Headline Roundup: Price Transparency, Workforce Challenges and Contrast Media Shortages

Brian Peters

Brian PetersThe MHA responded to several media requests the week of May 16 on topics including the RAND 4.0 Hospital Price Transparency Study, hospital workforce challenges and the shortage of contrast media from GE Healthcare.

MiBiz and Crain’s Detroit Business published stories on the latest RAND report that includes multiple quotes from MHA CEO Brian Peters discussing the flaws associated with the study, including the use of Medicare as a reimbursement benchmark and the limited data set. The MiBiz story also cites recent findings from the American Hospital Association and Kaufman Hall on significantly increasing hospital expenses.

“So it’s not a comprehensive set. It’s looking very specifically at Medicare reimbursement rates, which we know in Michigan and other states as well does not cover the true cost of care,” said Peters to MiBiz. “Hospitals do everything they possibly can just to break even, at best, and still lose money on Medicare.”

Michigan Radio aired a feature on May 16 following an interview with Peters on workforce challenges impacting hospitals.

“We are losing employees to McDonald’s for a job that pays better and is less stressful,” said Peters. “And we are incredibly limited in our ability to compete with rising wages in other industries.”

Crain’s Detroit Business published an additional article May 18 on the topic that cited the Michigan Radio story and quotes Peters. Laura Appel, executive vice president of government relations and public policy, MHA, also spoke with WZZM-TV Channel 13 for a story on workforce challenges that aired May 19.

The Detroit Free Press and Fox 2 Detroit also reached out earlier in the week on the reported shortage of contrast media from GE Healthcare. A general statement was provided to reflect the varying impacts from the shortage on hospitals throughout the state.

Media Recap: Implicit Bias Training & Medicaid Maternal Health Coverage

Brian Peters

The MHA received media coverage the week of May 9 on the upcoming Public Health Code Rules requiring implicit bias training for all professions licensed or registered under the Public Health Code and the recently approved extension by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services of Michigan Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage for 12 months after pregnancy.

Bridge published May 11 a story on the healthcare industry’s reaction to the June 1 implementation date of the implicit bias training requirement. MHA CEO Brian Peters is quoted in the article expressing the positive reaction from hospitals on the requirement and their commitment to eliminate health disparities.

“There’s been no push back,” said Peters. “Everyone realizes this is the right thing to do.”

State of Reform also published May 10 an article on the increase in coverage for postpartum mothers from 60 days after birth to a full year in Michigan. Laura Appel, executive vice president of government relations and public policy, MHA, spoke with State of Reform on the importance of this coverage extension towards addressing maternal mortality and racial disparities.

“It feels counterintuitive to why healthcare coverage for women would end 60 days after they gave birth,” said Appel. “You would in no way expect coverage to end so quickly.”

Appel Addresses Specialty Integrated Plans with State of Reform

Laura Appel

Laura AppelState of Reform published an article May 2 that reviewed a panel discussion from the 2022 Michigan State of Reform Health Policy Conference on bills in the Michigan Legislature that would create specialty integrated plans to cover specialty behavioral health benefits. Participating on the panel was Laura Appel, executive vice president of government relations and public policy, MHA.

Appel expressed the MHA’s supportive position on Senate Bills 597 and 598 due to the need to integrate and reform behavioral health in Michigan, while also mentioning the role workforce sustainability has in that process.

“Here’s the thing about our current system, there are hundreds of people who don’t have a provider to worry about losing,” said Appel. “Our shortage of behavioral health professionals is dire. When a person is in crisis, any change is frightening, but the system is just not adequate right now.”

Peters Focuses on Rural Hospital Challenges in Rural Innovation eXchange Story

MHA CEO Brian Peters

MHA CEO Brian Peters

Rural Innovation eXchange interviewed MHA CEO Brian Peters for a story published April 28 that examines the challenges facing rural hospitals in Michigan.

Peters discussed staffing shortages and efforts to improve workforce sustainability, the impact of COVID-19 on hospital finances and cybersecurity threats.

“The [workforce] pipeline is going to be so important,” said Peters. “The pipeline as it exists today is not adequate, particularly in rural areas, which are significantly older than non-rural areas and have older and sicker patients. This also means that the phenomenon of folks leaving the field is felt more acutely in rural communities.”

