Push renewed for police, deputy survivor benefits

Capital News Service
LANSING – On Oct. 9, 2003, Clare County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Sherwood died in the line of duty, leaving a wife and three daughters. Sherwood was on U.S. 127 when a car driving the wrong way struck his cruiser, killing both drivers. The Army veteran had served with the sheriff’s department for nine years. His family soon learned that the benefits they’d received through his job ended with his death, leaving them in a tough spot emotionally and financially.

Veterans need help getting more benefits, advocates say

Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan ranks last among the 50 states on veteran’s funding per capita, according to a federal report. Veterans in the state received $2.2 billion in veterans funding, for an average of $3,409 per capita in 2010, while the national average was $4,894 per capita. The state also ranks below in per veteran expenditures for compensation and pensions, education, vocational rehabilitation and medical care. However, some experts view the ranking differently. James Topps, the director of the American Legion Department of Michigan, questioned the federal figures and said the state actually ranks 14th.

More Michiganders lack employers health insurance benefits

Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan has suffered a greater decline in employer-based health insurance than any other state, according to new Census data, and hospitals, public health agencies and free clinics are seeking ways to compensate. The report showed that only 61.5 percent of the state’s population received employer-sponsored health care benefits in 2011, a notable reduction from 76.9 percent in 2001. Southeast Michigan is the region with the most uninsured residents, but counties in the northern and northwestern parts of the state have the greatest proportions of their populations dependent on Medicaid, according to the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. A number of factors contributed to the decline, including increased poverty and unemployment, an aging population and the loss or reduction of benefits from part-time employers, according to experts. The Michigan League for Human Services says that policymakers are also to blame.

Health benefits combined for the older low income

Capital News Service
LANSING – Although the state could move dual-eligible Medicare and Medicaid individuals into a new system, most beneficiaries don’t realize the upcoming changes to their benefits, according to a new survey. Michigan is one of 15 states awarded a contract to develop an integrated plan that offers both high-quality and cost-effective care. Medicare provides health benefits to people older than 65, and Medicaid benefits are for low-income residents. People who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid benefits are called “dual eligible,” according to the Department of Community Health. If fully implemented, the program as proposed would integrate services and funding for more than 200,000 state residents enrolled in both programs, which cost the state and federal governments more than $8 billion annually, according to the department.