Headline Roundup: Cancer Drug Shortage Continues

MHA CEO Brian Peters appears on the Michigan Business Beat.
MHA CEO Brian Peters appears on the Michigan Business Beat.
MHA CEO Brian Peters appears on the Michigan Business Beat.

The MHA received media coverage the week of May 21 regarding the continued shortage of cancer drugs carboplatin and cisplatin and hospital workforce shortages.

MHA representatives appearing in published stories include CEO Brian Peters, Executive Vice President Laura Appel, Senior Director of Government & Political Affairs Elizabeth Kutter and Senior Director of Communications John Karasinski.

Below is a collection of headline from around the state.

Thursday, May 25

Wednesday, May 24

Tuesday, May 23

Monday, May 22

Sunday, May 21

Members with any questions regarding media requests should contact John Karasinski at the MHA.

Headline Roundup: Chemotherapy Drug Shortages & Hospital Workforce

Laura Appel

The MHA received media coverage the week of May 15 regarding a shortage of two critical chemotherapy medications, hospital nurse staffing legislation and the well-being of hospital workers. A press release was published May 17 by the MHA regarding the shortage of cisplatin and carboplatin and the strategies hospitals and health systems are implementing to continue chemotherapy treatments for patients.

MHA representatives appearing in published stories include CEO Brian Peters and Executive Vice President Laura Appel. MONL President Kim Meeker, RN, BSN, MBA, also appears in a story on the nurse staffing legislation, while MHA Keystone Center WELL-B partner Bryan Sexton, PhD, from the Duke Center for Healthcare Safety and Quality, appears in a story about how hospitals assist healthcare workers with feelings of grief and loss.

Below is a collection of headlines from around the state.

Friday, May 19

Thursday, May 18

Wednesday, May 17

Tuesday, May 16

Members with any questions regarding media requests should contact John Karasinski at the MHA.

Patient Treatment Impacted by Shortage of Cancer Drugs

Manufacturing delays at several pharmaceutical companies are causing nationwide shortages of two critical chemotherapy medications – forcing Michigan hospitals and health systems to find alternative treatments for patients, some of which may be less effective. The two drugs are cisplatin and carboplatin and are used to treat several types of cancer, including bladder, lung, ovarian and testicular cancers. The shortage of these chemotherapy drugs is widespread across the country, impacting hospitals throughout all regions of Michigan.

Both drugs are provided by healthcare providers as injections to oncology patients. The shortage of cisplatin was originally reported to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Feb. 10, 2023, while carboplatin was reported April 28, 2023. Both shortage durations are expected to last at least into June 2023.

To reduce the impact of shortages on patients, hospitals are trying many different solutions, including managing existing supply, seeking alternative sources for drugs in short supply, adjusting chemotherapy regimens for impacted patients and working with healthcare systems, as well as state and federal officials, to mitigate these challenges.

“The priority of hospitals is delivering the right care to every patient, every time,” said MHA CEO Brian Peters. “Drug shortages severely hamper a hospital’s ability to provide patients with the best treatment, while forcing hospitals to implement strategies that may increase the cost of care and sometimes do not offer the same effectiveness in treatment.”

This current shortage follows a national trend of drug shortages impacting healthcare providers for years. A survey of medical oncologists published in the New England Journal of Medicine found 83% were unable to prescribe their preferred chemotherapy agent due to shortages.

The MHA supports the following strategies that will address the issue:

  • Relaxing prior authorization requirements from health insurers for alternative therapies so they can be widely used, as appropriate.
  • Establishing an early warning system to help avoid or minimize drug shortages.
  • Removing regulatory obstacles faced by manufacturers and the FDA as a way of averting or mitigating drug shortages and allowing drug imports.
  • Improving communication with healthcare providers, including extent and timeliness of information. There often is no transparency on the cause of a drug shortage and many shortages occur with generic drugs.
  • Exploring incentives to encourage drug manufacturers to stay in, re-enter or initially enter the market.

Patients concerned about the impact of this drug shortage should contact their healthcare provider.

Headline Roundup: Nurse Staffing Legislation & Staffing Shortages

Brian Peters

The MHA received media coverage the week of May 8 regarding nurse staffing legislation, healthcare worker shortages, the ending of the COVID-19 public health emergency and more. A joint media statement was published May 11 by the MHA and the Michigan Organization for Nursing Leadership (MONL) immediately following a press conference announcing legislation that would mandate nursing staffing ratios. The statement referenced the potential for the proposed bills to severely harm hospitals and access to important services for patients, if the bills become law.

