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How Much Tax Might Be Owed On Vaccine Sweepstakes Awards?

The state July 21 announced two more $50,000 vaccine lottery award winners, as well as the first $1 million prize. But how much is that, really?

While the Michigan Lottery isn’t running the show on the MI Shot to Win sweepstakes, for any Lottery prize awarded over $5,000, the Lottery is forced to withhold 24% in federal taxes and 4.25% in state taxes, according to its website.

So if the MI Shot to Win sweepstakes winners were treated to the same standards, the $1 million prize winner would need to fork over $240,000 to Uncle Sam and $42,500 over to the state Treasury. That equals out to $717,500 in winnings.

The $50,000 winner could conceivably owe $12,000 to the feds and $2,125 to the state. That’s $35,875 net winnings.

But the Lottery website warns that those amounts don’t necessarily satisfy a person’s tax liability and are just estimates. The correct answer would come from the IRS, Treasury or a professional tax expert.

The second round of vaccine sweepstakes winners announced today included the first grand prize offering of $1 million award to Grand Blanc resident LaTonda Anderson.

After getting the big check, Anderson said once she figures out how much she owes in taxes—“you gotta do your tax obligation”—she said she’s a “woman of faith” and will be giving “back my tithes and offerings, that will be first.”

After that, Anderson, who works as an account manager at a wellness management company, said she’ll pay off some college tuition for her daughter going through dental school.

Kerry Ebersole Singh, chair of the state’s vaccination promotion panel, showed up to Anderson’s home with the big check in tow in what was described as a surprise visit. The pre-recorded video was played during the award announcement today over Zoom.

Also part of the announcement were Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II and Michigan native and former Saturday Night Live star Tim Meadows.

The next two $50,000 daily drawing winners announced today were Jenna Basaj from Madison Heights and Paul Bareno from Rockford.

The state is sitting at 62.9% partially vaccinated and 53.5% fully vaccinated, according to the most recent data. Statewide weekly vaccination numbers continued their decline for the week ending July 17, when there were 59,206 doses given, compared to the 63,161 the week before and the 70,898 for the week ending July 3.

Asked about the vaccine trends since the contest was first announced July 1, Gilchrist said that every time a person makes a choice to get vaccinated, it’s a “step in the right direction for the state of Michigan.”

He said the sweepstakes could be the “extra piece” that folks need to decide to get vaccinated. Gilchrist also mentioned the mobile vaccination clinics that are bringing the doses directly to people who may be homebound, for instance.

Shirkey: No On Vax Lottery; New COVID Cases Up 34%

Good thing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did not need the Senate Majority Leader’s vote to create the COVID vaccination sweepstakes, which is dangling millions of dollars in front of those recalcitrant citizens, because Sen. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) would have been a no vote.

“We don’t need a lottery” to encourage folks to get a shot, he told WKHM Radio during an interview.

He did suggest that if folks wanted the shot they should get it, but they should do a benefit-risk analysis first before rolling up their sleeves. In another words, it wasn’t a full-throated shot endorsement that the governor and others are making to boost the vaccination rate closer to 70%.

And on that 70% rate, he suggested that he got a lot of criticism when he talked about herd immunity and now, he told the radio audience, everyone is talking about it, which makes him feel vindicated after all the barbs he took for his original comments months ago.

He also said he is looking forward to a return to in-classroom learning for school kids this fall “without masks.”

Overall, 62.5% of Michigan residents 16 and older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot. Another 53.2% are fully vaccinated.

Shirkey Unveils Mental Health Integration, Coordination Bills

Mental health services should be consistent across the state and be integrated with physical health services, Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said July 15 on the Senate floor as he announced the introduction of two bills to address the issue.

Shirkey’s own SB 0597 and SB 0598, by Sen. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek), will begin the “long overdue process” of phasing in the “transition to a coordinated, integrated effort for public health delivery integrating mental and physical health,” Shirkey said.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic had “amplified and magnified” the need “to reevaluate how we deliver mental health services.”

“Mental health services should not be dependent on where one happens to live. They should be consistent across our state,” Shirkey said. “. . . There is a very direct correlation and consistent connection between effectiveness of mental health services and physical health outcomes. Oftentimes physical health outcomes are exacerbated in major ways if the mental health services are not coordinated properly.”

While the bills do not yet have bipartisan support, he said he was confident that by the time the Senate is done with the legislation it will have the support of both parties. Shirkey said he has talked to stakeholders and interest groups across the state, seeking feedback and support.

