News and Updates

PHE Update for Members: Be Prepared

Effective Thursday, October 13, HHS renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration for another 90 days. The extension means that states must continue to maintain continuous coverage for Medicaid beneficiaries as a condition of receiving enhanced federal Medicaid funding. Medicare telehealth flexibilities continue as well. Health centers should post flyers in the waiting and patient rooms (and in the pharmacy) and continue to remind patients to update their MI Bridges information.
It is important to have a PHE unwinding action plan to reduce eligible Medicaid beneficiaries losing their coverage. Many Medicaid beneficiaries have not completed a Medicaid redetermination in the past two years due to COVID-19. Once the PHE ends, all Medicaid beneficiaries will need to complete and submit a redetermination packet. It is crucial that patients have the correct contact information in MI Bridges to receive the redetermination packet. Health centers can conduct outreach now to give patients time to update their information and reach out for any support.
MPCA has created a PHE Unwinding Action Plan Template for Health Centers that includes guidance on staff readiness, outreach strategies, and messaging. The following messaging can be shared with patients upon check-in, when picking up their medications, during their scheduled appointment, in text blasts, or through other communication channels: “MDHHS will start Medicaid and CHIP eligibility renewals again which you will receive in the mail. If you do not complete your renewal, you or a family member could be disenrolled from Medicaid or CHIP which could cause an increase in your medical expenses. Here is what you can do to prepare. If you moved or if any of your contact information like your phone number or email address has changed, update your MI Bridges account to make sure you get important information about your Medicaid coverage. I can connect you with our enrollment specialist if you need help.”

Please see the toolkit and the PHE Unwinding SharePoint for more information and outreach materials (including Luma/Text messaging outreach here).

HRSA Health Center Program Bulletin

Recently, HRSA made up to $25 million available for HRSA-funded health centers to increase equitable access to maternal health care in underserved communities. Award recipients will develop and pilot innovative models of care delivery to improve health outcomes and address clinical and health-related social needs for patients at the highest risk of maternal morbidity and mortality. This funding will advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis by ensuring better access to comprehensive, coordinated health care, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.

These awards will be made through HRSA’s Quality Improvement Fund (QIF), which supports primary care innovation. The QIF allows health centers to propose and test out new ideas, learn from each other, and identify solutions that can be scaled across the entire Health Center Program. Award recipients will engage patients and communities in their projects to better understand and address challenges that contribute to disparities in maternal care and health outcomes. 

Applications from HRSA-funded health centers are due in by 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, December 5, and in HRSA’s Electronic Handbooks on by 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, January 13, 2023. Visit HRSA’s fiscal year 2023 Quality Improvement Fund-Maternal Health webpage for the notice of funding opportunity, technical assistance (TA) information, and other resources. Join the QIF-Maternal Health applicant TA session:

Tuesday, November 1
3:00-4:00 p.m. ET
Join the day of the session
If you prefer to join by phone: 833.568.8864; Webinar ID: 160 401 5570

Integrated Behavioral Health Update
Integrated behavioral health implementation has never been a one size fits all for Michigan health centers. How can we measure integration, its value, and improvement in outcomes when each health center operates differently, along with creating standards of integrated care with our health centers? Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA) is working to support our health centers in sustaining integration at any level.
MPCA has started an Integrated Health Workgroup, meeting monthly to address health center best practices in integrated health care. The goal of this workgroup is to develop a set of best practices based on evidence-based framework and current integrated health practice for Michigan health centers. The first project with our workgroup includes an Integrated Health Assessment.
What is the Integrated Health Assessment? 
The assessment is a comprehensive strengths-based, information integration tool developed for use in the MPCA Integrated Health Workgroup. 
The purpose of this assessment is to help convey the status of integratedness (progress in organizing delivery of integrated services) in health centers and support communication and implementation progress across peer health centers and the MPCA. 
The assessment is used to: 
  • Collect information related to the strengths and needs of Michigan Health Centers 
  • Collect information to direct the integrated health priorities of health centers 
  • Support effective implementation of integrated health domains 
  • Support collective decision-making and implementation planning across the workgroup 
  • Promote quality of services across health centers 
  • Promote implementation of value-based care 
The assessment will be available to health centers this November. The assessment will consider the interdisciplinary staff of a health center involved in team-based care. MPCA will generate a summary report for each health center that participates on the current level of integration assessment and give recommendations to any process improvements that enhance overall standards of care. We also will offer technical assistance and trainings based on assessment findings.
If your center is interested in taking part in the Integrated Health Assessment, or you have questions, please email Janelle Murray, MPCA's Associate Director of Integrated Health.