MHA representatives appearing in published stories include CEO Brian Peters, Executive Vice President Laura Appel and Senior Vice President Sam Watson. MONL President Kim Meeker, RN, BSN, MBA, also appears in a collection of stories on the nurse staffing legislation. Below is a collection of headlines from around the state.

Friday, May 12

Thursday, May 11

Wednesday, May 10

Tuesday, May 9

Members with any questions regarding media requests should contact John Karasinski at the MHA.

Media Recap: Economic Impact of Healthcare and Nurse Staffing Ratios

MHA CEO Brian Peters speaks with WLNS.
MHA CEO Brian Peters speaks with WLNS.
MHA CEO Brian Peters speaks with WLNS.

The MHA received media coverage the week of May 1 on the economic impact of healthcare in Michigan and planned state legislation that would require nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in hospitals.

Crain’s Grand Rapids Business published an article May 4 on the 2023 release of the Economic Impact of Healthcare in Michigan report. The report demonstrates healthcare remains Michigan’s largest private-sector employer, providing nearly 568,000 direct jobs, including 219,000 in hospitals. The report shares fiscal year 2021 data, displaying the impact the pandemic had on healthcare and employment. A survey of Michigan hospitals in March 2023 showed more than 27,000 job openings in Michigan hospitals.

“Our hospitals are trying to fill those slots and many of those are nursing. So, that opportunity to bring more people into health care, it’s there today and it’s going to increase going forward,” said Peters. “We’re an economic engine that hires a lot of people and we need even more based on the environment that we’re experiencing right now.”

WLNS-TV also aired a story May 3 on planned legislation supported by the Michigan Nurses Association that would mandate nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. MHA CEO Brian Peters spoke with WLNS to explain how detrimental a mandated one-size-fits-all approach would be to Michigan hospitals, health systems and the availability of care for patients. Peters emphasized the need for hospitals to have local control to determine staffing models that best represent the needs of their patients and communities. He also provided solutions the MHA and member hospitals and health systems are implementing to address the nearly 8,500 opening nursing positions in Michigan hospitals and to retain existing nurses.

“Our chief nursing officers are really in the best position to make those decisions, a one-size fits all mandated approach, certainly does not give us that flexibility,” said Peters. “This would only add fuel to that fire and really threaten that viability of our hospitals throughout the state of Michigan.”

Becker’s Hospital Review published an article May 5 on each of these issues.

Michigan’s Largest Private-sector Employer Remains Healthcare

Provides Nearly 568,000 Direct Jobs, 219,000 in Hospitals Alone

The Partnership for Michigan’s Health reports healthcare directly employed nearly 568,000 Michigan residents in 2021, demonstrating that healthcare remains the largest private-sector employer in the state despite continued staffing losses attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2023 release of The Economic Impact of Healthcare in Michigan shows direct healthcare workers in Michigan earned nearly $46 billion that year in wages, salaries and benefits. Hospitals alone employed 219,000 individuals in the state in 2021.

Direct healthcare employment helps create additional jobs that are indirectly related to or induced by healthcare. These indirect, healthcare-supported jobs are held by more than 470,000 people who earned about $28 billion in 2021 in wages, salaries and benefits. Together with their employers, the more than one million workers in healthcare contributed $19.6 billion that year in local, state and federal taxes. These taxes include Social Security, income, motor vehicle, sales, property, corporate and more.

Data from 2021 shows the impact the pandemic had on the healthcare workforce in Michigan. While direct jobs decreased by nearly 4,000 total positions, direct wages increased by 4% year-over-year as labor costs rose due to increased demand. Direct wages in hospitals increased by 6.8%, as many hospitals offered wage adjustments and bonuses to recruit and retain employees, and increased the use of contract labor with staffing agencies. A separate study conducted by the MHA in 2022 showed expenses related to contract labor and recruitment and retention bonuses increased by $516 million from 2020 to 2021. Nursing and Residential Care also experienced a similar trend, as the number of jobs in the category fell by about 8,000 but compensation remained about the same.

