United Way's VITA Extension and Financial Coaching

VITA Services are extended!


The United Way VITA (Volunteer Income tax Assistance Program) program has reopened their services until August 30, 2019. What does this mean for you? It means if you haven’t filed your 2018 taxes yet or if you need to file an amended return, you can do it! Maybe you filed 2018 but have not filed 2017 or 2016, VITA can help. If you received a letter from the IRS and need help responding to it, they can also help with that. At WHP, we have people who didn’t reconcile their tax credits either because they didn’t know they were supposed to or their tax preparer didn’t understand the forms. If you didn’t reconcile your tax credits, you need to file an amended return. If you need help with the Homestead Property Tax Credit, they can also help with that.

You still need to meet the same requirements for the regular VITA help.

  • income below $54,000 (single or joint)

  • need to have necessary documents to complete a return (e.g. W-s2, 1099s, etc.)

  • must provide photo identification and federal document with SSN visible


Since you are reading this online, you have access to a computer and can schedule your appointment online. That is the best way to schedule an appointment. Click here. You will also need to bring all the documents listed here. Some documents may not be relevant to your situation but if you aren’t sure, bring anything you think would be useful. If you have questions before your appointment, call 734-677-7235.


Myfreetaxes.com is free to anyone whose income is below $66,000. You can file an extension through MyFreeTaxes and finish filing by October 15, 2019. If you owe taxes, the IRS may charge you interest.

Financial Coaching at United Way

In addition to free tax help, United Way staff also provide another financial stability resource, One-on-One Financial Coaching. This service helps people eliminate or reduce debt, improve credit scores and save more money. Answer the questions below to determine if their service is a good fit for you.

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There is a good list of financial resources on their website. Check it out! Here is the flyer you can print out for VITA extended services.

Filing taxes and managing your money are important and your healthcare may depend on being financially responsible and knowledgeable.

United Way of Washtenaw County is located at 2305 Platt Rd. Ann Arbor, MI 48104. You can call 734-971-8200 or email liveunited@uwwashtenaw.org.

As always, if you have questions call us at the Washtenaw Health Plan. 734-544-3030 #WeHelpPeople

Ask a question in the comments and we will answer it right away!

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Free Health Coaching: A Wise Choice!

Are you looking for a way to improve your health? Don’t know where to start?

People need help with taking care of their health. This is hard to do when you have a busy schedule and don’t know where to start. Washtenaw County Health Department has a free health coaching program that can offer one-on-one support to help you meet your health goals. The health coaches will work with you and your schedule to set small achievable goals that will help improve your health.

You also receive a free gift after your first appointment. This might be a yoga mat, a blood pressure monitor, or a cookbook!

What is the program and do I qualify?


Wise Choices is a free health screening and health coaching program run by the Washtenaw County Health Department and funded by the State of Michigan’s Getting to the Heart of the Matter grant. The goal of this program is to help reduce negative health events like a stroke or heart attack, and help people live an overall healthier life style.

Notes Health Educator Kim Collom, "The great thing about this program is that you are in control--you decide if you want to set a goal, and what kind of goal to set. We just provide a bit of support!"

How do you know if you qualify?

There are only three requirements for this program:

  1. You must live in Michigan

  2. You must be 18 + years old

  3. Your income must be below 400% of the poverty level—see the guidelines below!

  • Household of 1…$49,960

  • Household of 2…$67,640

  • Household of 3…$85,320

  • Household of 4…$103,000.

Add $17,680 for each additional person. All income information is self-reported. (No paystubs required!)

How does the program work?

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Step 1: Call to make an appointment

You start the program with an in-person appointment. In this appointment the health coach will measure your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and more! You will receive your results during the same appointment and talk about the results with your health coach. During this first appointment, you will also receive a gift of your choice. The gift could be a yoga mat, pedometer, water bottle, and more!

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Step 2: If you are ready, set goals

Are you ready? Whatever your results, if you are ready to work on your health, you can work with your coach to set small, specific goals based on your needs and abilities. Your coach will then follow up with you regularly. It’s that easy!