Health Leaders Hold Roundtable Discussion in Detroit

Last month, 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. Facebook Photo Gallery by CHASS Center

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

NACHC Co-Hosting Latest Eyes on Access Virtual Event
Explore the feasibility of opening an optometry department within a community health center.

Join NACHC and co-hosts Prevent Blindness and the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved Wednesday, November 2, from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. for our latest Eyes on Access webinar "We've Decided to Offer Vision Services in Our Health Center, Now What?" Register
This new webinar provides a deeper dive into the feasibility of opening an optometry department within a community health center. You will discover what it takes to create a vision services line,  develop and implement a budget, identify best practices for hiring and staffing, and hear how your peers overcame challenges in starting up vision services in their own health centers. Learn More
Learning Objectives & Pre-Reading
By the end of this webinar, participants will be able to:
1. Raise awareness of the feasibility of opening an optometry department within community health centers, creation of an optical center, and hiring/staffing needs.
2. Build skills in operationalizing the integration of vision services into health centers.
3. Learn from peers how to overcome challenges in the process of integrating vision services into health centers.
Recommended pre-reading/pre-viewing includes the Spring 2022 two-part webinar series "Eyes on Access" which can be found on the Health Center Resource Clearinghouse or on the HealthCenterInfo website.

For questions or comments, contact or call 301.347.0400.

MPCA Live Monthly Updates Continues

MPCA Live Monthly Updates are back! Our real-time updates continue this month on Wednesday, November 2 at noon.

MPCA is bringing your monthly download of need-to-know updates and information every first Wednesday of the month covering a breadth of timely topics for health centers, including the latest on the evolving public health emergencies for COVID-19 and Monkeypox virus.

If you don’t have the Live Monthly Update for this month on your calendar, you can re-register here to add it.

Michigan’s 2021 Annual Report on Ending Homelessness is Now Available
The Michigan Campaign to End Homelessness is excited to announce that the 2021 annual report on ending homelessness is now available and full of important updates the MPCA would like to share with members!

Key findings from the report include:
  • There was a 2 percent decrease in the number of people who experienced homelessness from 2020-21
  • There was a 44 percent decline in the number of evictions between 2019-21
    • Eviction moratoriums existed throughout the year and the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance program (CERA) began in March 2021
  • Michigan 2-1-1 saw a 30 percent increase in housing related calls from 2020-2021
  • Black households are 3.6 times more likely to experience homelessness when compared to the broader Census demographics and 4 times more likely to fall back into homelessness after exiting the system to permanent housing 
  • 37 percent of homeless mothers reported experiencing physical or sexual assault
  • Lastly, requests for individuals seeking referrals to housing and legal assistance resources increased by 35 percent, when compared to the previous year (2020 in 1,416 and 2021 in 1,916)
    • Most legal assistance inquiries were related to eviction proceedings and tenants’ rights.
You can find the full report here.

MPCA's Misty Davis Pens Op-Ed for Detroit News Publication

Dental Therapists Broaden Access to Care 

If you’ve ever had a toothache, you know how hard it can be to eat, sleep, work or go to school until you’ve received dental care.

