News Releases

Michigan continues to rank in bottom half nationally in child well-being

UNDER EMBARGO until Wednesday, June 27 at 12:01 a.m. ET

Contact:
Laura Millard Ross
lauramr@milhs.org
517-487-5436

Michigan continues to rank in bottom half nationally in child well-being

LANSING, MICHIGAN— Michigan ranks in the bottom half of the nation in every aspect of child well-being according to the 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The state’s rankings have fallen or stagnated in areas of economic well-being, education, family and community and health. Recent legislation, as well as a possible undercount in the 2020 Census, will make the status of Michigan’s children even more precarious.

“The numbers released today reflect the priorities of our state’s leaders. Although we hear messaging around Michigan becoming a stronger state filled with a talented young workforce, the policies and budget choices made by lawmakers do not show a desire to improve the well-being of young people,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “If we want a talented workforce in the future, we need to invest more in early childhood education, communities and families today.”

The annual KIDS COUNT Data Book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains — health, education, economic well-being and family and community — as an assessment of child well-being. In the 2018 Data Book, Michigan received an overall ranking of 33rd with the following national rankings:

  • 31st in economic well-being: 21 percent of Michigan kids live in poverty, which is higher than the national average of 19 percent.
  • 38th in education: 69 percent of eighth-graders are not proficient in math and 68 percent of fourth-graders are not proficient in reading. Math proficiency has stalled, and there has been 0 percent change in the percentage of kids graduating on time compared to 2009-2011
  • 25th in health: A bright spot for Michigan is the percentage of children with health insurance, due to in part to the state’s decision to expand Medicaid through Healthy Michigan. Currently, only 3 percent of children in Michigan are without health insurance, but that is now threatened by irresponsible legislation around work requirements..
  • 30th in family and community: 17 percent of kids live in high-poverty areas, making Michigan one of the worst six states in the nation for that indicator (ranked 44th).

In fact, since 2010, Michigan has seen a 6 percent increase in the number of children living in high-poverty areas. That last statistic is particularly concerning when considering the 2020 census, which was a focus in this year’s Data Book. The Foundation warns of troubling consequences for the nation’s kids with the likely undercount of about 1 million children under five in the 2020 census. About 62,000 kids in Michigan (11 percent), many of them who live in high-poverty areas, are among those who may go uncounted.

“Many kids in Michigan are already facing significant barriers, with more than 1 in 5 living in poverty. Now we’re learning that 62,000 children in our state could essentially be ignored, potentially causing less federal funds for programs the state badly needs,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “This is a frightening notion, especially because children of color, children with low family income and children in immigrant families stand to suffer the most — these are the groups who are already being left behind.”

In this year’s Data Book, the Foundation noted that millions of young children around the country live in neighborhoods where there’s a high risk of missing kids in the count, which would short-change child well-being over the next decade by putting at risk hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funding for programs critical to family stability and opportunity. Nationally, roughly 300 federal programs use census-derived data to allocate more than $800 billion a year. Michigan receives more than $4 billion in federal funding annually for the top 10 programs supporting kids.

“If we don’t count children, we render their needs invisible and their futures uncertain,” said Annie E. Casey Foundation President and CEO Patrick McCarthy. “A major census undercount will result in overcrowded classrooms, shuttered Head Start programs, understaffed hospital emergency rooms and more kids without healthcare.”

Reliable data is key to creating policies that work for all Michiganders. The Michigan League for Public Policy urges communities and local governments to invest in outreach around the census to ensure that the most vulnerable communities are counted.

The League has additional recommendations.

Almost 700,000 kids in Michigan live in a family where no parent has full-time unemployment; despite an improvement in employment rates, many residents are working in seasonal and part-time positions to make ends meet. The state ranks 38th in this measure of child well-being.

“Child poverty should be a major concern for the state, and the solution means looking at parents and their kids with a two-generation approach as well as addressing racial and ethnic disparities,” said Guevara Warren. “Michigan legislators should pursue a two-generation policy strategy that would better help families thrive. This approach should include affordable childcare, equitable workplace policies, higher wages and investment in adult education.”

The League also recommends improving access and quality of prenatal care, ensuring access to affordable, quality child care by raising eligibility levels for state child care subsidies, and restoring the state Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent of the federal credit.