If you aren’t ready, you can stop after the screening. The choice to work with a coach is always yours. YOU are in control.

How long does the program last?

The program lasts for a year, with an opportunity to re-enroll once your year is done. Over the next year, you and your coach will continue to check in, set small goals, and track your progress with improving your health. Improving your health is hard, and you do not have to do it alone. Let us help you—for free!

Who do I call to schedule my appointment?

To learn more, or to make your appointment call:

Kim Collom, Washtenaw County Health Educator


This blog post was written by Kate Worthington, a University of Michigan School of Public Health student and a summer intern for the Washtenaw County Health Department.

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Our Courtyard Transforms! It's Now...Built To Play!

A couple of years ago, WHP staff took a photo in the courtyard between our building and the Department of Health and Human Services. What was then benches and rosebushes is now…a playground!

This project was funded by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation Initiative, Built to Play.


For parents coming in and out of the Washtenaw Health Plan, Washtenaw County WIC or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, this could be a nice break in a day of errands! Maybe next time, the kids will not just “tolerate” coming to our campus, but will actually look forward to it!

The transformation was quick (it just took a few days!), and we will still have the nice trees turning colors in the fall.

For more details about why the health department applied for the grant, read this conversation on the Built to Play website with WCHD Communications and Community Health Promotion Manager Susan Ringler-Cerniglia.

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Getting Medicare? Do You Qualify for Help Paying for Prescriptions?

Extra Help? Part D? Low-Income Subsidy? Prescriptions?


Medicare prescription coverage is called Part D and if you are enrolling in Medicare, you have to enroll in Part D to get prescription coverage. Medicare can help you pay for some or all of your out of pocket prescription costs through a program called Extra Help or the Part D Low-Income Subsidy.

What is Extra Help?


Extra Help provides a Low-Income Subsidy to help pay for out of pocket costs for Part D prescription plans. Extra Help will help pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments. Extra Help can save you up to $4900 a year depending on your medications and on your income and assets. If you have low assets and are working, you may qualify even if your income is over the limit below. If you are struggling to pay for prescriptions, apply.

To qualify for Extra Help, your income and assets must be below:


How do I get Extra Help?

You must apply for Extra Help, it is not usually automatic. Social Security will need information about your income and assets. Assets include your savings, investments and real estate (other than your home). If you are married, you will need information for yourself and your spouse.


You may have received an Extra Help application in the mail when you first received information about starting Medicare. If you filled it out and mailed it back, you have already applied. If not, you can apply online at SocialSecurity.gov.

Some people automatically qualify for Extra Help and will receive a notice from Medicare. The notice will be purple, yellow or green or possibly orange. The purple notice says you qualify for Medicaid and Medicare and will receive the maximum Extra Help benefit. The yellow notice indicates you qualify for Extra Help and have been auto-enrolled unless you are already enrolled in a Part D plan. The orange notice states your Extra Help amount is changing for the coming year.


How do I know if I already have Extra Help?

You can call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 or log in to your account at medicare.gov.

In addition to Extra Help with Part D, you may also be eligible for help paying your Part B premium or be eligible for Medicaid with your Medicare.

At the WHP office, we help people who have Medicare apply for Medicaid. We can help you get an appointment with a Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) counselor to choose your Part D prescription plan. If you have questions, call us at 734-544-3030.


Medicare 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)

Social Security Administration 1-800-772-1213

Find your Level of Extra Help (Part D) from Medicare.gov.

Understanding the Extra Help With Your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan from Social Security.

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Measles Outbreak - Washtenaw County

Confirmed Cases of Measles in Washtenaw County


YPSILANTI, Mich., April 9, 2019 – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed measles in Washtenaw County as of April 8, 2019. Washtenaw County Health Department is providing additional information to local residents because of potential exposure to measles in public areas. Measles is very contagious, potentially serious and vaccine preventable.

