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Issue Alert - 09-04-07

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Apr 16, 2009

Program Area:

Medicaid, Food Assistance Program (FAP), Family Independence Program, State Disability Assistance and State Emergency Relief

Issue Summary:

Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Community Health (DCH) Hearing Decisions (with personal information redacted) are now available online and are searchable

Persons Affected:

Advocates and others who want to access hearing decisions

For More Information:

Center for Civil Justice 320 S. Washington, 2nd Floor Saginaw, MI 48607 (989) 755-3120, (800)724-7441 Fax: (989) 755-3558 E-mail:

Michigan Poverty Law Program 611 Church Street, Suite 4A Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3000 (734) 998-6100 (734) 998-9125 Fax


State and federal law requires most hearing decisions involving public assistance programs administered by the Department of Community Health and the Department of Human Services to be available to the public, with personal identifying information redacted.

For many years, the state met this responsibility by keeping binders with Hearing Decisions, filed by Issue Codes.   More recently, however, the state did not maintain redacted copies of hearing decisions but would redact and produce copies of particular decisions upon request.

In the 2009 Appropriations Act for the Department of Labor and Economic Growth, 2008 PA 251, section 378, the Department was directed to work with the Center for Civil Justice on setting up a system of public access via the internet.

What's Happening?

The State Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules (SOAHR)  has begun posting  Medicaid, Food Assistance Program (FAP), Family Independence Program, State Disability Assistance and State Emergency Relief hearing decisions on its website.  New decisions will be posted on a weekly basis.

To search the Hearing Decisions, go to:,1607,7-154-10576_35738_52321-204573--,00.html  or go to the home page and click on “Hearings, Appeals, Medication and Rules”; “State Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules”; “Search SOAHR Assistance Cases.”

The hearing decisions are searchable.  Thus, for example, individuals can search for all cases decided by a particular Administrative Law Judge by entering the judge’s name; or can search

for all Medicaid disability cases involving arthritis by entering “Medicaid disability arthritis”.  The Center for Civil Justice has asked SOAHR to post the “Issue Codes” used to classify the issues decided in a case, which are listed in the caption of the Hearing Decisions, so that the public will be able to search by those codes, also.
Hearing Decisions do not bind anyone other than the parties to the particular case, but they may be helpful in understanding how a particular issue has been analyzed in the past by particular ALJs or the Department in general,  and whether there are patterns in agency decision making that should be addressed by advocates in a more systemic way. 

What Should Advocates Do?

Use the Website.  Let SOAHR know if you have questions, problems, or suggestions regarding the website.

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services offices handle these types of cases, and they do not charge a fee.

You can locate various sources of legal and related services, including the free legal aid office that serves your county, at

You can also look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738.