Further Hearings Held on Behavioral Health and Guardianship Bills

The Michigan Legislature took testimony on two bill packages that would impact Michigan hospitals during the week of Sept. 20. In the Senate, another hearing was held on Senate Bills (SBs) 597 and 598, which would require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to phase-in integration of physical and behavioral health services by 2026. In the House, testimony was taken on House Bills (HBs) 4847, 4848, 4849 and 4850, which would create new regulations and certification for professional guardians in Michigan.

The Senate Government Operations Committee addressed the Senate behavioral health package, which the MHA supports. SBs 597 and 598 would create new specialty integrated plans that would replace the current prepaid inpatient health plans and contract with each community mental health (CMH) services program to deliver physical and behavioral health services to Michigan’s Medicaid population. The bills would also eliminate language requiring CMH entities to coordinate the provision of substance use disorder and school-based behavioral health services and establish a new Behavioral Health Accountability Council at the state level. The MHA provided written testimony to the committee and will continue to work with members to strengthen the bills.

The House Judiciary Committee held its second hearing on the guardianship package, HBs 4847-4850. The MHA has not taken a position on the bills but provided written testimony to the committee to voice some concerns on the potential impact to hospitals. The proposed legislation would significantly increase requirements on professional guardians and limit the number of individuals an uncertified guardian could represent. The MHA supports a strong guardianship program in which qualified individuals are available for incapacitated patients in need of a decision maker, but remains concerned that hospitals will struggle to find guardians for some patients without increased funding. The MHA will continue to discuss the package with bill sponsors and follow its progress.

Any questions or comments on this legislation may be directed to Adam Carlson at the MHA.