Under SB 0597, the state would contract for a comprehensive Medicaid health care benefit package that includes the “full integration of physical and behavioral services,” according to his press release.

The state would phase in integration in three steps to ensure continuity of care and services for both patients and providers, the release states. The state would be required to adopt measurement standards to ensure performance targets are met before moving on to the next phase.

Bizon’s SB 0598 would create a behavioral health ombudsman, who would establish procedures for receiving and processing complaints, conduct investigations, hold informal hearings and make recommendations as a result.

The bill would also create a behavioral health accountability council, chaired by the ombudsman, to monitor the progress of the integrated plans.

The bills were referred to the Senate Government Operations Committee.

Shots In Arms Not Going Up As Vax Sweepstakes Nears Halfway Point

Nearly halfway through the month-long Michigan vaccine sweepstakes championed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the number of the shots in arms hasn’t increased when compared to just before the contest was announced July 1.

Since the beginning of July and through July 12, an average of 8,487 shots per day have been given, according to the latest state data. In the 12 days before the contest was announced – or June 19 through June 30 – the average per day was 11,557.

In total numbers, there have been 101,845 shots administered between July 1 and 12. In the 12 days preceding the contest, that number was 138,681.

For the week ending June 26, there were 86,227 shots given statewide. For the week ending July 3, there were 70,698 shots given statewide. And by the end of the July 10 week, there were 62,542 shots given.

On the day the contest was announced, the state was sitting at 61.8% of those 16 and older who are partially vaccinated, according to the data from June 30, which also showed 52.1% were completely vaccinated.

In mid-July those numbers were 62.4% partially vaccinated and 53% fully vaccinated.

The stated goal of the MI Shot To Win sweepstakes is to boost the state’s vaccination rate to 70%, which would’ve taken roughly 767,000 Michiganders at the time.

The state now needs about 600,000 more Michiganders to get vaccinated to reach the 70% goal, Whitmer said during the virtual event announcing the first winners of the MI Shot To Win sweepstakes, which featured four people who won $50,000 each.

The governor said the sweepstakes are “absolutely . . . a success” when asked by a reporter at a different event in Flint about the contest, which is paid for by $5 million in allocated federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Whitmer said a media report found Michigan’s vaccinations were up while almost every other state in nation has been seeing a drop, “so we knew that it’s incremental improvement at this juncture.”

“Our modeling always told us we were going to get to this point, this is one more tool to encourage people to get vaccinated,” she said.

The four winners announced during the Zoom program said they got their shots after the contest was announced July 1, as the only people eligible for the daily $50,000 drawings are the newly vaccinated people since July 1.

One of the winners, Larita Lee of Wyoming, was said to have cited the sweepstakes for the reason she was immunized, according to Kerry Ebersole Singh, executive director of the Protect Michigan Commission.

Two of the winners recorded videos explaining why they got vaccinated and what they were planning to do with the money, including Chris Ackerman of Detroit.

“I’m happy I got vaccinated, because first off, I’m safe, keep my family safe, and now look, just won some money,” he said.

The other winners were Adrienne Peterson of Southfield and Amber Berger of New Baltimore. University of Michigan Softball Coach Carol Hutchins also took part in the program.

Anyone vaccinated is eligible for the $1 million and $2 million drawings, which haven’t been announced yet. The contest is set to run through August 3.

SFA Suggests 70% Vaccinated Population Could Be Reached By Dec. 5

The Senate Fiscal Agency said Michigan could reach a 70% vaccinated population amongst those 16 years-old and over with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 5 of this year.

Currently, 62.4% of Michiganders of 16 years and older have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. On July 7, the SFA gave a less optimistic projection of not reaching 70% until July 4, 2022—a number the SFA described as being influenced by the July 4 holiday weekend.

What was an average of 4,174 daily doses in Michigan by the Wednesday following the festive weekend, bounced to a state average of 8,964 daily doses as of July 12.

Out of Michigan’s unvaccinated population of 3.01 million 16-plus year-olds, .1% of them are receiving their initial dose each day—in mid-July, the unvaccinated population was 3.05 million Michiganders.

The change comes after the governor announced on July 1 the MI Shot To Win vaccine sweepstakes with $5 million of prizes to those who chose to get vaccinated. The first round of winners is expected to come July 14.