For many Michiganders, dental care is inaccessible, as 1.5 million residents live in areas with a shortage of dentists. Even in areas that have enough dentists, patients may struggle to find one who accepts their insurance.

Due to intense competition for dental staff, which has been magnified by the exodus of providers that persists in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, our dental clinics are overwhelmed and understaffed. Many clinics report months-long wait lists for appointments and have patients driving hours to access oral health care.

Now the good news: Michigan has authorized a new type of dental provider, the dental therapist.

While this profession may be unfamiliar to many, it has the potential to play a significant role in reducing barriers to oral health care for those who need it the most.

Dental therapists are licensed oral health professionals who work under the supervision of dentists to provide commonly needed care like exams, cleanings, sealants and fillings. They can work remotely, bringing care directly to people where they are, whether that’s in schools, hospitals, nursing homes or rural communities.

The next step to getting dental therapists into Michigan’s community health centers and dental offices is to implement education programs. Several colleges and universities in our state are excited about developing education programs. But with their limited budgets already stretched by inflation, they could use some support with start-up costs.

Costs involved with launching a dental therapy program may include structural changes to on- campus clinics, establishing partnerships with community health centers and expanding their capacity to precept students, costs associated with accreditation, and supporting the establishment of program coordinators, directors and educators.

Meanwhile, a new federal report has concluded that dental therapy provides “clear benefits” to communities, and is calling on Congress and the Biden administration to implement policies that will help grow dental therapy in Michigan and nationwide.

The report found that adding dental therapists to dental teams resulted in more people getting care and reduced wait and travel times for appointments, and resulted in a workforce more representative of the community it serves. It recommends the federal government support education programs for dental therapists both by dedicating funding specifically to them and by making dental therapy education programs eligible for existing oral health workforce programs. The report also encourages federal policymakers to support dental therapists through scholarships and loan repayment programs.

By implementing these recommendations, federal policymakers could help states like Michigan grow their oral health workforces, creating both better access to care for patients and well-paying jobs for new providers within underserved communities.

Another opportunity in front of Congress to support Michigan’s oral health workforce pipeline are the spending bills before the House and Senate that would remove the long-standing prohibition on a dental workforce program that was written into the Affordable Care Act.

This program would award 15 grants of at least $4 million to support the development of new provider types such as dental therapists. Since the program was passed, special interest groups have lobbied to block the funding, effectively preventing it from reaching colleges and universities.

Michigan is one of 11 states with dental therapy legislation but no dental therapy education programs. Removing this funding block would allow federal dollars to flow into colleges and universities interested in developing dental therapy programs in Michigan and beyond, and full implementation of the profession could finally be realized in dental therapy states.

--Misty Davis, a registered dental hygienist, is the oral health program manager at the Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA).

MPCA Fall Clinical Conference in Review
The clinical services and quality staff at the Michigan Primary Care Association extends a big thank you to all attendees, sponsors, and speakers for their support at the MPCA Fall Clinical Conference last month. Special thanks to Diamond Sponsor Quest Diagnostics and event sponsor Forensic Fluids as well as exhibitors GSK, Merck and CareMINDr.

We had two great programming days, full of sessions on population health and care management. We enjoyed the opportunity to hear from Dr. Shannon McDevitt from HRSA, Azara, and the National Kidney Foundation to name a few.

This year, there was a lot of focus on learning and networking with health center peers. Many health centers presented during sessions including the care management panel, discussing provider burnout, and providing tools for and successes with mobile medicine.

Facebook Photo Gallery

MPCA Workforce Update for November

Medical and Dental Assistant Training Program Update
MPCA’s Medical and Dental Assistant Training Program is off to a great start, and we’d love to have your health center join us! All participating health centers receive funding that supports tuition, wages and supplies. This program is a great opportunity to offer professional development to existing staff, or to recruit and retain new medical and dental assistants. For questions on how to participate, please email Rachel Ruddock.

