The MHA Legislative Policy Panel convened Jan. 19 to develop recommendations for the MHA Board of Trustees on legislative initiatives impacting Michigan hospitals.
The meeting was highlighted by presentations from representatives of the Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners (MICNP) and the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) on Senate Bill 680, which addresses the practice authority for nurse practitioners. Denise Hershey, PhD, FNP-BC, president of the MICNP, and Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., MD, MHS, executive vice president for health services at Michigan State University, addressed the panel in support of the bill, which would allow for a nurse practitioner to have full practice authority, including prescribing controlled substances. Pino Colone, MD, president of MSMS, and Paul Bozyk, MD, vice chair of MSMS, provided opposing views to the legislation. No formal action was taken on the issue following the presentations. The panel will be gathering more information and the topic will be on the next meeting agenda in March.
Moving to action items, the panel recommended to oppose House Bill 5414 and any future legislation that mandates additional, ongoing continuing medical education hours for physicians in Michigan.
Lastly, the panel received updates on issues at the state level, including an update on state budget supplemental negotiations that can benefit workforce sustainability and behavioral health priorities, as well as the state 2023 fiscal year budget. An additional update was shared on recently passed legislation that provides a provider licensure exemption during an epidemic-related workforce shortage. MHA CEO Brian Peters also addressed the panel, sharing a variety of ongoing activities from the MHA and the multiple service areas operating throughout the association.
For more information on the MHA Legislative Policy Panel, contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID Data Tracker, the omicron variant of COVID-19 is now the dominant strain across the U.S. The CDC’s model indicates that more than 95% of cases in the nation as of Jan. 1 may be due to omicron.
The MHA continues to keep members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.
President Announces Updated Testing and Military Personnel Strategy
President Joe Biden Dec. 21 announced the federal government will make 500 million at-home rapid tests available to Americans and will deploy roughly 1,000 military personnel to hospitals across the U.S. to help ease the stress the current COVID-19 surge has placed on providers.
The rapid tests will be free of charge and available via an online request form, after which they will be delivered to residents’ homes. The plan also includes opening new federal testing sites and sending out hundreds of federal vaccinators. These tactics will begin in January according to the White House fact sheet on this effort.
Members are encouraged to review the entire fact sheet, which discusses other elements of the plan, including the distribution of more ventilators, production increases for supplies, federal testing sites and more.
The MHA will keep members apprised as more information becomes available about what assistance will be directed to Michigan as a result of this announcement. Members with questions about federal actions may contact Laura Appel at the MHA.
Boosters Expanded to 12- to 15-year-olds; Waiting Period Shortened
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC have announced that children aged 12 to 15 may now receive booster doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.The agencies also approved a shortened waiting period from six months to five months to receive a booster following a primary series of either of the two vaccines. In addition, certain immunocompromised children aged 5 to 11 are eligible for a booster and may receive it 28 days after the completion of their initial series.
The two-month booster interval recommendation for people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has not changed.
The FDA reached its decision after reportedly reviewing data from Israel, which included information on 6,300 people ages 12-15 who received a booster shot at least five months after their initial two-dose series. The data showed no new cases of two possible side effects that had been observed in some young people who received the vaccine — myocarditis and pericarditis.
Urge Senate to Support Healthcare Staffing Funds
The MHA issued an action alert before the holidays, urging all members to contact their state senators and ask that they support critical healthcare staffing funding, which passed the state House with bipartisan support in December. As lawmakers prepare to return to session the week of Jan. 10, it is important to continue advocacy efforts.
House Bill 5523 would appropriate $300 million for healthcare retention and recruitment, which could help hospitals and other providers navigate the serious worker shortages that currently exist amid a pandemic surge. The MHA Legislative Action Center provides key messages on this issue and contact information for senators. Members with questions may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.
The new law took effect immediately and allows licensed, out-of-state providers who are in good standing the ability to render clinical care in Michigan without a Michigan license during an “epidemic-related staffing shortage” as currently identified by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
MHA CEO Brian Peters released a statement Dec. 14 applauding lawmakers for prioritizing the bill. The provision that was previously in place, activated by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, was originally set to expire Jan. 11. Members with questions may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.
The MHA has been actively fielding and responding to media requests related to the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the Omicron variant and increasing rates of violence against healthcare workers.
Below is a collection of headlines from around the state that include statements from the MHA.
A full year after COVID-19 vaccines were made available in the U.S., the coronavirus continues to sicken and kill people, with nationwide deaths from the illness surpassing 800,000. As demonstrated in a collection of headlines, Michigan’s hospitals are being stretched to treat COVID-19 patients across the state.
The MHA continues to keep members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.
Legislation Signed to Delay Sequestration Cuts
President Joe Biden signed legislation Dec. 10 to stop Medicare cuts to hospitals, physicians and other providers from going into effect early next year. As urged by the MHA and the AHA, both the U.S. Senate and House recently voted to pass the legislation.
