State Legislature Discusses Numerous Healthcare-related Issues

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The Michigan Legislature addressed several bills impacting hospitals during the week of May 10, including legislation to expand the essential health provider loan repayment program, remove certain positron emission tomography (PET) scanner services from Certificate of Need (CON) oversight, prohibit governmental entities from using vaccine passports for COVID-19, and provide mental health crisis hotline employees with access to inpatient psychiatric bed registry data.

Senate Bill (SB) 246, introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), would expand the essential health provider loan repayment program by raising the maximum allowable amount of loan repayment for providers in exchange for additional years of service in a health resource shortage area. The program currently allows for up to $200,000 of loan repayment for 4 years of service in those areas, and the bill would raise that number to $300,000 if the individual agreed to work for 10 years or more. The MHA supports SB 246, and the Senate Health and Human Services Policy Committee reported the bill to the Senate floor for a full vote.

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services held a hearing on SB 440, which was introduced by Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) and would remove full body PET scanner services from CON oversight. The MHA supports Michigan’s existing CON process and is opposed to the bill, which would undermine the program that ensures high-quality, accessible, cost-effective care for patients in the state. The specific technology this bill seeks to address is expected to be before the CON Commission at its June meeting. Currently, when applicants for approval of a specific service can demonstrate they meet the standards set by the CON Commission, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will approve the service. No committee votes were held, and the MHA will continue to monitor the legislation.

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Policy also reported House Bills (HBs) 4043 and 4044, which would provide mental health crisis hotline employees with access to inpatient psychiatric bed registry data. The MHA successfully advocated for language to be included that would require hotline employees to notify patients that registry data can be inaccurate and to ensure that hospitals are not held liable if  beds are not actually available for the patient. The MHA has not taken a position on HBs 4043 and 4044 but will keep members apprised of any action taken on the bills.

The House Oversight Committee held another hearing on HB 4667, which would prohibit governmental entities from producing or issuing vaccine passports for COVID-19, requiring proof of vaccination status as a precursor for a public service or imposing a penalty based on vaccination status. Due in part to a memo the MHA submitted, the committee adopted a bill substitute to ensure hospitals could continue to use the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR). The state operates MCIR, which would have been outlawed under the bill’s original language. The MHA remains opposed to the legislation, which could still have negative effects on statewide vaccination efforts. HB 4667 was reported to the House floor for a full vote.

For more information on state legislation affecting healthcare, contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.