Announcement for CAHC-SWP Planning Grants

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to plan for new centers through expansion of the Child and Adolescent Health Center program’s school-based or school-linked health services. The models funded through this grant include planning for a Child and Adolescent Health Center (CAHC) and School Wellness program (SWP).

For more information or to apply, visit the EGrAMS website and select "About EGrAMS" link in the left panel to access the "Competitive Application Instructions" training manual. The complete RFP can be accessed under the ‘Current Grants’ section under the “Public Health Administration” link and selecting the “CAHPP-2023” grant program.

A pre-application conference will be held on Friday, Nov. 4, at 1 p.m. to discuss this funding opportunity and provide instruction on using the EGrAMS system. The conference can be accessed at

Grant applications are due by December 15.

Gov. Whitmer, MDHHS Seek Approval to Expand Access to Free Family Planning Services

Recently, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced they are seeking approval for an initiative called “Plan First!” that would expand access to family planning services. Getting this done would offer 25,000 Michiganders free contraception, cancer screenings, STI/STD testing, and more, saving them up to $2,000 a year. 

“All women and families should have the resources they need to decide when and if they want to start a family,” said Governor Whitmer. “Expanding access to family planning coverage through Plan First! to 25,000 Michiganders would protect bodily autonomy and strengthen reproductive freedom and save people up to $2,000 a year. The services would be wide-ranging, from birth control and cancer screenings to STI screenings and diagnostic services. As some extreme politicians try to take away access to reproductive health care, I will keep working to protect and expand it. These services are critical to help people live and plan their lives, and I will keep fighting like hell to ensure Michiganders have reproductive freedom and quality, affordable health care.” 
“Family planning contributes to improved health outcomes for infants, children, women, and families,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “For many women, it is their entry point into the health care system. Plan First! is another important step in our efforts to increase access to health care coverage.” 
Plan First! Background 
The Plan First! family planning program would allow more women and families to gain access to high quality reproductive health care, including birth control at low or no cost. Family planning is a public health service that allows women and couples to have healthier pregnancies, to help time and space births, and achieve desired family size. 
Currently, women in Michigan can access low or no-cost family planning services through Michigan's Family Planning Program and through the Healthy Michigan Plan, the state's expanded Medicaid program. However, approximately 25,000 Michiganders do not qualify under the income eligibility for Healthy Michigan or traditional Medicaid but have incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level, currently $36,620 annually for a household of two. 
MDHHS is seeking approval from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide family planning coverage to those 25,000 Michiganders by pursuing an amendment to its Medicaid State Plan, saving them up to $2,000 a year. 
Plan First saves 25,000 Michiganders $2,000 a year and offers: 
  • Initial and annual physical exams relating to reproductive health and family planning options, including patient education and counseling. 
  • Breast and cervical cancer screenings. 
  • Sexually transmitted infections and HIV screening and testing. 
  • Sterilization services. 
  • Family-planning-related laboratory services.  
  • Medical, diagnostic and treatment services that are determined to be necessary during a family planning visit, such as treatment for sexually transmitted infections or diseases or cervical cancer vaccinations. 
Expanding coverage for family planning services extends the reach of Governor Whitmer’s efforts to strengthen contraception access in Michigan, building upon a recent Medicaid policy establishing coverage of a 12-month supply of birth control.  
Michigan has a long history of quality family planning services and offered Plan First! family planning prior to 2016. The new Plan First! Family Planning Policy, if approved, is expected to take effect in spring 2023. Details will be provided at that time about how to apply.  

InterCare Graduates First Class of New Medical Assistants

InterCare Community Health Network this fall celebrated the graduation of its first class of medical assistant (MA) apprentices with a graduation ceremony. The eight graduates will soon be completing a 12-month program that combines paid on-the-job training with online classes, and are ready to take the certifying exam to earn the title of Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA).

The graduates are Brielle Gibson, Daisy Mireles, Maria Palacios, Brenda Parada, Quenetta Parker, Tammicia Reid, Krissy Thomas and Ana Vazquez.

