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LEO | Poverty Task Force Releases Policy Recommendations to Improve Health Outcomes for Michiganders

Michigan Business Network
June 14, 2022 5:00 PM

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Group releases 29 policy recommendations designed to lift struggling Michiganders out of poverty and improve their health outcomes, highlights the connection between wealth and health outcomes

CLIO, Mich. – The Michigan Poverty Task Force released its second set of policy recommendations to continue the State’s efforts to lift struggling Michiganders out of poverty and improve their health outcomes. Since the task force’s first 2021 report, significant investments for Michigan families have centered on gaps in Michigan’s social safety net and were included in Gov. Whitmer’s FY22 budget based on PTF 2021 recommendations.

Today’s report offered 29 policy recommendations designed to address disparities that make some Michiganders both poorer and sicker than others. The recommendations are organized around social determinants of health, or non-medical factors that influence health outcomes.  

“To make Michigan a place of opportunity, we have to invest in Michiganders and ensure they have access to quality, affordable healthcare and the chance to earn a great education or land a good-paying job,” said Governor Whitmer. “There is a strong connection between the health and wealth of Michiganders and this report helps us address barriers to economic stability that impede health outcomes. Together, we made significant investments in the last state budget to uplift working families, but we must do more to deliver on the kitchen-table issues, lower costs, and continue growing Michigan’s economy.”

The Task Force recommendations were made in five key focus areas:

  • Income and social protection
  • Housing, basic amenities and the environment
  • Early childhood development
  • Social inclusion and nondiscrimination
  • Access to affordable health services of decent quality

“In 2021, the Poverty Task Force made significant progress in its advocacy for our recommended policy changes to ensure that every Michigander has access to economic opportunity and prosperity,” said Kim Trent, who leads the task force and is the Deputy Director of Prosperity with the Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO). “With these next set of recommendations, we are proposing solutions designed to make struggling Michiganders wealthier and healthier.”

The Poverty Task Force released today’s report at the Safety Net Store in Clio which serves the community with food insecurity needs, and chose the rural setting for the announcement to highlight the challenges facing low-income Michiganders in rural communities. Among the report’s 29 recommendations are strategies to address the lack of access to quality childcare, affordable housing options and broadband in rural areas.  In rural communities, Michiganders struggle to find access to childcare, affordable housing options, access to broadband, and utilizing Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC), which burdens families and affects health.

“Those struggling economically, in good times and bad, are hard-working Michiganders who get up every day and work hard to earn a living. Expanding Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit is the best way for the state to support the too-many hard-working Michiganders who are struggling economically,” said Nate Jonker, a former state representative who was instrumental in the creation of the Safety Net Store.

This is the second report from the Task Force, which Whitmer convened in 2019 to leverage the policy expertise of 14 state departments to create strategies to reduce poverty in Michigan. The body’s first report contained 32 recommendations, including 13 that have been adopted or have had significant momentum. 

The 2022 report examines policy gaps that affect struggling Michiganders with health inequities concentrating on the social determinants of health and offers recommendations designed to address disparities that make some Michiganders both poorer and sicker than others. The World Health Organization defines social determinants of health as the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes.  

“Having access to quality healthcare plays a major role in health outcomes among struggling families and these recommendations will look at how we can remove roadblocks to health equality,” said Jamie Gaskin, CEO of United Way Genesee County. “The governor made significant investments in the 2022 budget, but there is more work that needs to be done to help strengthen struggling families with kitchen-table issues. These new recommendations are a significant step in the right direction to improving the wealth and health of Michiganders living in poverty.”

While most of the 2022 recommendations are being introduced for the first time, PTF has included five were that previously presented in the PTF’s 2021 report that the group continues to support. The report also includes a section featuring 13 recommendations from the 2021 report that have been adopted or have momentum for adoption soon. Among them is PTF’s recommendation to boost the state’s earned income tax credit match, a proposal that could lift at least 22,000 Michiganders out of poverty.   

The Poverty Task Force, led by LEO, consists of leaders from 14 state departments, with input from the legislature, philanthropy, and community organizations working together to develop a comprehensive anti-poverty plan for Michigan and will continue to move the needle forward on the remaining recommendations as well as look ahead to additional requests coming in early 2022. 

More information on the Poverty Task Force is available at Michigan.gov/PovertyTaskForce


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