Normally members would have gathered on Mackinac Island for the MHA Annual Membership Meeting in late June, but the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the association to conduct its business via a virtual format this year. The Board of Trustees held its final session of the program year via video conference June 24. Presentations from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Economic Recovery Council (MERC) co-chair, past MHA board chair and retired CEO of Henry Ford Health System Nancy Schlichting led the agenda. Other discussion items included a review of the association’s ongoing COVID-19 response, a state and federal advocacy report, an update on the work of the MHA Keystone Center and the Superior Health Quality Alliance, and the support for enhanced association data collection and analytics.
Gov. Whitmer began her remarks by thanking the MHA, Michigan’s hospitals and health systems, and frontline healthcare workers for their leadership and input during this crisis, which she credited with saving thousands of lives. She noted the success Michigan has had in reducing the rate of infection and asked the hospital community to take a leadership role, as a trusted resource, in educating the public to remain vigilant and take necessary health precautions so progress can continue in opening the state’s economy. The governor also recognized the contribution of MHA CEO Brian Peters and several hospital CEO’s on the Healthcare Advisory Group of the MERC, which developed the framework for restarting the state’s economy. Schlichting followed the governor in providing a detailed overview of the council’s membership, methodology, data findings and recommendations that have informed the six phases of the state’s “MI Safe Start Plan.”
Following the guest presentations, the board assessed the association’s COVID-19 response, including a review of actions related to funding and advocacy, state and federal regulatory relief, payer regulatory relief, testing, personal protective equipment, data and communications, noting the MHA’s advocacy efforts have helped secure over $5.4 billion in federal and state funding relief for MHA members. While this funding relief has been significant, the MHA continues to advocate for additional federal relief for healthcare providers and states. The MHA has also helped secure $50 million in the fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget and is working to secure $250 million in the FY 2021 budget. However, the economic consequences of the pandemic has resulted in significant overall budget shortfalls in state budgets for both FYs 2020 and 2021, amounting to $2 billion and $3.5 billion respectively, so additional federal financial relief to states is critical.
The board also adopted a recommendation from its Enhanced Data Task Force, chaired by Tina Freese Decker, president & CEO, Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids. The task force, which was convened in August 2019, recommended that Michigan hospitals work with the MHA to share claims transaction data and create enhanced data analytics to create a voluntary approach that leverages hospital data to improve healthcare costs, efficiency, quality and transparency and addresses issues related to COVID-19, health disparities, advocacy priorities, and the burden of data collection on members. The recommendation also called for the formation of an MHA Claims Data Advisory Committee to review procedures and safeguards to protect the privacy, integrity, confidentiality and availability of any data. Finally, the board approved the new MHA membership applications of Neon, a firm specializing in innovative technology solutions, as a type 3 member and Professional Credentials Exchange, LLC, an organization providing practitioner credentialing services, as an endorsed business partner of the MHA Service Corporation. Questions regarding the activities of the Board of Trustees should be directed to Amy Barkholz at the MHA.