Specifically, the bill would extend the moratorium on the 2% Medicare sequester cuts until April 1, 2022, and reduce the cuts from 2% to 1% from April 1 through June 30, 2022. The package also would stop the 4% statutory Pay-As-You-Go sequester from taking effect early next year. Other provisions in the package would mitigate a separate Medicare payment cut to physicians; delay payment cuts and private payer data reporting requirements for certain hospital laboratories; and more (see related article). Members with questions may contact Laura Appel at the MHA.
The state Legislature completed work Dec. 14 on Senate Bill 759, which allows healthcare workers licensed in another state to work in Michigan during times of great need (see related article). The MHA issued a media statement both thanking legislators for their support of licensing flexibility and encouraging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to sign the bill into law as soon as it’s enrolled.
State Approves Additional Tier-2 COVID Relief Facilities
Fifteen additional Tier-2 COVID Relief Facilities(CRFs) were recently approved by the state at a time when post-acute placements are critically needed.
Tier-2 CRFs can keep their own COVID-19-positive residents and are able to admit new residents who test positive only if additional capacity is needed and the nearest COVID Recovery Center (CRC) is more than 25 miles away or at maximum capacity with patients positive for the disease.
With the additional facilities, there are currently 27 CRFs in the state. While this is a positive development, the number is significantly lower than the more than 100 CRFs the state had approved before starting its annual renewal process in October. That process took nearly a month to approve the additional facilities. The MHA continues to advocate that the state not use an annual application process for approving CRFs due to the time involved and the delays it causes for hospital transfer.
In addition, Michigan currently has no Tier-2 CRFs north of Grayling. Therefore, the MHA isurging the state to work with facilities in the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula to quickly approve them as CRFs. Members with questions may contact Paige Fults at the MHA.
Changes Continue with Legal Action on Vaccine Mandates
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a ruling Dec. 15 ordering the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine mandate rule to resume in about half of the country while saying 24 states are not subject to the mandate. This means that the mandate is back in place for Michigan, requiring healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated.However, the suspension of enforcement of the mandate continues.
The Fifth Circuit upheld the Louisiana district court’s preliminary injunction as applied to facilities in the 14 states that are plaintiffs in the case. An additional 10 states that are plaintiffs in a Missouri case do not need to comply with the mandate while the injunction stands. Michigan is not a plaintiff in either lawsuit.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) provides a blog with the latest details of the CMS vaccine mandate cases, as well as an update on an appeals court ruling challenging the Occupational Safety and Health Administration vaccine mandate.
The recent court actions are additional steps toward the suits eventually being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. These legal actions do not impact individual organizations’ vaccine policies. Members with questions should contact Amy Barkholz at the MHA.
The full House passed Senate Bill (SB) 759 Dec. 14 and it now awaits the governor’s signature. Introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) and supported by the MHA, SB 759 would codify a provision that has given hospitals flexibility to appropriately respond to the pandemic; however, the provision is set to expire Jan. 11.
In March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs activated its statutory authority given in the Public Health Code that allows it to grant licensure exemptions “in a time of disaster” such as a pandemic. This permits licensed out-of-state providers who are in good standing and trained, educated and experienced to render medical care in Michigan without a Michigan license. The MHA greatly appreciates the collaborative work with the administration to codify this flexibility into law and expressed its gratitude in a letter submitted to the Executive Office of the Governor. The letter thanks Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her continued partnership in battling COVID-19 and urges her to quickly sign SB 759, which would allow hospitals and health systems to recruit out-of-state workers quickly and efficiently. Members with questions should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.
The MHA has been actively fielding and responding to media requests related to the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and workforce sustainability challenges.
Below is a collection of headlines from around the state that include statements from the MHA, including media clips from a press release issued Dec. 14 by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that includes a quote from MHA CEO Brian Peters.
The Michigan House of Representatives passed Dec. 14 House Bill (HB) 5523, a $1 billion COVID-19 supplemental funding billthat includes $300 million for recruiting and retaining healthcare workers. The appropriation is a direct result of MHA advocacy efforts regarding the dire situation of hospitals confronting staff shortages while responding to the current surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Also included in the bill is $100 million to create eight monoclonal antibody treatment infusion sites to be placed regionally throughout the state. The plan would improve accessibility for residents while reducing the burden on hospitals and their workforce. The state will be able use existing transfusion center infrastructure in this role. An additional $25 million is allocated to procure the antibody treatment.
However, despite MHA advocacy efforts and promising conversations with legislative leadership, ultimately the state House and Senate could not agree on a healthcare workforce funding package before they adjourned for the calendar year.
In anticipation of further work on HB 5523 and healthcare workforce sustainability in the new year, members are urged to contact their state senators to express the importance of immediately appropriating this funding upon their return from holiday break. Members can use the MHA Legislative Advocacy Center to contact their lawmakers directly on the bill.