Medical assistants are skilled healthcare professionals who help medical providers (doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants) in clinics. They take vital signs, draw, and prepare blood samples, perform EKGs, assist providers with procedures, enter data in the patient’s medical record and have other duties. Once they pass the certification exam, the new medical assistants will work in one of InterCare’s clinics in Bangor, Benton Harbor, Eau Claire, Holland, or Pullman.

The MA Apprentice program offers training for well-paid jobs, fills needed positions in the clinics and provides opportunities for InterCare employees and community members to advance their careers. “We’re proud of our graduates and we’re excited to celebrate them,” said Velma Hendershott, InterCare’s President and CEO. “Their growth and new contributions will help us on our mission to improve the health of our communities.”

The Medical Assistant Apprenticeship program was developed in partnership with the Glocal Institute. Other educational initiatives at InterCare include a Dental Assistant Apprenticeship program and a partnership with A.T. Still University for physician assistant clinical rotations.

MPCA's FQHC Discussion Hours Series Resumes in December 

The Michigan Primary Care Association is pleased to continue its ongoing series of dedicated Federally Qualified Health Centers and Medicaid Alternative Payment Model (APM) learning and discussion hours. 
These sessions are open to anyone in health centers wanting to stay in touch on APM efforts, receive a deeper set of ongoing updates, ask questions and share feedback. Our last scheduled bi-monthly session for the 2022 calendar year is December 1 from noon to 1 p.m.
We’ll plan to continue these in 2023 and will ask participants about frequency, length, and day/timing as those are scheduled.
You can register for the series here.
For questions, email Honor Childress, Senior Director of Health Center Finance.

MDHHS Advises Awareness of Adverse Manifestation of Syphilis
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan has seen an uptick in cases of syphilis presenting with uncommon symptoms. The symptoms include:

  • Abnormal walk (gait) or unable to walk
  • Numbness in the toes, feet or legs
  • Problems with thinking, such as confusion or poor concentration
  • Mental problems, such as depression or irritability
  • Headache, seizures or stiff neck
  • Hearing loss
  • Ringing or buzzing in your ears (tinnitus)
  • Vertigo
  • Eye pain
  • Floaters in the eyes
  • Vision changes
  • Blurry vision
  • Flashing lights
  • Uveitis
  • Retinal detachment
  • Retinitis/chorioretinitis
  • Scleritis/keratitis

If a patient presents to MPCA health centers with any of the above symptoms, please have the patient tested for syphilis including a CSF-VDRL.

If you have any questions, please reach out to the MDHHS STD Statewide Provider Liaison, Karen Lightheart; phone 313.446.8943.

Tobacco and Mental Health/Substance Use Training Support Series Continues

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) and National Council for Mental Wellbeing partnership on the Tobacco and Mental Health/Substance Use Training Support Series continues. This training series will support the MDHHS Action Plan efforts and aid the efforts of the Michigan Tobacco Wellness Committee.

The Michigan Tobacco Wellness Committee is a collaboration of the MDHHS and tobacco, mental health, and substance use providers and stakeholders in the state, focusing on reducing tobacco use and improving tobacco control practices and policies to address disparities, especially for MH/SU populations.

Training occurs every month from noon to 2 p.m. until December 13. Next up is Thursday, November 17, as this session will cover Motivational Interviewing for Tobacco Cessation by speaker Pam Pietruszewski, a senior advisor for the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

Click here to learn more and register!

EJFHC's Rachel Krino Named to Watch List

Rachel Krino, the marketing and outreach director for MPCA-member Bellaire and East Jordan Family Health Centers, has been named to the Traverse City Record-Eagle newspaper's list of Influential Women of Northern Michigan.
“I am honored to be featured in Record Eagle’s Influential Women of Northern Michigan," Krino said. "I'm passionate about helping communities have a voice and to come together to help one another. (But) my contribution isn’t about recognition or awards, but rather finding fulfillment in helping where it is needed. Together, we build healthy, happy communities.”
Krino was nominated by community member and health center board member, Patti Savant.
Full Story of "Influential Women of Northern Michigan." Her section can be found on page G-28.