Check and Update Your Measles Vaccination

Everyone is encouraged to check and update their measles vaccination, if needed. Anyone at any of the following Washtenaw County locations during the dates and times provided should monitor themselves for rash with fever or other symptoms consistent with measles for 21 days. If you suspect measles, seek immediate medical treatment. Residents are urged to call their doctor or emergency room before arriving so they can take precautions to prevent exposure to other individuals.


 Vaccine Information

The MMR vaccine is available through primary health care providers and at some local pharmacies. Individuals should contact their health care provider for advice.

Washtenaw County Health Department is offering the MMR vaccine. Call 734-544-6700 to schedule an appointment. Visit www.washtenaw.org/health for any updates.

Vaccine given within 72 hours of exposure can prevent illness. Immune globulin (Ig) treatment is effective within six days of exposure for high-risk individuals. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine if immune globulin is right for you. You cannot get measles from the vaccine.

Because measles can be spread through the air by an infected person, Washtenaw County Health Department is alerting the public to the potential exposures. A person with measles is contagious for four days before and four days after the rash appears. An individual who was in the same location up to two hours after an individual contagious with measles is considered potentially exposed.

Having two doses of MMR vaccine at least 28 days apart is fully protective. Having only one dose of MMR vaccine is approximately 93 percent protective. The first dose is routinely given to children after their first birthday. Vaccination is not necessary if an individual has a prior history of measles illness. Individuals born before 1957 are assumed to have natural immunity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 For updates, please visit www.washtenaw.org/health.

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Happy 50th Birthday to the AAATA. Are YOU Falling off Medicaid?

Happy 50th Birthday to  The Ride ! Cake picture from  sayitwithcake.ca .

Happy 50th Birthday to The Ride! Cake picture from sayitwithcake.ca.

The Ann Arbor Area Transit Authority, also known as The Ride, is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2019! People who ride the bus come from all over the county and have all kinds of insurance. But some bus riders may be losing Medicaid, and not know it.

That is why we are so excited to be partnering with The Ride on our Are You Falling off Medicaid? Campaign.

Through their generosity, we have placed posters in all buses starting March 1, 2019! We have timed this campaign to coincide with the mid-March increase in the minimum wage. Our hope is that we will be able to get people to visit or call us before their special enrollment period runs out. If done in time, people who lose Medicaid can get Marketplace or employer insurance.

Want a prize?

Snap a selfie of yourself with our poster and tag @coveragecounts on twitter, @healthcarecounts on facebook or @healthcarecounts on instagram!

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John Dingell and the Pursuit of Healthcare for All

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This photo shows former President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act. What you might not notice is the gentleman sitting in the right-hand corner of this photo. That was former Congressman John Dingell Jr., who represented much of Washtenaw County for many years. Dingell--who died yesterday--introduced a health care bill into Congress every year from his start as a legislator until the passage of the ACA, and he served for 59 years. Thank you, Congressman Dingell, for your devotion to healthcare for all.

A Little Bit of History

John Dingell’s father (also John Dingell!) was in Congress before John Dingell. John Dingell Sr. began cosponsoring a national health insurance bill (what we would now call “single-payer” legislation) and fighting for universal health care when the issue was less about cost and more about health care as a right. John Dingell Sr. was also active in the fight for social security.

John Dingell Jr. enjoyed the world of twitter, and here is a bit of history—in Dingell’s own words.

John Dingell Sr. is at the back wtih the mustache as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law.

John Dingell Sr. is at the back wtih the mustache as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law.

When John Dingell Sr. died, John Dingell Jr. ran for his congressional seat and took up the mantle, introducing a single-payer bill into Congress every year. But John Dingell Jr. was practical, and also worked for extending health care incrementally when the opportunities arose.

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John Dingell Jr. said the honor was given to him because the speaker had been great friends with Dingell’s father, and Dingell’s father had worked hard to make Medicare a reality. Note the gavel at bottom left.