Other healthcare executives appearing in the story include John T. Foss, vice president of operations, Mercy Health Lakeshore Campus; Steve Barnett, president and CEO, McKenzie Health; and JJ Hodshire, president and CEO, Hillsdale Hospital.

The MHA also provided comment to Michigan Radio for a story published April 27 on increasing COVID hospitalizations due to the omicron BA.2 variant.

“…[B]ut there are clear indications that the severity of illness is down and so we hope there will not be a surge of COVID hospitalizations like the state has experienced previously,” said John Karasinski, director, communications, MHA.

Media Recap: Workforce Sustainability & Strategic Partnership Legislation

Laura Appel

The MHA received media coverage since March 25 on hospital and nursing workforce challenges amplified by the pandemic, and legislation introduced in the Michigan Legislature that would eliminate the need for a second public vote to sell or lease a hospital that was previously transferred from a public authority to a private, nonprofit corporation.

The Detroit Free Press published March 25 a story that reviews the many factors that are influencing healthcare workforce shortages, particularly in the area of nursing. Laura Appel, executive vice president, government relations & public policy, is quoted in the article discussing the magnitude of workforce shortages for hospitals.

“We’ve been talking about a nursing shortage, we’ve been talking about tech shortages, whether it’s pharmacy tech or things like that. We didn’t really know what shortage was until this experience,” said Appel.

The story also include results from a recent MHA member survey that indicates more than 40,000 jobs are currently vacant at Michigan hospitals statewide.

MiBiz published March 27 an article on legislation introduced in the state House and Senate that can benefit small hospitals in Michigan that were originally formed by public authorities should they opt to pursue a merger. Adam Carlson, senior vice president, advocacy, spoke with MiBiz about the unique challenges small, independent hospitals experience and the potential benefit of strategic partnerships.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about access to care, and oftentimes that’s what you get with strategic partnerships,” said Carlson. “You really preserve the access to care that is so important. You keep your facility in your community, serving the residents of your community.”

Carlson Discusses Workforce Funding with MiBiz

Adam Carlson

Adam CarlsonMiBiz interviewed Adam Carlson, senior vice president, advocacy, for a story published Feb. 27 on the $300 million funding appropriation for healthcare recruitment, retention and training recently signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Carlson discussed existing vacancy rates at hospitals, the benefits of the funding, how funding can be used and the process for distributing the funds to hospitals.

“COVID has taken a really serious toll on the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of our health care employees in the state,” said Carlson. “(The funding) will allow us to start the healing process, provide additional recognition to workers for what they’ve done throughout the pandemic, and really recruit and retain excellent employees so our hospitals can provide safe, high-quality care.”

Media Recap: Auto No-fault & Crain’s Detroit Business Coverage

MHA CEO Brian Peters

The MHA received media coverage the week of Feb. 21 on efforts to amend Michigan’s auto no-fault law and from Crain’s Detroit Business advocating for state funding support for midsize vital hospitals and behavioral health.

The MHA sent a memo Feb. 16 to the Michigan House of Representatives encouraging the Legislature to focus on improving the auto no-fault law, including quickly addressing payment issues with post-acute care providers, including a proper definition of Medicare rates, and clarifying that the reimbursement rates outlined in law were intended to be minimum amounts. The Detroit News and Michigan Radio published stories on the memo, which was signed by Adam Carlson, senior vice president, advocacy.

Adam Carlson
MHA Senior Vice President Adam Carlson

“Numerous cases have occurred of patients being transferred to hospitals who did not otherwise need hospitalization because of a lack of long term post-acute care providers to care for them in their home or an appropriate facility,” said Carlson. “In addition, it has become increasingly difficult to transfer patients to post-acute settings as the number of providers and staff has diminished. Both of these circumstances is putting unsustainable pressure on hospitals that don’t have the beds or staff to care for patients who shouldn’t be in the hospital.”

Crain’s Detroit Business also published their latest Forum edition, which includes several pieces of content relevant to Michigan hospitals. An article published Feb. 25 reviews the significant challenges facing midsize vital hospitals, particularly independent hospitals not affiliated with a larger health system. MHA CEO Brian Peters is quoted in the article discussing the financial issues impacting those hospitals. Supporting the article is an op-ed submitted by Hillsdale Hospital President and CEO Jeremiah J. Hodshire.