Supplementing the Casey Foundation’s look at nationwide data through the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book is the annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book from the Michigan League for Public Policy. The 2018 Michigan Data Book has state-level and county-by-county data and rankings. The two reports work in concert to annually illustrate where child well-being stands in the nation, in Michigan and in each county.

Release Information
The 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book will be available June 27 at 12:01 a.m. EDT at www.aecf.org. Additional information is available at www.aecf.org/databook, which also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being. Journalists interested in creating maps, graphs and rankings in stories about the Data Book can use the KIDS COUNT Data Center at datacenter.kidscount.org.

About the Kids Count in Michigan Project
The Kids Count in Michigan project is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund and the Battle Creek Community Foundation.

About the Annie E. Casey Foundation
The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information visit www.aecf.org. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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Governor’s signature betrays plan he helped create

For Immediate Release
June 22, 2018

Contact:
Karen Holcomb Merrill
karenhm@milhs.org
517.242.0411

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on SB 897, signed by Governor Rick Snyder today. It can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“We are dismayed, albeit not surprised, that the governor put pen to paper today and betrayed the Healthy Michigan Plan he worked so hard to build. He also betrayed the people it serves.

That this new law puts into place work requirements for Medicaid recipients, affecting our state’s most vulnerable residents, is inexcusable enough, but at the last minute even more disturbing elements—all of them thinly-veiled punishments for people with low incomes—were added. It imposes a premium hike for folks just over the poverty line. In a so-called effort to save Healthy Michigan, the law will charge low-income earners an unprecedented 5% of their income for healthcare. We are creating poorer people with this policy, people who need that money to pay for rent, gas, food, and child care. This doesn’t make any sense.

Worst of all, the law would kill the Healthy Michigan Plan altogether, eliminating lifesaving care for 670,000 Michiganders, if the Trump administration fails to approve these changes now or in the future, or if lawsuits invalidate the waiver. It’s just appalling.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.milhs.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

President’s executive order fails to address trauma created, separation or criminalization of those seeking refuge and their children

For Immediate Release
June 21, 2018

Contact:
Karen Holcomb Merrill
karenhm@milhs.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on President Trump’s executive order on the separation of families. It can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy Kids Count Project Director, Alicia Guevara Warren.

“President Trump’s executive order does nothing to reunite families who have already been torn apart. We know that some kids have been relocated to Michigan and are now hundreds of miles away from their loved ones. We ask, what is being done to put them back into the arms of their parents? You can’t un-ring a bell, and President Trump and others can’t undo the horrible trauma they’ve inflicted on thousands of children and families.

Further, this order from the president does not change the fact that families are being thrown in jail. Together, yes, but jailing families is not a solution. We should examine how we can help kids and families find refuge from the persecution they face—we should be helping them find hope and freedom after they have faced unspeakable treatment in their home countries. People who seek freedom in our nation are not criminals.

We urge those in power to prioritize compassion over campaign jargon. We at the Michigan League for Public Policy and the Kids Count Program believe that children and families come first, and that Michigan’s leaders should find a solution that not only brings families together, but provides them dignity, humanity and hope.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.milhs.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Bill takes healthcare away from people and families, does nothing to address barriers to employment

For Immediate Release
June 6, 2018

Contact:
Laura Millard Ross
lauramr@milhs.org

517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on Senate Bill 897, which passed out of the House Appropriations Committee this morning. It can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“As we have been saying all along, no exemptions or amendments will make this a good bill. That includes the bill reported out of committee this morning. It will take healthcare away from people and increase costs for the state, without making it any easier for people to find and keep a job. The League and our allies are deeply concerned about the long-lasting and damaging effects it will have on Michiganders.

There is much talk about Michigan’s “recovery” but that recovery hasn’t reached everyone. Families from Grand Rapids to Cheboygan to Alpena  face similar barriers to employment—and this bill does nothing to address them. Transportation, child care and job training are seriously lacking in our state. We should be addressing those barriers to employment, not taking away healthcare from folks who need it.

This bill follows the disturbing trend of lawmakers spreading the harmful myth that people with low incomes are the cause of our state’s problems. It’s a dangerous message—and this time it will cost lives.