John Dingell Jr. said the honor was given to him because the speaker had been great friends with Dingell’s father, and Dingell’s father had worked hard to make Medicare a reality. Note the gavel at bottom left.

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John Dingell Jr., July 8, 1926 – February 7, 2019

We thank John Dingell for his relentless support of health care through his entire career and for his dedication to working for the people of the United States.

Read more details about John Dingell’s role in fighting to extend health care to all here.

John Dingell’s NYTimes Obituary

From the Detroit Free Press:

John Dingell: In love with his life, in awe of his luck

Barack Obama: John Dingell made life better for Americans

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Get (Free) Help With Your Taxes!


Don't pay to have your taxes prepared!  

You can get free help if you are low income (less than 54,000/year for in person help or less than $66,000/year for online help).  

People need help filing their taxes for many reasons. Whatever the reason, there are some great resources.  Scroll down for a complete list of help in Washtenaw County. For anywhere else in the country, go to myfreetaxes.com and look for assistance from a local United Way—or do-it-yourself online!

What About the Health Insurance Requirement?


The Affordable Care Act required that most people have health care in 2018 or pay a penalty (shared responsibility payment) unless you qualify for an exemption.  If you had health care through the Marketplace (healthcare.gov) make sure you bring your 1095-A with you when you go to file your taxes.  Your 1095-A is available in the Messages section of your Marketplace (healthcare.gov) account.  You can also call the Marketplace (1-800-318-2596) and they can give the account holder the information over the phone.

For 2019, there is still a mandate requiring people to have health insurance but there is no longer a penalty. When filing taxes in 2020 for the 2019 year, there would be no penalty for not having health insurance.

EXEMPTIONS from the Shared Responsibility Payment

If you are an undocumented immigrant filing taxes using an ITIN number, or if your income is very low, or if your employer insurance was too expensive, you may not have to pay a penalty.  If you are not sure you qualify for an exemption, use the Health Coverage Exemptions tool.  The Exemptions Tool uses your answers to find exemptions that may work for you. It helps you see if you may qualify and tells you how to apply.  If you do qualify, talk to your tax preparer about receiving an exemption.  No tax preparer should ever collect money from you for not having health insurance, only the IRS can collect the shared responsibility payment.  [You can also read about the exemptions on the IRS web site.]

What Information Do You Need To File Taxes?

Here is a list of documents to bring with you to any tax preparation appointment or gather before you start your tax return online.  Make sure to contact your preparer about any specific requirements for receiving help.

  • Social Security or ITIN numbers for all family members, photo ID

  • W-2 forms for all jobs worked in the previous year

  • Proof of rent or mortgage and property tax payments

  • Childcare provider's name, address and federal tax ID number

  • Blank, voided check or deposit slip to set up direct deposit of refund

  • 1099 forms for other income, including unemployment, retirement, contract work

  • Social Security Letter(s) or W-2s

  • 1095-A, if you had health care from the Marketplace (healthcare.gov)

  • Copy of your last year's return (if available)

  • A heating bill from November 2015 - February 2016 or access to your energy bill online

  • Any other tax-related letters or documents

WHERE Can You go for Free Help? 


FREE income tax preparation assistance from the United Way of Washtenaw County for residents making up to $54,000 in 2018.

To schedule an appointment call 734-677-7235 or schedule online here.   Multiple locations can be scheduled online including the agencies below.

  • United Way, 2305 Platt Rd. Ann Arbor, 48104. 734-677-7235

  • Manchester Community Resource Center 710 East Main St., Manchester, 48158. 734-428-7722

  • Michigan Works! 304 Harriet St., Ypsilanti, 48197.

  • EMU College of Business 300 W. Michigan Ave. Ypsilanti, 48197.

Many other areas in Michigan have VITA or other tax assistance--use this link to find help in your area.


Do you use a computer?  Do you have access to the computer?  Does your family make $66,000 or less? Myfreetaxes.com is a free online service for tax preparation and filing from United Way and H&R Block.  