MPCA's Manager Training Skill-Building for Members

The Michigan Primary Care Association is conducting virtual skill-building trainings for health center managers and supervisors. Registration for the Beyond Core Competencies: Next Level Skills for Health Center Managers and Supervisors series is open now!
MPCA & SOGENCE are pleased to present these highly interactive programs (Succeed: Crucial Skill Building for Health Center Managers kicked off last month) designed to build and strengthen core skills and knowledge and progress beyond core competencies for success as a manager or supervisor in today’s health center environment.
Please download our informational flyer for the complete details and registration links.
Thank you for your participation!

New Grants Available to Help FQHCs Start or Expand Vision Services

The Michigan Primary Care Association encourages interested member health centers to act on a call for applications for this funding opportunity.

The Association of Clinicians for the Underserved with the generous support of the Centene Corporation is now accepting applications from federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and look-alikes for $25,000 grants to help start or expand permanent and comprehensive eye health and vision care programs.

Vision loss causes substantial social and economic tolls, and eye health is critical to patients' overall health. However, many individuals in medically underserved areas face significant barriers to accessing eye health and vision care. Health centers are ideally suited to help patients access these vital services due to their focus on integrated care, but many organizations lack the resources to provide these services.

Since 2018, ACU has assisted 24 health centers in establishing and expanding permanent eye health and vision care programs. Descriptions of many of these programs are available on ACU's website. This year, we are excited to award up to five health centers with these new grants. Each organization will receive:
  • $25,000 for the start-up or expansion of permanent and comprehensive eye health and vision care programs.
  • Direct training and technical assistance from members of ACU's Vision Services Committee and other subject matter experts.
Flyers to promote a patient-story program: each participating patient will receive a $100 gift card. APPLY NOW!

Interested in learning more? Read the ACU flyer for more details and grant requirements. Applications are due by December 31.

Federal Funding for Rural Telemedicine

Rural hospitals and clinics fill a life-saving role to thousands of communities across the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that in 2020 46 million people resided in non-urban areas of the country. This is believed to have increased recently due to the migration of urban dwellers out of cities due to COVID-19. 

Many rural hospitals and clinics are shutting their doors causing people to travel greater distances for critical health care. In 2019, the Federal Communications Commission reported that 80 rural hospitals had closed their doors during the previous seven years. This is why state and federal programs are important in assisting these facilities in keeping their doors open.

More and more, healthcare is being delivered to rural communities by medical specialists located many miles away in urban locales. This is done through the use of digital applications such as virtual telemedicine visits and physicians’ remote consultations with specialists. These applications utilize large bandwidth data circuits that connect rural areas to larger cities where the specialists reside.

The FCC’s Rural Health Care (RHC) program helps fund these high-cost circuits for health care providers. The RHC program provides support to eligible public and non-profit health care providers (HCPs). Eligible HCPs include any:
  • Not-for-profit hospital
  • Rural health clinic
  • Post-secondary educational institution offering health care instruction, including a teaching hospital or medical school
  • Community health center or health center providing health care to migrants
  • Local health department or agency
  • Community mental health center
  • Skilled nursing facility
The RHC program provides discounts to eligible providers for services such as Internet, data circuits, voice and some equipment like routers and firewalls. It returns 65 percent of the cost of these services and you don’t have to change providers. 

In 1997, the FCC established the program and caped the funding at $400 million annually and has since increased it to $571 million. This money has enabled rural facilities to not only access Internet services but increase the speed of their circuit to better handle the increasing load of data being pushed across their circuits. The RHC program runs from July 1 through next June 30 each cycle year. All applications must be submitted during the filing window that opens December 1 and closes April 1.