We applauded the governor and his strong opposition to this bill when it passed the Senate, but the changes in this bill are still not a ‘reasonable nor responsible change to the state’s social safety net.’ We encourage the governor to examine this proposal more closely and the harmful impact and unintended consequences it will have on people with disabilities, parents, and those with chronic health conditions, as well as others. This bill does one thing: it takes healthcare away from some of our state’s most vulnerable residents. We strongly urge the House to defeat the bill and if not, we call on the governor to veto this harmful piece of legislation.”

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.milhs.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way

Increased revenues create opportunity for Legislature to address problems in education, child poverty

For Immediate Release
May 16, 2018

Contact:
Karen Holcomb Merrill
karenhm@milhs.org
517.487.5436

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the revenue projections being announced at today’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. It can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President & CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“Learning that there is more revenue available in the budget gives us hope that lawmakers will take this opportunity to invest in what they’ve failed to adequately support in recent years: our kids.

The false notion that everyone in our state has rebounded from the great recession continues to keep Michigan’s children behind. Kids living in poverty are more likely to have poor nutrition, live in unsafe conditions and have less success in school. The 2019 budget proposals seem to ignore these facts and will cause our children to lose even more potential.

Family Independence Program (FIP) grants have not seen a significant increase since 1996 and we were pleased that the governor was willing to make a small inflationary increase. But that increase was entirely inadequate given the erosion of purchasing power for families receiving FIP. Adding insult to injury, the Legislature couldn’t even agree to that small increase. Eight out of 10 FIP recipients are kids. Refusing to set aside additional funding for children and families shows us where the Legislature’s priorities are—or where they are not. According to our Kids Count report, 1 in 5 kids in Michigan lives in poverty. Instead of helping these children thrive, the Legislature has pushed strict lifetime limits on FIP and created sanctions for entire families based on just one child’s absences. Fewer kids are getting help today with basic needs like food, shelter and clothing than they were in the late 1950s.

We know that education is key to helping kids thrive, so we also hope this increased revenue will result in more funding for early literacy programs to improve third grade reading proficiency. No new significant funding is being directed to early literacy programs despite the state’s third grade reading law. Instead of holding kids back in third grade, why can’t we help lift them up when they are young and developing the skills they need to learn to read?

The At-Risk School Aid program, which has received increases in recent years, is still not fully funded, and Kids Count data show that children are being held back from academic success because of their economic situation, inadequate housing, poor nutrition and struggling schools. The consequences of this lack of funding further threaten children of color, who already face inequities resulting from years of limited opportunities.

We are hopeful that our leaders will reflect on the options they have with this revenue and make the right investments for Michigan.”

For more information, see the League’s budget briefs on childhood poverty and education. The League has additional recommendations here.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.milhs.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

League testifies against bill to strip Medicaid from struggling Michiganders, shares real story

For Immediate Release
May 2, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@milhs.org
517-487-5436

House Appropriations Committee takes up SB 897 but delays vote

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the Michigan House Appropriations Committee’s hearing today on Senate Bill 897 that would take vital coverage away from Medicaid beneficiaries who don’t meet rigid work requirements. The committee could vote on the legislation as early as next week. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs, who also provided testimony at today’s hearing.

“As I sat before nearly 30 lawmakers today, I offered something that should resonate with every single one of them on why taking away Medicaid from people who are unable to work is a bad idea. The League and our partners have appealed to legislators’ brains, their pocketbooks—or the state’s—and their hearts, sharing myriad data and evidence that shows Medicaid is a work support, analyses that it will come with significant costs, and real stories from real people on how it will hurt struggling residents. The House Fiscal Agency analysis shows the bill would cause 105,000 struggling Michiganders to lose coverage—and that’s not something to celebrate. This bill will increase uncompensated care costs and the program will cost the state $20-$30 million annually. And it will hurt a majority of Michiganders that it claims it will help. The House seems to be following the Senate’s lead in rushing through this bill before truly understanding its consequences, but without a vote today, we still have time to change their minds.”

As part of her testimony today, Jacobs shared a personal story from Karen Schultz Tarnopol, an Oakland County resident who attested firsthand to the value of Medicaid and the threat of this bill. An excerpt of Karen’s story is included below.

