By CELESTE BOTT
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.