Posted by The Huron Hub Friday, April 10, 2020 3:30 PM EST
Here are several important COVID-19 updates released Friday, April 10:
Michigan’s health insurers agree to provide coronavirus treatment at no cost to patients
The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) announced that the state has received agreements from nearly all of the state’s health insurance companies to waive cost-sharing, including copays, deductibles, and coinsurance for coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and treatments. The Whitmer Administration and DIFS had worked with insurers to waive these costs.
“Michiganders that are fighting for their lives should not have the extra burden of fighting with their health insurer to cover the costs of their care,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “I am thankful that health insurers agreed to cover Michiganders’ coinsurance, deductibles, and copays as we fight this virus. It’s going to take all of us doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. We will get through this together”
Consumers with these individual and group health plans will not be charged cost-sharing for coronavirus-related medical treatment, such as primary care visits, laboratory testing, emergency room visits, ambulance services, and FDA-approved medications and vaccines for COVID-19 when they become available.
“This announcement is a clear demonstration of our governor’s ability to get things done for Michiganders during this emergency,” said DIFS Director Anita G. Fox. “I applaud these health insurers for working with Governor Whitmer to remove financial barriers for those seeking treatment during this crisis.”
The insurers who have agreed to waive cost-sharing are:
Aetna Better Health of Michigan
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network, MI Blue Cross Complete
HAP, Alliance Health
McLaren Health Plan
Meridian Health Plan
Molina Healthcare Michigan
Physicians Health Plan (PHP)
Priority Health, Priority Health Insurance Co., Priority Health Choice, Total Health Care
United Healthcare Insurance, United Healthcare Community Plan
The waived cost-sharing applies to commercial health insurance products from these insurers. Consumers with questions about their specific coverage may wish to reach out to their health plan directly.
DIFS can help consumers with health insurance questions and complaints. The Michigan Health Insurance Consumer Assistance Program (HICAP) can provide shopping tips and help answer questions about health insurance including Special Enrollment Periods for those experiencing job loss or an income reduction. Contact DIFS at 877-999-6442 or email at DIFS-HICAP@michigan.gov.
New resources to help unemployed workers resolve technical issues with their accounts
To better serve Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) claimants experiencing MILogin and Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) technical difficulties when applying for benefits, the Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) has implemented new online tools to help users report and resolve technical issues. MILogin is the state’s single-sign-on portal to access state services, while MiWAM acts as the UIA’s system for filing your unemployment insurance claim and managing UIA accounts online.
“We’ve built online prompts and other resources into the systems to help unemployed workers resolve technical issues when trying to login to submit their claim,” said LEO Director Jeff Donofrio. “While we estimate that around 95 percent of claimants have accessed our systems without any problems, we do understand some individuals have had technical difficulties. These tools are developed to connect users to our tech team who will contact claimants directly to resolve issues such as incorrect passwords, locked accounts or errors with authentication codes.”
Claimants who previously experienced technical problems that are not yet resolved are encouraged to go back into the system to report the issues to the technical team so that the issue will be expedited for resolution.
The fastest and easiest way to file an unemployment claim is online at Michigan.gov/UIA where the application process takes around 25 minutes. Between 90-95 percent of all claims are filed online.
Claimants experiencing MILogin and MiWAM issues will be able to submit their online technical support request to a member of the technical team, comprised of Department of Technology, Management and Budget and UIA staff. Within a week, it’s expected that the equivalent of around 100 full-time employees will be dedicated to this effort.
Online filing schedule at http://www.Michigan.gov/UIA
Customers are encouraged to use off-peak times 8 p.m. – 8 a.m.
Last names beginning with letters A-L: file claims on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays.
Last names beginning with letters M-Z: file claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.
Customers who have access to a computer or mobile device are encouraged to only use the phone line for issues they are unable to complete online.
Last names beginning with letters A-L: call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Last names beginning with letters M-Z: call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Fridays between 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturdays between 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. are open for anyone who could not file during their allotted days.
Self-employed, other newly eligible workers can apply for unemployment on Monday, $600 federal payments also begin
Michigan’s self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors and low-wage workers affected by COVID-19 can apply for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) beginning Monday, April 13 at 8AM. Under the federal CARES Act, workers on state unemployment have already begun receiving the set $600 federal weekly payment in addition to their state benefit amount. Michigan is one of the first states to begin sending the $600 payment.
“Ensuring Michiganders have access to state and federal benefits during this pandemic is a critical part in protecting everyone’s health and safety,” Governor Whitmer said. “We will do everything we can to continue providing emergency financial assistance as quickly as possible to the Michigan working families who have lost income as a result of COVID-19.”