Oakland County, the state’s second largest county, was about 6,900 residents away from reaching a 70% vaccine coverage within the county as of July 13.

Currently, the Oakland County Health Division is offering $50 gift cards as a COVID-19 vaccine incentive for residents who receive their first dose between Jun. 24 and the 70%-cap off date.

“We cannot stop vaccinating at 70%, however,” said director Dr. Russell Faust of the county’s health division. “The variants will keep coming and the higher the proportion of our community is vaccinated, the safer we all will be.”

In Oakland County, weekly vaccine distributions have dropped from 69,210 delivered during the week ending on May 1 to 140 as of the week concluding on July12. Other high-populated counties have seen a similar decline, as well as the state of Michigan.

Senate Fiscal: 70% Vaccinated State Might Not Happen Until 2022

As daily vaccination numbers drop, the Senate Fiscal Agency estimated it may not be until July 4, 2022 when the state reaches a 70% vaccinated population.

When the MI Vacc to Normal Challenge was initially presented by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the state hoped to see 70% of eligible individuals with at least one shot in their arm before kicking off the 14-day countdown toward lifting face mask orders, broad COVID-19 mitigation mandates and rules on gatherings.

Currently, the state’s been nearly fully relieved of COVID-19 restrictions, with 62% of its 16-years-old and over population having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 52.3% have completed their series.

The SFA provided the average of daily doses was 4,174 in Michigan, with 1,740 daily first doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The current population of 16-year-olds and older who are unvaccinated is 3.05 million people.

More than 1 million residents have entered Michigan’s MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes, consisting of more than $5 million in prizes and nearly $500,000 in scholarships.

However, the sweepstakes isn’t limited to newly vaccinated Michiganders, but to those who received their initial dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 1, 2020 or afterward.

On June 28, the DHHS allocated six two-year contracts, with a total value of nearly $60 million, to services offering homebound vaccinations, community-based mobile clinics and medium to large vaccination sites.

“Providing mobile and other community-based vaccination services will help ensure high-risk individuals have access to the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine,” said DHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “This is part of the state’s efforts to bring vaccines into communities and to vaccinate as many Michiganders as possible.”

According to a survey released by the Detroit Regional Chamber and conducted from May 22-26 by Glengariff Group, 20% of voters from a 600-person sample said they did not plan on getting vaccinated for COVID-19—a 10-point drop from December 2020 and a quantity consistent with February numbers.

Out of this group, 20.8% said there was not enough testing or research on any of the COVID-19 vaccines, 18.3% said they did not trust the vaccine and 15.8% said it was because of bad side effects.

More than 92% said a lottery prize would not motivate them to get vaccinated.

Patients Would Have To Be Told Of ‘Abortion Reversal Pill’ Under Bill

Abortion providers would have to inform patients undergoing an abortion by medication about the existence of an “abortion reversal pill” that could stop the process should she change her mind, under legislation proposed by Rep. Sue Allor (R-Wolverine).

Some medical experts however say the pill is unproven and has not been studied, so they argue to bill would require doctors give patients false and misleading information.

Allor told the House Health Policy Committee recently that most abortions are “chemical abortions,” which account for “51.7% of the 29,669 abortions performed last year alone” in Michigan. The procedure is a two-pill regimen taken 24 to 48 hours apart.

“What many do not know is that if a woman were to change her mind after taking the first of the two pills, but before taking the second pill, there is a treatment protocol known as the abortion reversal pill which can be used to counter the effects of the first pill and potentially save the baby’s life,” Allor said.

She said her bill would require abortion providers to give women who choose chemical abortion information that a form of treatment is available that could reverse her abortion if she had a change of heart.

Health Policy Chair Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian) said she wanted to give the bill, HB 5089, an initial hearing so that lawmakers can talk to medical professionals in their districts over the summer. She said additional testimony on the legislation is expected and the bill is expected to be taken up by the committee in the fall.

Genevieve Marnon, of Right to Life Michigan, supported the bill, saying it would not ban abortion, but provide pregnant women with information, which “is the bedrock of informed consent.

“Of course, the pro-abortion lobbying hates this bill because they have long tried to deny women access to real information about their unborn child and the reality of what abortion is, the killing of that unborn child,” Marnon said. “. . . With over 15,000 chemical abortions taking place each year in Michigan, there are bound to be several women who immediately regret taking the abortion pill and are desperate to reverse the effects.”

Abortion proponents say that the reversal pill is unsafe or that the baby will be deformed, but Marnon contended that is not true.