Once the applications are approved, the discounts are typically delivered through the service providers as credits on the monthly service invoices.

To learn more about this program and its benefits, visit

Geoff Boggs, President of USF Healthcare Consulting which assists over 1,200 facilities in 36 states, facilitates with the annual RHC program applications. Please contact Geoff via email or call at 502.228.1907 to learn more.

MDHHS Altered MHP Contract Language

Earlier this year, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) made a change to the contract language with the Medicaid Health Plans (MHPs) that allows providers to request a retroactive effective date for network participation.

Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA), in coordination with Michigan Association of Health Plans (MAHP), developed a Michigan MHP Credentialing Reference Guide to have clear instruction on the process. MPCA started working with a group of health centers to pilot the changes from the Michigan MHP Credentialing Reference Guide and will be sharing updates on progress every eight weeks that started with the September update.

A few highlights from that September update include challenges around MHP credentialing staff being notified about the changes to the updated contract language. Additional tools have been identified that will be helpful for health center staff completing credentialing. Also, Meridian has recently changed their credentialing process and we have heard good feedback. Preliminarily this change has shown a promising reduction in the amount of time it takes for Meridian to complete the process. Lastly, there was a recent update to the Michigan MHP Credentialing Reference Guide (details on where to find the updated document can be found with this link).

Over the next 16 weeks, the pilot workgroup will continue to meet and you can expect additional updates at the end of November and January.

Please feel free to reach out to Kelsea Frazier, Finance and Revenue Cycle Specialist, with any questions or concerns.

Oral Health Update

Save the Date
On December 7MPCA, the Michigan Oral Health Coalition, and the CareQuest Institute for Oral Health will partner to hold an in-person event at The Graduate Hotel in East Lansing. This interactive event will explore elements of value-based care, including minimally invasive care, medical-dental integration, community engagement, diagnostic coding, APMs, and optimizing oral health workforce capacity. This event is open to all interested dental professionals for a fee, and it is FREE for health center dental teams and other health center staff and leadership interested in learning.

Upcoming Dental Coding Study Club
A three-part study club will be held November 11, December 2 and December 16 from noon until 1 p.m. for health center staff interested in exploring effective approaches to dental coding, with a special focus on dental diagnostic coding. Bob Russell, DDS, will lead these virtual sessions with a combination of training, interactive case studies and practical applications. Click the dates above to register!

Dental Assistant Training Program
MPCA is celebrating our first cohort of graduates from our dental assistant training program! InterCare Community Health Network has finished training four dental assistants and already has another cohort ready to begin. So far, there are seven Michigan health centers participating in this program with 18 dental assistant trainees currently enrolled. Contact us to participate or for more information!

Proposed Medicaid Sealant Policy Expansion
See this exciting proposed policy change to expand coverage of sealants for Medicaid beneficiaries under age 21 to include primary teeth and permanent premolars! The proposal is open for public comment until November 14.

Dental Therapy Update
The Delta Dental Foundation has approved a $260,000 dental therapy scholarship, to be administered by the MPCA! Michigan’s first dental therapy program is still a couple of years away, and in the meantime, aspiring dental therapists are eying programs in other states. With Michigan’s first dental therapy student currently enrolled in Washington and many more Michigan dental hygienists and assistants eager to enroll in programs, this funding will be instrumental to early dental therapy implementation in our state.

MPCA continues to engage in a nationwide recruitment campaign on behalf of Michigan health centers interested in hiring dental therapists. This is a competitive market, as there are many more jobs available than there are dental therapists in the country. However, there is no better state to move to than Michigan, and the Delta Dental Foundation is offering a $5,000 sign-on bonus to any dental therapist who accepts a position at an MPCA member health center. If you would like to be included in the list of health centers hiring dental therapists, please contact us if you haven’t already!

Gov. Whitmer's Message to Michigan Health Centers

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has a supportive message to state health centers. 