Newly eligible workers who have yet to apply for unemployment benefits
Self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors and low-wage workers can apply for federal benefits beginning Monday, April 13 at 8AM online at Michigan.gov/UIA. Online is the fastest and easiest way to access these benefits. Workers need to use the UIA’s daily filing schedule based on their last names which can be found below. For example, last names beginning with letters A-L should start filing claims Monday.
Newly eligible workers who have been previously denied benefits
Self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors and low-wage workers who have previously applied for unemployment benefits and have been denied should login to their MiWAM account to complete the next steps for PUA federal benefits. These steps will also be emailed to workers. They should not file a new claim, as that may delay the time it takes to get their benefits.
All newly eligible workers will need to provide proof of income to receive the maximum amount they are entitled. This could include W-2s, 1099 tax forms, and pay stubs. These workers will begin receiving federal benefits as early as April 20 after their bi-weekly certification. Individuals on paid sick leave or other paid leave – and those who have the ability to telework with pay – are not eligible for PUA.
“We’re committed to making sure everyone who is eligible for unemployment assistance receives their benefits as quickly as possible,” Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio said. “Michigan is one of the first states to begin sending the additional $600 benefit to workers and our dedicated Unemployment Insurance Agency team is working tirelessly to provide emergency benefits during this crisis.”
$600 federal payments for workers already receiving state benefits
Workers already collecting state unemployment benefits have begun receiving the $600 federal set amount in addition to up to $362 they were previously eligible for. These payments are disbursed at the same time as their state benefits through direct deposit or debit card after their bi-weekly certification.
$600 federal payments for newly eligible workers
Eligible self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors, and low-wage workers will begin receiving their state benefit amount (paid with federal funds) and the $600 federal payment as early as April 20.
All eligible workers will receive benefits
The UIA assures every eligible worker in Michigan who applies for unemployment benefits that they will receive them. The UIA will be accepting claims and benefit applications back-dated to reflect the date on which the claimant was laid-off due to COVID-19, beyond the previously established 28-day period ($600 federal payment is only retroactive back to March 28).
The latest U.S. Dept of Labor report shows that since March 15, more than 800,000 Michigan workers filed for unemployment, a more than 5,000 percent increase over a three-week period. Michigan has seen a record number of claims for three consecutive weeks.
Online filing schedule at http://www.Michigan.gov/UIA
Michigan’s first COVID-19 alternate care facility to begin accepting patients
The TCF Regional Care Center – Michigan’s first alternate care facility – opens today in Detroit to provide critical care to COVID-19 patients. The alternate care facility will accept up to 25 patients today, April 10, with staffing resources coming on board in the coming days to be able to care for 250 patients by the end of next week. Led by The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, the 350,000 square foot conversion of the TCF convention center into a medical facility took nine days.
“Michigan is the state where innovation meets hard work, and the incredible efforts of all those involved to get this medical facility operational in under two weeks – from every level of government to health systems and partners all across Detroit – prove that once again,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “The TCF Regional Care Center will save lives and ensure those suffering some of the worst cases of COVID-19 get the critical care they need as cases in the state continue to grow.”
The TCF Regional Care Center, which includes a triage area, patient support services, staff changing areas, a pharmacy, administrative space and a command center will accommodate 970 bed spaces across two floors for COVID-19 patients. Members of the Michigan National Guard have been assisting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with logistics support to establish the alternative care facility at TCF.
A partnership of health care providers – including Henry Ford Health System, McLaren Health Care, Beaumont Health and the Detroit Medical Center – is providing critical support, staffing and resources at the TCF Regional Care Center. The facility will receive patients from other southeast Michigan acute-care hospitals at least 48 hours after having been admitted as an inpatient at one of those acute-care facilities. The TCF Regional Care Center will not accept patients by ambulance or walk-up, and it will not have an intensive care unit area or provide care to patients who need ventilation.
“Southeast Michigan hospitals have been overwhelmed with the large number of COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “Expanding bed capacity will support our hospitals in managing the large influx of patients and making sure people are getting the best care possible.”
Initial staffing of the alternate care facility will be provided by a FEMA public health team, with additional waves of contracted teams getting on site over the next week. There is a need for both paid medical professionals and volunteers at TCF Regional Care Center as the facility continues to prepare for additional patients.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is calling on health care professionals to apply for paid positions at TCF Regional Care Center, another alternate care facility that will open at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, and other locations that may begin operating as alternate care facilities. Positions are available for physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, and a variety of other medical, administrative assistant and security positions. Applicants for paid positions can fill out an online form to be contacted with details about specific needs, pay rates and shifts.
Medical professionals – including retired physicians and nurses – who are interested in volunteering at an alternate medical care facilities can register at www.michigan.gov/covid19volunteer.