Myfreetaxes.com provides email, live chat and telephone support in English and Spanish. 80% of people who filed using this service finished in less than one hour.  If you do not have a computer or would prefer in-person help, computers are available during open VITA clinic hours at the United Way. Computers and volunteer assistance available on a first come, first served basis.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide

AARP serves adults (55+) with low incomes. Call to make an appointment or inquire about walk-in times.

  • Housing Bureau for Seniors @ the Turner Center 2401 Plymouth Rd., Ann Arbor, 48105. Call 734-998-9341.

  • Milan Senior Center 45 Neckel Ct., Milan, 48160. Call 734-508-6229.

  • Saline Area Senior Center 7190 N. Maple Rd., Saline, 48176. Call 734-429-9274.

  • Ypsilanti District Library 229 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti, 48197. Call 734-482-4110 Ext. 1385.

  • Chelsea Senior Center 512 E. Washington St., Chelsea, 48118. Call 734-475-9242 for Jennifer Smith.

Ann Arbor Senior Center

Ann Arbor Senior Center serves adults (55+) with low incomes. 1320 Baldwin Ave., Ann Arbor, 48104. Call 734-998-9341.

St. Francis

Adults and families with low incomes who have non-complex returns to file. 2150 Frieze Ave., Ann Arbor, 48104. Call 734-769-2550 and ask for Scott Wright.

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HELP! I got cut off of Medicaid!

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ASK: Why did I get cut off Medicaid?

Remember that you can get cut off of Medicaid because your income has risen, because the number of dependents has changed, or because you didn’t fill out an annual renewal (redetermination) form.


So first, figure out whether the cancellation was correct.

Should Medicaid Have Been Cancelled?

Let’s take a few examples:

  1. You failed to fill out an annual redetermination form, but nothing else in your life has changed. Medicaid is renewed annually, and sometimes people in a household are on different cycles, so you may need to fill out renewals more than once a year. If nothing has changed, you should still be eligible for Medicaid, and should reapply at MI Bridges.

  2. Your income and/or household size has changed. Even a small increase in hours or pay/hour (minimum wage is going up!) can make a big difference. Especially if there are multiple earners in a household, things can get complicated. Here’s how to figure out if your income is still eligible. Income limits for Medicaid.

    Your household size also may have changed. Perhaps a child has grown up and is now on their own; perhaps you got a divorce; perhaps someone in your family died; perhaps parents or grandparents have moved into your household. While you are looking at income, don’t forget to look at household size.

    Remember that eligibility is a combination of both household size and income. If you feel the determination was made incorrectly, you can reapply, or file a hearing (Part 1 and Part 2).

But What If the Determination Was Correct, And You’re Not Eligible For Medicaid?

Good News: You Qualify for a Special Enrollment Period

Employer Insurance


If your employer offers affordable health insurance, you generally are required to enroll. When your Medicaid ends, it opens a Special Enrollment Period for you to enroll in your employer health care.

It could be that the employer insurance is offered to someone else in the household, but you are eligible. With a Medicaid denial letter, you can get on their employer insurance with a Special Enrollment Period.

For an employer special enrollment period, you only have 30 days to take advantage of the offer, so don’t delay!

Marketplace (Healthcare.gov)


If your employer does not offer you insurance, you can apply on the Marketplace (healthcare.gov), and you will likely qualify for good tax credits. [If you don’t, please give us a call. You may have fallen into a “family glitch” or answered a question incorrectly.]

For the Marketplace, you have 60 days from the day your insurance ends for the special enrollment period. You will need to prove that you have lost your Medicaid insurance with a denial letter.


Questions? We Help People.

Call us at 734-544-3030

Walk in to our office at 555 Towner in Ypsilanti,

Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


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Public Charge and Public Benefits

If public charge rules changes happen, there will be a notification period. DON'T end any public benefits now. #AllAreWelcomeHere

Want more information? Read the post, Welcome Immigrants—Opposing Public Charge Rules Changes, from December 2018.


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