Preparedness Monthly Thought for November
The Michigan Primary Care Association offers up this monthly tip for a simple but effective consideration for emergency preparedness, taken from official government sources, to help put you in a preparedness mindset.

"Preparing For Winter Weather" is the theme for this month. Winter storms create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. Winter storms including blizzards can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice and high winds.

Know your winter weather terms:
  • Winter Storm Warning:  Issued when hazardous winter weather in the form of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet is imminent or occurring. Winter Storm Warnings are usually issued 12 to 24 hours before the event is expected to begin.
  • Winter Storm Watch: Alerts the public to the possibility of a blizzard, heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet. Winter Storm Watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of a Winter Storm.
  • Winter Weather Advisory: Issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and sleet which will cause significant inconveniences and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to life-threatening situations.


Know Your Risk for Winter Storms
Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms. Listen for emergency information and alerts. Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.

Preparing for Winter Weather
Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking and weather stripping. Learn how to keep pipes from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups. Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Remember the needs of your pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights. If you are unable to afford your heating costs, weatherization or energy-related home repairs, contact the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for help.

In Case of Emergency
Be prepared for winter weather at home, at work and in your car. Create an emergency supply kit for your car. Include jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water and non-perishable snacks. Keep a full tank of gas.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Sign up for email updates about coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Learn the symptoms of COVID-19 and follow CDC guidance. If you are able to, set aside items like soap, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, disinfecting wipes, and general household cleaning supplies that you can use to disinfect surfaces you touch regularly.

For more information visit,

Please contact Jeff Jones, MPCA Emergency Preparedness and Operations Specialist, for more information. His phone is 517.381.8002.

AmeriCorps is Recruiting! And We're Looking for You

With Michigan Primary Care Association Interested in being rewarded for your hard work and passion for helping others? The Michigan Primary Care Association's AmeriCorps (HealthCorps) program is looking for members who want to make an impact in the communities they serve!

Members spend their service hours reaching out to individuals in the community that are not receiving primary and preventive services and connect them to care through community health centers. Connecting patients with primary care, including annual primary care visits, chronic disease management visits, or preventive services like immunizations and cancer screenings. Reengaging patients who experienced delayed or disrupted care because of COVID-19 and promoting awareness of COVID-19 precautions and alternative access to care options, such as telehealth and curbside services.

Here's a sampling of benefits: a living allowance, an educational award upon successful completion, health insurance and more.

For more information about the MPCA AmeriCorps (HealthCorps) program, please visit our website and apply today!

Have questions or need more information? Reach out to us! To learn more about benefits, qualifications, service commitments and types of HealthCorps service activities, please email MPCA AmeriCorps Program Director Karen Goucher or phone 517.827.0878. 

MPCA Endorsed Business Partners Directory

The Michigan Primary Care Association is pleased to establish group purchasing arrangements with our endorsed business partners for the benefit of our member health centers. The MPCA is diligent in the vetting process of prospective companies that have the potential to help our members save on operational costs with quality goods and services. Each agreement is reviewed and approved by MPCA’s Budget & Finance Committee and our Board of Directors.

The MPCA's endorsed business partnership program can help members gain exclusive savings on office products, business essentials, technology, medical supplies, cost reduction services and much more.

Please visit the roster of our current business partners including their website, the name of a consultant for each company and their contact information.

UnitedHealthcare is a proud, longtime sponsor of the MPCA Fall Annual Conference. Thank YOU for your support of MPCA! Please visit their website for more information.

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Michigan serves more than 260,000 members throughout Michigan's lower peninsula. The company offers health care coverage to eligible adults and children through Medicaid, the Healthy Michigan Plan, Children's Special Health Care Services and UnitedHealthcare Dual complete.

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan is committed to helping people live healthier lives and helping make the health system work better for everyone within the communities they serve.


A full list of MPCA events can be found here.

Here's our latest events-only newsletter LINK. The next edition will be published near November 15.
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