“I was a single parent of two kids with a very good job…In 2008, when the market crashed…I lost my job with no notice, severance, insurance, etc. I spent many years trying to reestablish myself and had many jobs along the way. Because my work wasn’t consistent and/or for the same employer all the time, it would have been an arduous task to report a running 29-hour a week schedule to DHS [now the Department of Health and Human Services].

“While my kids and I were on Medicaid, something I signed up for reluctantly due to stupid pride, my son had open heart surgery and I had breast cancer. Medicaid paid every dime for both of us. As a mother, I was able to concentrate on caring for my sick son, and when I was undergoing treatment, I was not financially burdened with the medical bills and was able to focus on getting well and caring for my kids. Do not underestimate the significance of having good health care. If we didn’t have this insurance our story would have been significantly altered. Being on Medicaid and food stamps is not something I wanted to be on, and we are no longer on either program, but it made all the difference in the world when I needed it.”

The following groups opposed Senate Bill 897 in committee today: Center for Civil Justice; Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services; National Association of Social Workers – Michigan Chapter; American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network; American Lung Association; Washtenaw Health Plan; The Arc Michigan; Michigan Health & Hospital Association; American Heart Association; Ascension Health; Michigan Council for Maternal & Child Health; Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; United Way for Southeastern Michigan; Elder Law & Disability Rights Section – State Bar of Michigan; ACCESS; American Diabetes Association; McLaren Health Plan; Henry Ford Health System; Michigan Community Action; Michigan Catholic Conference; Trinity Healthy; Planned Parenthood.

Background:

From the Michigan League for Public Policy:

Blog: Is the Legislature even listening? (Includes excerpts of five personal stories.)

Fact Sheet: SB 897: Medicaid work requirements

Report: Medicaid Work Requirements: Why Making People Work Doesn’t Work

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

Report: Michigan Medicaid Proposal Would Lead to Large Coverage Losses, Harm Low-Income Workers

Blog: Michigan’s Medicaid Proposal Would Harm Low-Income Workers — And Can’t Be Fixed

From the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, and Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan:

Column: Medicaid work bill could hurt, not help, people who want to work

Column: Beware of unintended consequences of Michigan Medicaid work demand

Fact Sheet: Proposed Work Requirements for Medicaid in Michigan

From ACCESS and the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition:

Column: Protect Healthy Michigan as is

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.milhs.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Senate committee passes unnecessary attack on healthcare for struggling Michigan residents: Medicaid work requirements stand to be complicated, costly and illegal

For Immediate Release
April 18, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@milhs.org
517-487-5436

Medicaid work requirements stand to be complicated, costly and illegal

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the Senate Michigan Competitiveness Committee’s party-line passage today of Senate Bill 897 to implement work requirements for Michigan’s Medicaid enrollees. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs, who also testified in opposition to the bill on March 21.

“After President Donald Trump and the Centers on Medicaid and Medicare Services opened the door on Medicaid work requirements, some Michigan lawmakers are unfortunately scrambling to run through it. In doing so, legislators are blatantly violating the intent of Medicaid to provide healthcare for people with low incomes, an intent that has been upheld for more than 50 years, and ignoring the fact that most of Michigan’s Medicaid population is already working. Those that aren’t working are largely students, caretakers, seniors, people with disabilities or other people that are unable to work. The only thing about this bill that makes Michigan ‘competitive’ is that it’s racing other states to the courtroom and leaving residents in need behind.

“This effort needs less political rhetoric and more data and logic. Evidence shows that work requirements rarely lead to long-term employment—especially not employment that would raise someone out of poverty. In moving forward on this bill today, Republican lawmakers ignored data that work requirements are harmful to recipients and our state departments.

“And they ignored the people that they were sent to Lansing to represent. They disregarded the large group of advocates voicing strong opposition and what this would really mean to students, cancer patients and others struggling with illness, and our economy. They dismissed the hundreds of concerned residents that have reached out to their legislators in the last month to oppose this bill. And they wrote off all of the people who have contacted our office to express their fears about this bill and how it will turn their lives upside down. These are people who have Medicaid for a variety of reasons, from having had tragic accidents that have left them homebound to having temporarily low incomes due to unexpected life changes. These are real Michiganders who are scared of losing access to the healthcare they so badly need. They’re struggling every day, yet some lawmakers want to make that struggle even more difficult.

