatment services near them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone get tested for HIV at least once as an adult. MDHHS recommends that anyone with a new sex or needle-sharing partner or people who are at high risk be tested more often.

As part of Michigan’s Ending the HIV Epidemic plan, MDHHS is working to significantly reduce the rate of new HIV infections by supporting efforts to increase HIV testing, connect people to quality health care and increase the use of prevention strategies such as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and “Undetectable equals Untransmittable.”

People who are at high risk of HIV exposure are encouraged to talk to their doctor about PrEP, a medication designed to prevent HIV infection if there is an exposure.

To find testing locations and discover more about Michigan’s resources for HIV, visit

–MDHHS Communications

 World Aids Day.pdf

Health Leaders Hold Roundtable Discussion in Detroit

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Elizabeth Hertel joined other health leaders today at Community Health and Social Services (CHASS) Center, Inc. in Detroit to discuss how access to health care is improved by the fiscal year 2023 budget signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and through federally qualified health centers.

In addition to the impact of the budget, today’s roundtable discussion focused on issues such as the effect on Michigan families of Whitmer administration efforts to lower prescription drug prices.

CHASS Center is a federally qualified heath center that develops, promotes and provide comprehensive, accessible and affordable quality primary health care and support services to all residents of the community, with special emphasis on the underserved African-American and Latino population.

“Community Health and Social Services Center and not-for-profit organizations like it throughout Michigan epitomize our vision of delivering health and opportunity to all Michiganders, reducing intergenerational poverty and promoting health equity,” Hertel said.

“As Gov. Whitmer’s budget provides the dollars needed to improve access to health care, these local organizations are working every day in their communities to deliver these services to Michigan residents to keep them healthy.”

Improving access to health care is a priority in the budget signed by Gov. Whitmer, who also has focused on lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

The fiscal year 2023 budget includes:

  • $132.5 million in new resources to improve Medicaid reimbursement for several critical services, including vaccine administration, primary care, community health workers, neonatal services, and private duty nursing.
  • $85.1 million to improve access to dental care for Michiganders enrolled in Medicaid.
  • $181.6 million to expand behavioral health community capacity and increase the number of psychiatric beds for children and adults.
  • Funding for health equity across the lifespan including:
    • $1.2 million for expansion of Healthy Moms Healthy Babies maternal and infant health and support programs to provide professional doula care services for pregnant women, new mothers and their families and address disparities.
    • $555,700 to place migrant family independence specialists at federally qualified health centers.
  • Funding for initiatives to address racial disparities including:
    • Funding for outreach to women disproportionally at risk of or impacted by uterine fibroid disease.
    • $2.5 million for a Sickle Cell Center of Excellence to address sickle cell disease, a medical condition that disproportionately impacts people of color.
  • $28.3 million to allow Medicaid reimbursement for community health workers.
  • $3.4 million in one-time funding for an alternative payment model pilot program which will include a health care provider working with a health plan and a federally qualified health center to implement a pathway hub in Muskegon to support the social and medical needs of the community.

As the largest network of affordable primary health care providers in the nation, Community Health Centers improve the health and well-being of underserved communities and empower people to actively take part in solving issues unique to them and their communities.

“We understand the impact of social drivers of health and work tirelessly to help mitigate them in effective care delivery,” said Dr. Felix Valbuena Jr., CEO of CHASS Center. “Continued support for the mission and work of health centers significantly impacts our ability to help community members be the best version of themselves.”

In Michigan, 40 community health centers provide affordable, quality behavioral and physical health care to more than 720,000 people, including more than 200,000 children. They work in coordination with MDHHS, local health departments and other partners to implement programs at the community level including health education, vaccination administration and social service referrals.

“MPCA is grateful for the efforts of Gov. Whitmer’s administration to formulate a budget that will positively impact the health of communities across the state,” said Phillip Bergquist, chief executive officer of the Michigan Primary Care Association. “These critical investments will improve service delivery and assist in greater access to health care, especially for vulnerable populations.”

In addition to providing funding to improve access to health care, Gov. Whitmer has acted to make prescription drugs affordable. Earlier this year she signed bipartisan legislation to lower the costs of prescription drugs for Michiganders, ensure that pharmacists can provide honest advice to patients about treatment options, and hold pharmacy benefit managers accountable. The governor’s Prescription Drug Task Force, housed within MDHHS, had recommended those actions.

