CEO Report – Who Will Speak for the Side of Healthcare?
Posted on June 03, 2019
"No voice is too soft when that voice speaks for others." - Janna Cachola
Like others who have been directly involved in Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance reform saga for many years, I didn’t sleep well – if at all – over the last several weeks as it became increasingly clear that the social, economic and political stars were finally going to align on this issue and significant change would be enacted. I have slept even less since Gov. Whitmer signed Senate Bill 1 on the front porch of the Grand Hotel last Thursday, with both Republican and Democratic political leaders at her side.
Like the proverbial finger in the dike, the MHA for years has expended incredible energy in protecting the current auto no-fault insurance system, which we earnestly believed was the best of its kind in the nation. And in many respects, our MHA advocacy – including direct engagement of MHA Board members – made a very positive difference, as the final version of this new legislation was a significant improvement on the versions initially passed by the full Senate and House. And Senate Bill 1 was almost certainly more palatable than what was highly likely to have been advanced through a ballot initiative (the credible threat of which may have been the “final straw” that pushed the reform legislation to the finish line). But at the same time, I find myself pondering whether on this issue, when push came to shove, Michigan political leaders – and by extension, the electorate who voted them into office – took the side of cost savings in the realm of auto insurance premiums for drivers. They took the side of the economic improvement that they believed would accrue to communities – most notably Detroit – if premium costs were reduced.
Make no mistake, our advocacy related to this issue is far from over, as we will seek opportunities to favorably affect the implementation of this new law in the regulatory and legal arenas, will participate in public education efforts to ensure that drivers understand how best to protect their healthcare interests going forward, and will surely seek special funding in the budget process for those providers most directly impacted.
The auto no-fault issue is extremely important, but it is far from the only issue in which the association has been deeply engaged this year. As the calendar turns to June, our advocacy focus moves to the completion of the Michigan fiscal year 2020 budget. Early results are very encouraging for our membership, as the version from the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services includes:
- Continuing the MHA Board-supported multiyear budget agreement, inclusive of our approach on hospital provider taxes.
- Fully funded increased state match requirements for the Healthy Michigan Plan, which now covers approximately 680,000 Michiganders.
- A one-time appropriation of $15 million in General Fund revenue to support Michigan’s 37 Critical Access Hospitals (nearly $42 million inclusive of federal match).
- Retained current year funding for the Rural Access Pool and the Obstetrical Stabilization Fund, restoring an additional $3 million that was cut in the governor’s executive recommendation.
- Protected Medicaid reimbursement rates.
- Protected Graduate Medical Education funding.
- The establishment of a behavioral health workgroup to determine an adequate reimbursement methodology for Medicaid inpatient psychiatric hospital care.
Taken together, these efforts protect well over $1 billion in funding that is critically needed now, more than ever, as our members continue to assure access to quality, affordable care for all Michiganders.
Finally, just a day prior to the bipartisan auto no-fault bill signing, the MHA was once again recognized as the second most effective advocacy association in the state according to the latest Michigan Insider’s Survey conducted by MIRS, the leading news outlet covering the legislative, judicial and executive branches of Michigan’s state government. This is high praise indeed, as the number of associations representing every sector under the sun could fill a phone book. Further, Chris Mitchell, MHA executive vice president, advocacy & public affairs, was recognized as one of the most effective association lobbyists in the state.
I have said two things a thousand times in recent years: first, politics is not a spectator sport; and second: elections have consequences. These are not pejorative statements, especially because healthcare is not a partisan issue, and the MHA and our members are not partisan players. The political leaders who took the side of auto insurance premium savings are the same political leaders who are taking the side of hospitals and healthcare in a state budget process that, year after year, includes demands for limited state resources from all corners. At the end of the day, it is my sincere hope that you will continue to work closely with the MHA to ensure that our elected leaders take the side of healthcare more often than not.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.
P.S. I look forward to seeing many of you at our MHA Annual Membership Meeting and our centennial celebration June 26-28 on Mackinac Island.
Posted in: MHA Rounds