“By passing work requirements that will likely require burdensome paperwork for many Michigan Medicaid recipients, lawmakers are not only placing complicated ‘big government’ bureaucracy on Medicaid enrollees, but on small business owners, doctors and medical professionals and state caseworkers as well. And they are disregarding the problems already being encountered by other states like Kentucky, including outrageous costs to state and federal government and significant legal challenges. The League is all for helping people find and keep jobs, but Medicaid is keeping people healthy and able to work, not enabling residents to avoid it. This bill shouldn’t have even passed out of committee, but now that it has, it’s up to the Senate leadership and members to stand up for their constituents and stop it.”

The League recently issued a report, Medicaid work requirements: Why making people work doesn’t work, that outlined a number of issues with proposed Medicaid work requirements and sought to stop the flawed plan before it started. As the bill moves forward, these major concerns remain:

  • Exemptions will be hard to get with narrow definitions and difficulty obtaining medical records and other documents.
  • Lost healthcare coverage and burdensome bureaucracy for recipients, including complex paperwork for exemptions and coverage “lockouts” for noncompliance.
  • Legality. In Kentucky, a lawsuit has already been filed in response to the recent approval of the Kentucky Medicaid waiver to enforce work requirements (Stewart v. Azar).
  • High cost. Cost estimates for Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky are nearly $187 million for the first six months. In Tennessee, they are expected to cost $18.7 million a year. While federal funding is expected to largely cover the initial costs, states will eventually have to foot the bill, and that’s money that will be taken away from what Michiganders really need: good schools, safer roads, and better job training.
  • Savings at expense of lost coverage. Kentucky expects the implementation of work requirements and other reforms will save the state over $2 billion dollars, but much of that will likely come from people losing their coverage.

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The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.milhs.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Locked up, held back and left behind: 2018 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book outlines policy changes needed to better serve all kids, reduce disparities

For Immediate Release 
April 17, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@milhs.org
517.487.5436

Michigan kids facing increased rate of abuse and neglect, high poverty, unstable family employment and significant academic challenges

LANSING—A majority of child well-being indicators have stagnated or worsened statewide since 2010, with widening disparities by race, ethnicity and income, according to the 2018 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book released today by the Michigan League for Public Policy.

The 2018 data book outlined raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old as a top policy change to better serve Michigan kids. Michigan is one of only five states yet to do so, and a bipartisan package of bills to change the law has already been introduced and is awaiting action. Youth who are charged in the adult system do not receive adequate education or age-appropriate treatment and services. Kids housed in adult correctional facilities face a higher risk of being physically or sexually assaulted, and are much more likely to recidivate or commit more violent offenses than youth served by the juvenile justice system.

“By passing the ‘raise the age’ bills, lawmakers could make a difference in improving the lives of Michigan’s kids and bettering our state,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director. “Regardless of their offense, 17-year-olds in our state are being punished for a lifetime, facing traumatic experiences, getting a criminal record and missing out on education and rehabilitation services. However, with age-appropriate treatment, many will have the opportunity to be productive and help strengthen their communities.”

The report reveals that poverty and other economic strains remain a significant problem for Michigan kids, especially kids of color. While the rate of child poverty in Michigan has improved by 11.5 percent since 2010, more than 1 in 5 kids in Michigan—including 42 percent of African-American kids and 30 percent of Latinx kids—still lived in poverty in 2016. Additionally, 31 percent of children in Michigan lived in families without year-round, full-time employment.

“The 2018 Kids Count Data Book provides an important counterpoint to the conversation on Michigan’s economic recovery,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO for the Michigan League for Public Policy. “While poverty has dropped slightly, it’s still affecting nearly half of all African-American kids, and nearly a third of all Michigan kids don’t have any family member steadily working. As lawmakers work on the budget over the next few months, they must place a greater emphasis on supporting struggling families and their kids.”