Also participating in the roundtable discussion were representatives from Community Health and Social Services Center, including Valbuena; patients at the center; Bergquist; and Joslyn Pettway, chief executive officer of Covenant Community Care. Hertel and others toured the center following the discussion. Health Care Access Press Release.pdf

–MDHHS (Photo Courtesy: Latino Press)

MPCA, Cherry Health Receive State Funds for AmeriCorps Work

LANSING–The Michigan Primary Care Association AmeriCorps (HealthCorps) program and MPCA member Cherry Health (Grand Rapids) were recipients last month of federal grants earmarked to benefitting local communities. The MPCA with 15 HealthCorps members received $239,759 while Cherry Health’s 20-member AmeriCorps program received $555,170, as both organizations will use the money for healthy futures with their communities in mind.

“I would like to sincerely thank Governor Whitmer for recognizing the impact of the MPCA AmeriCorps HealthCorps members and the work that they do,” stated MPCA AmeriCorps Program Administrative Specialist Karen Goucher. “We have been able to serve over 6,500 Michiganders in just the last six months with healthcare, resources and health education.  With the governor’s investment of additional funds for our program, we will be able to place more members throughout Michigan and have an even larger impact on the recovery of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the Michigan Community Service Commission will receive $13.4 million in federal funds to support over 1,100 Michigan AmeriCorps members who work hand in hand with organizations across the state to help communities tackle their toughest challenges.

“Today’s AmeriCorps investments will help us grow Michigan’s economy and ensure every community can thrive,” said Gov. Whitmer. “These investments – and the over 1,100 dedicated AmeriCorps members who will serve those in need and address critical challenges – will continue to make a tremendous impact in communities in every region of Michigan. Together, let’s help our working families and resilient communities thrive.”


HHS Announces Support for Health Centers to Identify and Reduce Health Disparities

WASHINGTON, D.C.–This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced the availability of nearly $90 million in American Rescue Plan funding to support new data-driven efforts for HRSA Health Center Program-supported health centers and look-alikes (HRSA-designated health centers) to identify and reduce health disparities.

HRSA’s modernized data collection and reporting initiative, called Uniform Data System Patient-Level Submission (UDS+), is designed to collect more and better data on social determinants of health, while also streamlining and improving data quality reporting for health centers. This effort will enable health centers to tailor their efforts to improve health outcomes and advance health equity, more precisely targeting the needs of specific communities or patients.

“Health centers are vital to increasing equitable access to primary health care,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The Biden-Harris Administration has made historic investments in health centers, and this funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan will further enable health centers to utilize data to meet the needs of their community and help reduce gaps in care.”

“HRSA’s funding has supported our nation’s health centers in becoming leaders in leveraging the latest technology and data to provide high-quality care to individuals and communities who have been historically underserved,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “Today’s announcement builds on this work and will help health centers modernize their data tools to improve equitable access to care and continue to best meet the needs of the communities and patients they serve.”

The funding announced today can be used for various COVID-19 activities and for modifying, enhancing, and expanding health care services and infrastructure by improving health information technology, enhancing data collection, and supporting related staff training. These efforts will advance broader COVID-19 response, mitigation, and recovery efforts. Additionally, they will help prepare for future public health emergencies.

The enhancements that health centers may make to their infrastructure using ARP-UDS+ funds will support patient-level reporting and enable them to better identify, measure, and investigate disparities in health care use and health outcomes by race, ethnicity, age, and other important demographic factors, and to more precisely target their resources accordingly. Standardization of patient-level health data will enable the identification of populations most at risk for health disparities and will provide data to inform potential clinical interventions. Furthermore, the ability to collect, house, and report standardized patient-level health data will support health centers’ participation in critical population health surveillance activities during public health emergencies.

Since March of 2021, HRSA has awarded approximately $6 billion to health centers to support and expand COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and treatment for populations at higher risk for COVID-19; nearly $1 billion in major construction to increase health care access in health centers and approximately $32 million to enhance COVID-19 related training and technical assistance support.

HRSA-supported health centers serve medically underserved populations and communities, which are often disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Health centers serve 1 in 5 people living in rural communities, and 1 in 11 people nationwide. More than 90% of HRSA-funded health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and nearly 63% are racial or ethnic minorities.

Applications are due in HRSA’s Electronic Handbooks by 5:00 p.m. ET on Monday, May 23, 2022. Visit the American Rescue Plan UDS+ Supplemental Funding technical assistance webpage for the notice of funding opportunity, technical assistance information, and other resources.

–DHHS Michigan’s Medicaid ballooned during COVID. It’s about to be pared back.

Nearly 3 million Michiganders now receiving Medicaid may have to prove they remain eligible starting as early as this summer. And if all doesn’t go well, hundreds of thousands could risk losing health coverage.

To read the full story “Michigan’s Medicaid ballooned during COVID. It’s about to be pared back” by

Bridge Michigan staff writer Robin Erb in her Michigan Health Watch column, please click on the link.

Photo and story courtesy of Robin Erb,