Michigan Senate Passes Filter First Legislation to Ensure All Kids Have Safe Drinking Water at School & at Child Care Centers
On April 20, the Michigan Senate voted to pass Senate Bills 88 and 89, the Filter First legislation, which would protect children from lead in drinking water at schools and child care centers. These bills are sponsored by Sen. Santana and me.
The bills will require all Michigan child care centers and schools to implement a Drinking Water Management Plan, install filtered bottle-filling stations or filtered faucets on outlets designated for drinking water, and test the filtered water to ensure that the filters are installed and operating properly. The legislation has widespread support from health and environmental experts, and this is a much more cost-effective method than repeatedly testing every outlet or replacing entire plumbing systems.
By getting water filters in schools and child care centers, we can prevent our children from experiencing the detrimental effects of lead poisoning. This legislation fights an issue we are actively facing across Michigan by creating an effective solution to lead poisoning in schools and daycares.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, even low levels of lead in blood can negatively affect children’s intellectual development and academic achievement. The most proactive and protective solution to prevent kids from getting exposed to lead through school and child care drinking water is to place filters at the point of use. Given the amount of time children spend at schools and child care centers, these bills will help keep children safe by installing filtered faucets and water bottle filling stations and installing on-tap filters in sinks where water is used for human consumption, like school kitchens.
On weekends and over breaks, water stagnates in school plumbing systems, which reduces corrosion control measures meant to reduce lead leaching into water. Training for child care staff will be provided, and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy will provide guidance to schools and child care centers. Funding to support this initiative was approved last year.
SB 88 and SB 89 have been referred to Committee on Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation in the Michigan House of Representatives.
Incoming College Students: Fill out your FAFSA!
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) deadline is approaching soon. The deadline is May 1, 2023, to be given priority consideration for some Michigan financial aid programs. Filling out your FAFSA can save you thousands of dollars a year off the cost of community, private, or public college. You can unlock grants, scholarships, and other assistance to put you on the path to higher education right here in Michigan.
One of the new ways you can save money is the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, a bipartisan scholarship we established last year to lower the cost of community, private, or public college by thousands of dollars a year—up to $27,500 over 5 years—for the majority of graduating seniors. All you need to do to qualify for the Michigan Achievement Scholarship is fill out your FAFSA—that’s it. You are probably eligible for more financial aid than you realize, and it is encouraged you fill out your FAFSA as soon as possible!
Helping Medicaid members keep their coverage
Take action to avoid a gap in coverage
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government declared a Public Health Emergency (PHE), allowing Medicaid members to keep their health care coverage. Per recent federal legislation, eligibility renewals will start again in June. Monthly renewal notifications will be sent by mail beginning in May.
Following these steps will help determine if you still qualify:
- Make sure your contact information is up to date.
- Check mail or text messages for a letter.
- Complete your renewal form (if you get one).
If you’re a Medicaid member, learn more about how these changes may affect your health care coverage at Michigan.gov/2023benefitchanges.
Changing Health Insurance can impact Auto Insurance
Your auto insurance may not be the first thing that comes to mind if you lose or change your health insurance, but there is an important connection that every Michigander should know about.
Under Michigan’s auto insurance law, drivers can choose from six different Personal Injury Protection (PIP) medical coverage levels when they buy or renew their auto insurance, which covers medical bills and other expenses if you are injured in an auto accident. For people who have Qualified Health Coverage (QHC), two options allow you to remove PIP medical coverage for yourself and/or eligible household members.
To count as QHC, your health insurance policy must not exclude or limit coverage for auto accident injuries and must have an individual deductible of $6,000 or less. Medicare Parts A and B or Medicare Advantage also count as QHC, but please note VA Health Benefits do not count as QHC.
If someone in your household does not have PIP medical coverage and has a change in their health insurance, you must ACT:
- A – Ask your auto insurance company or agent about your PIP medical coverage choice and find out if you need QHC to maintain your current selection.
- C – Contact your health insurer to determine if your new policy counts as QHC and to get an updated QHC letter.
- T –Tell your auto insurance company immediately if you lose your QHC. You have 30 days to obtain replacement health insurance or make a different PIP medical selection, or you risk not having medical coverage for yourself and your family in the event of a crash.
If you are interested in learning more or have questions, visit Michigan.gov/AutoInsurance or call the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (833) ASK-DIFS (275-3437).
Gear up for spring fishing by getting your 2023 fishing license
The new fishing license and regulation season kicked off April 1, so anglers need to be sure they have purchased a new license in order to enjoy Michigan’s great fishing opportunities. The 2023 fishing licenses are valid through March 31, 2024.
Fishing licenses can be purchased at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses or by downloading the Michigan DNR Hunt Fish app and purchasing via the app.
The 2023 Michigan Fishing Guide and Inland Trout & Salmon Maps are available online along with a lot of other helpful fishing information – including fishing locations, species identification and tips for beginners – at Michigan.gov/Fishing.