MHA CEO Brian Peters
MHA CEO Brian Peters

“The volume-based approach to reimbursement has always been a problem and that doesn’t go away,” said Peters.

Crain’s also published an op-ed from Peters encouraging more state funding investments to address Michigan’s broken and fragmented behavioral health system.

“The MHA believes an appropriation to fund additional support for pediatric behavioral health, a grant pool to improve behavioral healthcare in emergency departments and recruitment support for behavioral health providers will have significant and lasting improvements in access to care and quality,” said Peters. “This appropriation will help address a major barrier to improving access right now, which is the lack of appropriately trained and educated behavioral health providers available in Michigan to serve our population. It would also help modify the way emergency departments are prepared to temporarily care for patients in behavioral health crises — especially Michigan’s children.”

Members with any questions regarding media requests should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.

Media Recap: Appel Discusses Workforce Issues

Laura Appel speaks Feb. 14 with WILX News 10.
Laura Appel speaks Feb. 14 with WILX News 10.
Laura Appel speaks Feb. 14 with WILX News 10.

Laura Appel, senior vice president, health policy & innovation, MHA, was quoted in stories the week of Feb. 14 discussing issues impacting the healthcare workforce.

Hospitals across the country are concerned about anticompetitive activity and questionable pricing from healthcare staffing agencies. Appel spoke with WILX News 10 and WXYZ Detroit on the issue, addressing topics that include a bipartisan letter sent on behalf of nearly 200 members of Congress asking the White House Coronavirus Response Team to investigate healthcare staffing agencies and claims that some agencies are taking 40% or more of the amount being charged to hospitals in profits. Appel also stressed that the concern is regarding profiteering by nursing agencies and not the wages provided to traveling workers.

“I also think that there is profit-taking and perhaps even inappropriate pricing happening from staffing agencies. We were part of an effort by the American Hospital Association to send a letter from our members of Congress to the White House Coronavirus Taskforce asking them to look into the practices of staffing agencies,” said Appel to WILX.

Appel also appears in a story from Bridge published Feb. 15 that looks at how industries in Michigan are preparing for the next possible COVID-19 wave. Appel stressed that the number one focus of hospitals is on healthcare workforce sustainability.

“We need to work on retaining the workforce we have and recruiting (more workers),” said Appel.

Headline Roundup: Workforce Funding, Executive Budget and More

The MHA responded to several media requests the week of Feb. 7 on topics including passage Feb. 9 of House Bill 5523 that provides $300 million in healthcare workforce funding, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Feb. 10 executive state budget recommendation and COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The MHA published statements on behalf of MHA CEO Brian Peters in reaction to the Michigan Legislature passing HB 5523 and the executive budget recommendation.

Below is a collection of headlines from around the state that reference the statements or include quotes from MHA representatives.

Thursday, Feb. 10

Wednesday, Feb. 9

Tuesday, Feb. 8

Members with any questions regarding media requests should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.

Media Recap: Hospital Mergers and COVID-19

Brian Peters

The MHA responded to several media requests the week of Jan. 31 that focused on the history of hospital mergers and acquisitions in Michigan and the current outlook for hospitals regarding COVID-19.

Bridge published Feb. 1 an article that looked at the impact of hospital mergers on consumers in light of the merger between Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health. MHA CEO Brian Peters is quoted in the story discussing the reasons between hospital mergers.

“The real watchword is ‘value,’” said Peters. “We want to create value and that equation of course, is cost and quality and appropriateness,” he said, adding “higher quality care costs less in the long run.”

The Detroit News published Feb. 2 a story that focuses on the future outlook for hospitals now that the COVID-19 surge driven by the omicron variant is declining. MHA Director of Communications John Karasinski discussed the statewide trends for hospitals.

“It’s clear that we’re on the downside of this omicron surge as the numbers this week are better than the prior week, but the status of hospitals does vary depending on region, bed capacity and staffing,” said Karasinski.

Members with questions on COVID-19 efforts and resources should contact Ruthanne Sudderth, and any questions regarding media requests should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.