The MHA will be conducting social and traditional media efforts, as well as advocacy work, on this critical issue for the next three weeks leading up to the Legislature’s return to Lansing Jan. 12.
Members with questions about this effort may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.
As MHA CEO Brian Peters outlines in his December CEO Report, the situation confronting Michigan hospitals is dire, with hospitalizations due to COVID-19 exceeding record highs and intensive care units full of patients — most of whom are unvaccinated. The MHA joins healthcare experts around the country in urging the public to get one of the available …
The Michigan House Appropriations Committee adopted an H-3 substitute for House Bill 5523 Dec. 8. The COVID-19 supplemental funding bill would allocate $1.2 billion in federal funds, including $300 million for recruitment and retention bonuses for healthcare settings. The appropriation is in …
The House Health Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian), reported the MHA-supported Senate Bill 759 to the full House Dec. 9. Before the bill was reported, Adam Carlson, senior vice president of advocacy, MHA, and Sean Gehle, regional vice president, advocacy and …
The Michigan House of Representatives acted on several bills related to healthcare during the week of Dec. 6. The House Education Committee supported legislation to allow community colleges to offer four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees. The House Health Policy Committee approved …
In partnership with the MHA Keystone Center, Michigan Opioid Partnership and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan has launched an Emergency Department Medication for Opioid Use Disorder Initiative and …
The MHA has been actively fielding and responding to media requests related to the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, as well as two pieces of legislation that would address the staffing crisis.
“This week, more than 800 will assemble in San Diego for America’s Physician Group’s (APG) 2021 Annual Conference. The group’s 335 member organizations seek to replace ‘the antiquated, dysfunctional fee-for-service reimbursement system with a clinically integrated, value-based healthcare system where physician groups are accountable for the coordination, cost, and quality of patient care.’”
The MHA welcomes AbilitiCBT by LifeWorks as a new Endorsed Business Partner that can help healthcare organizations support and enhance the mental health of their employees — which is especially critical now, with employee burnout and turnover reaching record heights.
MiPLUS, the Bureau of Professional Licensing licensing platform, sends an electronic copy of a provider license via email as soon as it is issued or renewed. Paper copies of licenses will no longer be automatically mailed upon issuance or renewal beginning Jan. 1.
The MHA recently submitted comments to the United States departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury and the Office of Personnel Management regarding the No Surprises Act Part 2.
The Michigan House of Representatives acted on several bills related to healthcare during the week of Dec. 6. The House Education Committee supported legislation to allow community colleges to offer four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees. The House Health Policy Committee approved legislation to require patient consent for invasive bodily exams and took initial testimony on legislation to require new continuing medical education (CME) for lead poisoning identification and treatment. In addition, the full House of Representatives voted on bills to allow Michigan to join the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) and an MHA-supported bill that makes changes for pharmacy wholesale distributors.
The legislation to allow for four-year BSN degrees at community colleges was introduced by Reps. John Roth (R-Traverse City) and John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs). House Bills (HBs) 5556 and 5557 would increase access to high-quality nurses in areas served by Michigan’s small and rural hospitals where a four-year school does not currently exist. The MHA supports the package, which will now be considered in the full House.
In the House Health Policy Committee, a vote was taken to report to the House floor legislation prohibiting invasive bodily exams without patient approval.HB 4194, introduced by Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township), is supported by the MHA.
Legislation to require new physician CME regarding lead poisoning was also on the agenda in the House Health Policy Committee. Introduced by Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids), HB 5414 would require physicians in Michigan to complete CME on lead screening, signs of lead poisoning, treatment for children and the referral process for lead cases to state agencies. The MHA opposed the bill in committee, noting that hospitals are currently focused on the implicit bias training that will become a condition for state licensure June 1. At a time when physicians and other healthcare professionals are exhausted from workforce shortages and unprecedented caseloads, additional educational requirements would be nearly impossible to undertake. The MHA will continue to monitor any action on HB 5414.
The House of Representatives voted to pass two bills to allow Michigan to join PSYPACT. This compact is a legal agreement among states that creates an expedited pathway to licensure for psychologists who wish to practice telepsychiatry across state lines. HBs 5488 and 5489 were introduced by Reps. Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian) and Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Township), respectively, and are supported by the MHA. The bills now move to the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee.
The pharmacy wholesale distributor bill passed the full House and now awaits the governor’s signature.HB 5072 was introduced by Rep. Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Township) and is a state-level effort to exempt hospitals and other healthcare entities that are under common control from a medication distribution threshold that currently requires registration as wholesalers. The MHA supported the bill in both chambers, as it would remove a requirement for additional paperwork for hospital pharmacies.
For more information on these and other state bills related to healthcare, contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.