Shutdown: State says benefit programs ongoing through February

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Michigan residents still can apply for and receive Medicaid and public assistance benefits such as food and cash assistance; Women, Infants and Children (WIC); State Emergency Relief and child care reimbursement despite the partial federal government shutdown.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is clarifying the status of the programs, which receive federal dollars but are administered by MDHHS.

The state has determined there will be no impact to the availability of benefits through these programs in February even if the shutdown continues. There has been no official determination made on March benefits.

“The partial federal government shutdown has understandably created concerns from families that rely on federal safety net assistance administered by MDHHS,” said Terrence Beurer, deputy director of Field Operations Administration for MDHHS. “Programs that feed Michigan residents are a primary concern of the State of Michigan, and we have heard misinformation being spread about the immediate impact of the shutdown. We want people to know that MDHHS is prepared to continue to provide this assistance and that funding remains in place through the end of February.”

Below are updates on the status of various federally funded programs administered by MDHHS:

• Food Assistance Program: MDHHS issued February food assistance payments early beginning on Jan. 17. The federal government asked states to issue the assistance early to ensure that February funding would be available to be issued. Recipients do not need to redeem their benefits in January and MDHHS is urging them to budget their food assistance benefits so they can meet their food needs through the entire month of February.

• WIC: Benefits, which include nutritious food for pregnant and postpartum women, infants and children up to age 5, are funded for the month of February and are being distributed according to the normal schedule.

• Medical assistance, including Medicaid and Healthy Michigan Plan: Programs are funded through Sept. 30, 2019, the end of the current fiscal year.

• Cash assistance: Funding is in place for January and February.

• State Emergency Relief: Funding for energy-related services such as heating assistance is in place to provide benefits through Sept. 30, 2019. Funding for non-energy-related services – such as home repairs and burials – is in place for January and February.

• Child Development and Care (child care assistance): Funding is in place through the end of April.

Clients who use Bridge Cards to redeem their food and cash assistance and WIC benefits are still able to do so in January and February.

State government generally can operate seamlessly for about 45 days after a federal shutdown begins. With the shutdown now beyond 30 days, the State Budget Office, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office and MDHHS are assessing the impact beyond 45 days and into March. Further information will be released as it becomes available.

Anyone who has questions about all programs above other than WIC can find contact information for their local MDHHS office by going to www.michigan.gov/contactmdhhs. Anyone with questions about WIC can find contact information for their local WIC agency by going to www.michigan.gov/wic.

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