The increase in direct wages for hospital employees follows a national trend. A recent American Hospital Association report shows labor costs increased 20.8% between 2019 and 2022. The increase is due in large part to a greater reliance on contract staffing agencies due to staffing challenges and to meet patient demand. Increased labor expenses have a more profound impact on hospitals and health systems, as labor expenses account for more than 50% of total expenses for most hospitals. In addition, healthcare reimbursement is unable to quickly respond to inflationary pressures since rates with commercial payers are negotiated months in advance while Medicare and Medicaid rates are even slower to adjust, presenting additional financial challenges when responding to sudden labor market demand.

The loss of healthcare workers has also had a detrimental impact on physician practices. According to a survey conducted by the Michigan State Medical Society, 86% of participating physician practices experienced a decline in the number of health professionals and administrative staff employed by the practice since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and medical assistants. In addition, 69% reported staffing shortages led to increased wait times for patients, 55% had to reduce hours or available appointments and 43% experienced an estimated 10-25% reduction in patient revenue.

The report was compiled by the Partnership for Michigan’s Health, which consists of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, the Michigan State Medical Society and the Michigan Osteopathic Association, all based in the greater Lansing area. It uses 2021 data, which is the most recent available.

“Hospitals rely on many workers in a variety of clinical and non-clinical roles to operate every hour of the day, year-round.,” said Michigan Health & Hospital Association CEO Brian Peters. “This report demonstrates the significant number of people it takes to have a high-quality, functioning healthcare system available to all Michiganders.”

“Healthcare is a key driver of not only physical health, but the economic wellness of Michigan,” said Kris Nicholoff, executive director of the Michigan Osteopathic Association. “The Economic Impact of Healthcare in Michigan shows the extensive value healthcare provides to our state, both as an employer and in providing tax revenue for communities.”

“The same dynamics that are at play in our hospitals affect Michigan’s physician practices, which are also struggling to recruit and maintain physicians and ancillary staff,” said Tom George, MD, Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan State Medical Society. “We encourage students to consider pursuing a profession in healthcare, which offers rewarding and stable careers across a variety of disciplines.”

Demand for healthcare careers remains high. A March survey of Michigan hospitals reported more than 27,000 current job openings, including nearly 8,500 open nursing positions, 4,500 technician openings and 3,000 positions for clinical assistants from the 95% of the MHA membership who participated. The need for healthcare workers is not unique to hospitals, and is shared by physician practices, nursing and residential care facilities, home health services, ambulatory services and other healthcare organizations.

The 18th edition of The Economic Impact of Healthcare in Michigan was compiled using IMPLAN® cloud software to quantify healthcare’s significant economic impact in the state. The data represents direct, indirect[1] and induced[2] healthcare jobs; taxes paid by those workers and their employers; and salaries, wages and benefits earned. The report is an online, interactive tool that allows users to examine these economic impacts from a statewide perspective and by region, county or congressional district. It is available at www.economicimpact.org.

[1] Indirect jobs are those created to support a larger employer or industry (for example, a laundry that cleans linens for a hospital).

[2] Induced jobs are those created by the spending of people who work in the indirect jobs (for example, a restaurant waiter who serves the laundry workers).

Media Recap: Age-friendly Hospital Systems and Nursing Shortages

Sarah Scranton

Sarah ScrantonThe MHA received media coverage the week of April 24 regarding the MHA Keystone Center’s work implementing the Age-friendly Health Systems initiative throughout Michigan and how Michigan health systems are utilizing foreign nurses to fill staffing shortages.

Second Wave Michigan published an article April 27 as part of their State of Health series about efforts being made throughout the state to make Michigan more age-friendly. Sarah Scranton, executive director of the MHA Keystone Center, discussed the importance of prioritizing the needs of Michigan’s aging population and how hospitals are adopting a framework to become more age-friendly.

“Older adults have very complex needs. It’s important that the medical field prioritizes what is important to the patient, not just what they think might be wrong,” said Scranton. “It’s really all about listening to the patient and taking what matters to them into consideration.”

The Detroit Free Press published a story April 28 focusing on how Henry Ford Health and other Michigan health systems are utilizing foreign nurses, particularly those from the Philippines, to fill staffing shortages in nursing. The article referenced two data points provided by the MHA, which includes the 27,000 job openings in Michigan hospitals according to a March 2023 MHA member survey and the loss of 1,700 staffed hospital beds in the state since the pandemic began.