Economic and academic struggles go hand-in-hand for many Michigan kids. Michigan ranks in the bottom ten 10 nationally in education for kids with many disparate outcomes for students of color and students in families with low incomes. Nearly 53 percent of the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds are not in preschool. About 56 percent of the state’s third-graders are not proficient in reading, including about 70 percent of kids of color compared to 48 percent of White third-graders.

These problems persist as kids age, with 65 percent of Michigan’s students not being career- and college-ready. Significant disparities exist by race/ethnicity and family income: 84 percent of students from families with low incomes do not meet the readiness benchmarks compared to 16 percent of students from higher income families. Policymakers need to think strategically to improve education outcomes.

“As a Flint resident, a policy advocate and the head of an organization committed to improving literacy in my community, I appreciate the importance of Kids Count’s data, analysis and policy recommendations,” said Ja’Nel Jamerson, Executive Director of the Flint and Genesee Literacy Network and a board member of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “We know that kids’ reading skills are influenced by a variety of factors. By analyzing data in all the significant aspects of a child’s life, the Kids Count book enables state and federal policymakers and local organizations like ours to see what’s working for our kids, and what barriers they’re facing and how we can break them down.”

With the disastrous Flint water crisis that exposed thousands of kids to lead, Kids Count has placed a greater emphasis on tracking child well-being in Flint, creating a profile for the city for the second year in a row. This is in addition to the Genesee County profile that has been created each year. The Michigan League for Public Policy has also been actively working on community engagement and advocacy in the Flint area to help provide residents with the data and tools to influence and improve public policy.

Since 1992, the Michigan League for Public Policy has been compiling and releasing the annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book to analyze and evaluate the well-being of children in the state. The 2018 book primarily compares data from 2010 to 2016 and analyzes 16 key indicators across four domains. The report also ranks 82 of the 83 counties for overall child well-being (Keweenaw County lacks sufficient data). The top five counties for child well-being in 2018 are Livingston (1st), Ottawa (2nd), Clinton (2nd), Oakland (4th), and Washtenaw (5th). The bottom five counties in 2018 are Lake (82nd), Clare (81st), Muskegon (80th), Calhoun (79th), and Oceana (78th).

For additional information on the 2018 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, including the full report, state, county and regional rankings, charts and images, resources for advocates, and county-specific profiles and press releases for 82 counties, go to www.milhs.org/kids-count/michigan-2/2018-kids-count-in-michigan-data-book.

Key policy recommendations:

  • “Raise the Age” of juvenile jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old.
  • Strengthen policies that support work, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Allowing families to keep more of what they earn improves educational and health outcomes for kids.
  • Ensure access to affordable, high-quality child care.
  • Expand home visitation programs to help provide additional support to families, remove barriers that prevent access to prenatal care, and reduce risk for child abuse and neglect
  • Provide sufficient funding for early interventions to improve third-grade reading using a birth-to-8 framework and adequately fund public schools, targeting resources in high-need areas and fully funding the At-Risk program.

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The Kids Count in Michigan project is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Frey Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Ruth Mott Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, and the Battle Creek Community Foundation. More state and local data are available at the Kids Count Data Center, www.datacenter.kidscount.org.

 

New report warns against problematic Medicaid work requirements

For Immediate Release 
March 7, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@milhs.org
517.487.5436

Analysis shows why Michigan Legislature should abandon pursuit of ineffective, expensive and potentially illegal policy

LANSING—After getting the green light from the federal government, 10 states are pursuing Medicaid work requirements and Michigan could be next. But a new report released by the Michigan League for Public Policy today, Medicaid work requirements: Why making people work doesn’t work, reveals that Michigan lawmakers should think twice before pursuing the costly and risky policy.

Enacted in 1965, Medicaid was created to give people with low incomes health insurance and to improve their health. Nowhere in the Medicaid statute does it say that work could and can be used as a determination of eligibility—a basis supported by every previous presidential administration in five decades since. But President Donald Trump and his federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) directors have changed course.

Some Michigan legislators are looking to capitalize on the opportunity to pursue Medicaid work requirements, and a bill has already been introduced in the House of Representatives, HB 5317. This move could complicate and even eliminate life-saving healthcare for over two million Michiganders on Medicaid, including the 675,000-plus that are enrolled in the state’s Medicaid expansion program for residents with low incomes, the Healthy Michigan Plan.

