April 2, 2021
With warmer weather on the way and increasing numbers of people getting vaccinated against COVID-19, it can be tempting to let go of all the work that has brought us to this point, when we are so close to seeing the light at the end of this long, pandemic tunnel.
However, even after you’ve been vaccinated, it is important that we don’t let our guard down. Please continue to wear masks, social distance, wash your hands, and do what you can to slow the spread of this virus, especially as positive cases for the virus’s more dangerous variants increase, too. We have come too far, and have worked too hard, to change course now.
REMEMBER! Beginning Monday, April 5, all persons aged 16 and older, regardless of health status, will become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please do your due diligence to try to schedule an appointment with a provider as soon as possible, as supplies of vaccines are still coming in limited quantities.
For more information on COVID-19 cases and vaccines, I encourage you to visit my Facebook page, where I provide updates every Friday.
There is also an excellent article by Crain’s Detroit that provides information on who is administering vaccines and where you can check to get yours, and they have taken the paywall down to make this information accessible for everyone.
In the meantime, if there is ever anything my office can help you with, please reach out. You can call (517) 373-2417 or email us at SenRBayer@senate.michigan.gov.
The gender pay gap in Michigan is worse than the national rate, and we’ve had enough of it. According to a report from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget (DTMB), the nationwide pay gap was 18%, with women earning 82 cents for every dollar men earn, on average. But in Michigan, that gap was wider, with a 22% difference, or women earning 78 cents on the dollar.
And unfortunately, the gaps are wider among minority communities, with Black women earning 65 cents and Hispanic/Latina women earning 57 cents on the dollar, according to the DTMB report.
That’s why I recently joined some of my Democratic colleagues in the state House, as well as others who are a part of the Progressive Women’s Caucus, for a press conference to discuss vital legislation to address income inequity. If passed and signed into law, the 12-bill package would position Michigan as one the most equitable states in the country for working women.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many families, especially those who have lost a loved one during this tumultuous time. Fortunately, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is extending its mission of helping people before, during and after disasters to the pandemic by offering financial assistance for funerals to those who qualify.
This assistance is made possible by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, as well as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and applies to COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.
To qualify, all the following criteria must be met:
For more information on how to apply for assistance, visit FEMA’s website dedicated to this effort. FEMA will begin to implement COVID-19 funeral assistance in April.
Students who want to be given priority consideration for state of Michigan financial aid programs now have some extra time to complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.
This application is a critical step when applying for grants, scholarships and other forms of financial assistance. Academic Year 2021-22 FAFSA submissions now received at the federal processor on or before May 1 — rather than the original March 1 deadline — are given priority consideration for the Michigan Competitive Scholarship and Michigan Tuition Grant.
Students who wait to complete their FAFSA after the new May 1 deadline may not receive all the financial aid they could have been entitled to receive.
Prior to completing the FAFSA online, the student and at least one parent or guardian must obtain a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) at FAFSA.gov. This ID serves as a legal signature and confirms an applicant’s identity when accessing financial aid information through certain U.S. Department of Education websites.
To get started with the FAFSA, go to FAFSA.gov. To learn more about State of Michigan scholarships and grant programs, visit MI Student Aid’s website at Michigan.gov/MIStudentAid.
The Biden administration has extended the current Health Insurance Marketplace special enrollment period through August 15. This decision, along with the increased subsidies included in the American Rescue Plan, will make Marketplace health coverage more affordable and more accessible for Michiganders struggling with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Health Insurance Marketplace and application process, available at HealthCare.gov, will be updated on April 1 to reflect both the extended special enrollment period and the newly expanded tax credits from the American Rescue Plan. Michiganders who need new Marketplace health coverage should:
Consumers who already have a Marketplace plan are strongly encouraged to log on to the Marketplace and resubmit their application after April 1 to take immediate advantage of the higher subsidies offered under the American Rescue Plan.
Individuals who choose not to revisit their application after April 1 must wait until they file their 2021 tax returns in 2022 to get the tax credits for which they qualify, meaning they will not be able to lower their monthly health coverage premiums this year. Consumers should also know that selecting a new plan under this extended special enrollment period may trigger a reset of their annual deductible for 2021.
The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services can help consumers with health insurance questions and complaints and can provide information about the Health Insurance Marketplace Special Enrollment Period that is now open through August 15.
For more information, including a schedule of upcoming DIFS and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) virtual health insurance town halls, consumers should visit Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance or call 877-999-6442, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
I am hosting three events in the month of April to connect with constituents. As the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, these events will continue to be virtual. For more information, including how to register, please visit my Facebook page (you don’t need to have a Facebook account!) and click on “Events,” or visit my website.
Friday, April 9 at 11:00 a.m.
Zoom Coffee Hour
Monday, April 19 at 5:30 p.m.
Virtual Community Conversation with Rep. Mari Manoogian
Monday, April 26 at 5:30 p.m.
Coffee, Computers and Conversation on Facebook Live!
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