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Children’s Special Health Care Services processing enrollments for newly eligible population

The department assists families with children who have complex or chronic health conditions.
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The department assists families with children who have complex or chronic health conditions.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is currently processing enrollments for expanded eligibility for its Children’s Special Health Care Services program.

The program assists families with children and young adults up to age 26 with chronic or complex health conditions such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, sickle cell disorders, and 2,700 more physical conditions.

Lonnie Barnett, the director of the program, said, “Extending the program to age 26 allows us to continue supporting those families as they transition from the pediatric health care system to the adult health care system for their child with special health care needs.”

Barnett said the expansion has already had a positive impact on participating families. Families with young adults who previously aged out of the program now have care coordination assistance, nurses, and other staff from local public health departments available to them again. For those who have lost coverage because of their age and for those now turning 21, they're able to continue without a lapse in coverage until age 26. Barnett said this also supports families with assistance with medical bills that they acquire as a result of having a child or young adult with significant medical needs.

This expansion became possible due to a fiscal year 2023-24 budget recommendation by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, which was approved by the Michigan Legislature. It took effect on October 1, 2023. Enrollment started on January 2, 2024.

The state health department said an additional 9,000 individuals are expected to be covered because of this expansion.

“We can go back to the first of October if the young adult was medically eligible on October 1st, we would retro the coverage back to that date,” explained Barnett.

The state health department said if you think you or your child may be eligible, you can contact your local health department to apply for coverage.

*Correction: An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that the expansion took effect October 2024. It went into effect October 2023.

Zena is a senior at the University of Michigan with aspirations of becoming a broadcast journalist. She is interning in the Michigan Public newsroom.
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