“Michigan legislators must look at the human and financial costs of attempting to implement work requirements, especially with the growing data and information that shows they are likely to cause more harm than good,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO for the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Medicaid work requirements will likely come with a hefty price tag to both the state and federal government, and with major questions about legality, they are more likely to be settled with a gavel in a courtroom than a gavel in the Capitol.”

Most Medicaid enrollees in Michigan are already working. In a study by the University of Michigan of those enrolled in Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program, Healthy Michigan, 48.8 percent of respondents said they were employed. Additionally, 27.6 percent of enrollees were out of work, with many stating poor health status, chronic illness or mental illness as their reason for not having work. The rest of those surveyed who were not working stated they were unable to work due to fair or poor health (11.3%), or because they were retired (2.5%), students (5.2%) or homemakers (4.5%).

Other studies related to Medicaid employment nationwide show that 6 out of 10 nonelderly Medicaid enrollees are working and 8 out of 10 Medicaid enrollees live in a household where someone is working. Similar to the study done in Michigan, those who are not working state that disability, caregiving responsibilities or going to school are the reasons they are not.

“Too often we see politicians burdening Michiganders in need with harsh requirements and confusing red tape,” Jacobs said. “It would be more productive for Michigan lawmakers to invest in job training and continued support for Medicaid and other assistance programs, without which many Michiganders would lose access to valuable health coverage that allows them to work and provide for their families.

What’s wrong with Medicaid work requirements? A lot. Here are some of the primary concerns outlined in the report:

Exemptions will be hard to get. Narrow definitions and the difficulty of obtaining medical records and other documents will create additional problems for recipients, healthcare providers and Medicaid offices.

Lost healthcare coverage and burdensome bureaucracy for recipients. Complex paperwork for exemptions, coverage “lockouts” for noncompliance and additional requirements for employers add layers of complication to the program.

Legality. In Kentucky, a lawsuit has already been filed in response to the recent approval of the Kentucky Medicaid waiver to enforce work requirements (Stewart v. Azar).

High cost. Cost estimates for Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky are nearly $187 million for the first six months. In Tennessee, they are expected to cost $18.7 million a year. (Federal funding is expected to largely cover the cost.) The savings states are hoping to reap will largely come from people losing their coverage.

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Additional Resources:

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: A Medicaid Work Requirement Would Block Poor Families from Care

Kaiser Family Foundation: Understanding the Intersection of Medicaid and Work

Health Affairs: Myths About the Medicaid Expansion and the ‘Able-Bodied’

New York Times: The Adults a Medicaid Work Requirement Would Leave Behind

The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.milhs.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Calling all kids: Michigan Kids Count project holding first-ever open call for photos

For Immediate Release 
February 23, 2018

Contact:
Alex Rossman
arossman@milhs.org
517.487.5436

Deadline for submissions is March 20, 2018

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy’s Kids Count project announced today that it is calling for photographs of a diverse range of kids age 0-17 and families from around the state to fill its upcoming 2018 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book. The deadline for submissions is March 20, 2018. Photos can be submitted online at www.milhs.org/kids-count/share-photos.

“We are very excited to show everyday Michigan children and families in our 2018 Data Book, because they’re the ones we’re fighting for every day,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “We want to pair real faces with real data to better tell the story of how our state’s kids and families are impacted by policy decisions.”

With this call for photos, Kids Count is looking for a broad representation of Michigan’s families, with diversity in age, geography, gender, and race and ethnicity. The project is also hoping to get photos of kids in action and participating in activities to match the Data Book’s main categories of Education, Health and Safety, Economic Security, and Family and Community. Interested families should take a look at the 2017 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book for examples.

There will be no compensation for submissions aside from inclusion in the 2018 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book. Photos must be received by the end of the day March 20, 2018, and submitted by the parent or guardian of the child or children in the photographs. Questions can be emailed to lauramr@milhs.org.

Since 1992, the Michigan League for Public Policy has been compiling and releasing the annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book to analyze and evaluate the well-being of children in the state. The report also ranks Michigan counties for overall child well-being.

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About the Kids Count in Michigan Project
The Kids Count in Michigan project is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Frey Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Battle Creek Community Foundation and the Fetzer Institute.

The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.milhs.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

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