Members with any questions regarding media requests should contact John Karasinski at the MHA.

Crain’s Grand Rapids Business: Healthcare Jobs In-demand Across West Michigan

Brian Peters

Brian PetersCrain’s Grand Rapids Business published a story April 20 on the annual release of the West Michigan Works! list of “hot jobs,” with nearly half of the 100 high-demand careers being in health-related professions. MHA CEO Brian Peters is quoted in the story in relation to hospital workforce funding grants signed earlier this year.

The $75 million for the recruitment, retention and training of healthcare workers is part of Public Act 5 of 2023. The article also cited a March 2023 workforce survey of 95% of the MHA membership that indicated Michigan has more than 27,000 job openings in hospitals, including nearly 8,500 open nursing positions.

“Maintaining the sustainability of our healthcare workforce is a universal priority for all Michigan hospitals and health systems,” said Peters. The quote is originally from a MHA press release published March 8 following the signing of the supplemental appropriation bill.

Media Recap: Pandemic Preparedness and Hospital Mergers

Brian Peters

Brian PetersThe MHA received media coverage the week of April 3 regarding the preparedness of hospital for another pandemic and how hospital and health system merger and acquisition activity impacts healthcare.

ABC News published a story April 1 that reviewed how chronic staffing shortages and new threats to funding may undermine the ability of hospitals to respond to a future pandemic. ABC News spoke to 11 hospital associations, including MHA CEO Brian Peters. A quote from Peters is included in the story regarding staffing challenges.

“Now, nurses and others are leaving health care altogether, to companies that have signing bonuses and very high hourly rates. And so all of a sudden, hospitals are in a position where the only way we’re going to have an adequate nursing force is to work with the nurse traveler agencies,” said Peters.

Bridge published an article April 3 on the finalized partnership between Michigan Medicine and Sparrow Health System. A section of the article reviews hospital acquisitions and mergers within healthcare. Peters spoke to the general reasons why a hospital or health system may determine merging with another organization is the best decision for their community.

“We have hospitals right now in Michigan … that are struggling mightily from a financial perspective,” said Peters. They’re struggling with supply chain issues. They’re struggling with the workforce.”

“I’ve heard it said more than once and I really think this summarizes the situation well: ‘We value our independence, but we’re not going to ride our independence to our grave.’ The ultimate goal of any organization — whether it’s a hospital system or any other entity in the community — is not about maintaining your independence. It’s about maintaining your viability.”

The Detroit Free Press and Michigan Radio also published stories on a recent nursing workforce survey released April 6. A portion of a statement Peters issued in March following the appropriation of $75 million for healthcare recruitment and retention as part of Public Act 5 of 2023 was published in the Detroit Free Press story. Meanwhile, the MHA provided a statement to Michigan Radio sharing the study incorrectly identifies mandated nurse-to-patient staffing ratios as a solution to the problem of inadequate nurse supply.  Portions of the statement are included in the Michigan Radio article.

Members with any questions regarding media requests should contact John Karasinski at the MHA.

MHA Celebrates ACA Anniversary with Congresswoman Slotkin

Speakers of the Protect Our Care press conference.
Laura Appel speaks during a press conference on the 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
Laura Appel speaks during a press conference on the 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.

MHA Executive Vice President Laura Appel joined U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin and other healthcare advocates March 23 as part of a virtual press conference organized by Protect Our Care to celebrate the 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Appel emphasized the MHA’s long-standing support of the ACA and Michigan’s Medicaid expansion through the Healthy Michigan Plan, which provided millions of Americans with health insurance, provided access to care for millions of residents with preexisting conditions and saved billions of healthcare dollars. More than one million Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries are currently covered by Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program allowed by the ACA and more than 320,000 Michiganders receive coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace created by the ACA. Appel also referenced the $10 billion reduction in Medicare payments that Michigan hospitals committed to experience in order to ensure state residents have access to expanded health insurance coverage under the ACA.

Additional speakers during the press conference included Laura Bonnell, CEO of the Bonnell Foundation, and Sarah Stark, a Type 1 diabetic who benefitted from the original ACA expansion.

Media representatives from The Detroit News, WWJ Newsradio 950, WOOD TV8 and WLNS-TV joined the press conference.

A press release was published following the conclusion of the press conference by Protect Our Care and a recording of the press conference is available on the Protect Our Care Michigan Facebook page.