“A retrospective study done shows no increase in birth defects after the abortion pill reversal protocols are done. And progesterone, which is the treatment given in the abortion pill reversal procedure, has been safely used in pregnant woman for over half a century. More importantly, over 2,000 babies have been saved using the abortion pill reversal protocol” Marnon contended.

Dr. Sarah Wallett, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of Michigan, said that as a physician she already is obligated to provide her patients with all relevant information about the range of care options available to them. Laws specifically dictating what physicians must discuss during health care encounters undermines the patient-physician relationship, she contended.

“The first part of this bill, requiring information to be shared about a false medical procedure, would force me to provide patients with information that is medically inaccurate, misleading and could be harmful to a person’s health,” Wallett said. “There is no scientific or medical evidence that proves that reversing a medication abortion is possible, no clinical trials, no objective or credible data.”

That means the pill also has not been tested for side effects, she said.

“Furthermore, requiring physicians to tell patients that a medication abortion may be reversible undermines the informed consent process and risks misleading people seeking abortion care to believe that they do not need to be certain about their decision. A person should not be led to believe that they can change their mind after taking the mifepristone if it creates a risk that a patient may begin an abortion before they are ready to commit to that decision,” Wallet said.

Dr. Halley Crissman, representing the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said “so-called abortion reversal treatments” are unproven and unstudied.

In the rare case in which a patient changed her mind about an abortion and wanted to continue the pregnancy, the best medical guidelines say the patient should be monitored expectantly, not given an experimental treatment outside of a study, Crissman said.

She asked lawmakers, “to sit back, close your eyes and consider the last time you were in the doctor’s office. Imagine how appalling and untenable it would sound if I told you that your doctor had a mandate from the state to read you a script with untruths and misinformation about the treatment for one of your conditions. Such an egregious violation of the patient-physician relationship is unacceptable in any aspect of care. For our fellow Michiganders who access abortion care, it should be no different.”

The bill is a reintroduction of legislation proposed last year, but Kahle said this year’s version includes several provisions that previously had been written into separate legislation.

Auditor General Agrees To Review COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths

The Office of the Auditor General has agreed to perform a review of how many individuals died in nursing homes and long-term care facilities due to COVID-19.

A letter from Auditor General Doug Ringler, written in June, says it will review department databases to address concerns raised by House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Steven Johnson (R-Wayland).

The letter, issued today by Johnson, estimates the audit will be complete in late-September to mid-October.

Johnson contends Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel “admitted” during an Oversight Committee hearing that the department was not providing a full count of those that died of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities.

Yet, Hertel said after testifying that she feels the department has an accurate picture of how many people have died in these facilities.

“I am confident that the Auditor General will provide us with a more accurate picture of the deadly results of Gov. (Gretchen) Whitmer’s decision to place COVID positive patients in long-term care facilities,” Johnson said.

He contends Whitmer “made a deadly decision to place COVID-positive patients in long-term care facilities” in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news also got reaction from Michigan Republican Party Chair Ron Weiser, who issued a statement that said Whitmer “has been reckless with people’s lives and is responsible for policies driven by her political agenda rather than what’s best for the people of Michigan.”

Government Workers Are Getting Their Shots JULY1

State and local government employees have one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, according to new survey data.

Roughly 70% are fully vaccinated and another 6% have had one dose of a vaccine. Also, 45% of those same workers believe government should mandate the shots for all government workers.

The research on 1,203 government employees shows that the leading industry with the most shots is education, where 76% are good to go. Public safety workers are next at 68% and, interestingly, the industry that is at the forefront of promoting the shots, health and human services, is at 62%, tied for last place with administration and finance workers.

The data compiled by Mission Square Research Institute formerly known as the Center for State and Local Government Excellence discovered a difference in shot rates based on gender, age, race and household income.

More women than men in government employment have received the shots (72% to 68%.) The higher your income, the greater the participation — 78% of those earning over $100,000 lead that subgroup with those earning under $50,000 coming in last at 55%.

The data based on race is reflective on what’s happening nationwide as 44% of the African American civil servants have the shots, compared to 75% of Caucasians. Those under the age of 40 have the lowest rate at 61% while 86% of the seniors have the highest.

While Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is dangling financial rewards for getting inoculated, this survey found that 5% of local and state government workforces are mandating that their hires get the shot and 8% are incentivizing them to participate. Another 22% are neutral on the issue.