MHA Celebrates ACA Anniversary with Congresswoman Slotkin

Speakers of the Protect Our Care press conference.
Laura Appel speaks during a press conference on the 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
Laura Appel speaks during a press conference on the 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.

MHA Executive Vice President Laura Appel joined U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin and other healthcare advocates March 23 as part of a virtual press conference organized by Protect Our Care to celebrate the 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Appel emphasized the MHA’s long-standing support of the ACA and Michigan’s Medicaid expansion through the Healthy Michigan Plan, which provided millions of Americans with health insurance, provided access to care for millions of residents with preexisting conditions and saved billions of healthcare dollars. More than one million Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries are currently covered by Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program allowed by the ACA and more than 320,000 Michiganders receive coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace created by the ACA. Appel also referenced the $10 billion reduction in Medicare payments that Michigan hospitals committed to experience in order to ensure state residents have access to expanded health insurance coverage under the ACA.

Additional speakers during the press conference included Laura Bonnell, CEO of the Bonnell Foundation, and Sarah Stark, a Type 1 diabetic who benefitted from the original ACA expansion.

Media representatives from The Detroit News, WWJ Newsradio 950, WOOD TV8 and WLNS-TV joined the press conference.

A press release was published following the conclusion of the press conference by Protect Our Care and a recording of the press conference is available on the Protect Our Care Michigan Facebook page.

MHA CEO Report — Benefits of the State Budget

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” ― John F. Kennedy

We have rightfully spent a lot of time in the past two years thanking the heroes who work in our hospitals and other healthcare settings for the incredible work they have done in the face of extreme challenge.

I want to take a moment now to thank another group of people who have recently helped our cause through their bipartisan actions; our elected officials in Lansing were extremely busy the last week of June passing the fiscal year 2023 state budget, which has since been signed by Gov. Whitmer. Our MHA mission is to advance the health of individuals and communities — and this budget absolutely provides significant help in that regard. While some elements of the new budget represent long-standing MHA priorities, others are new funding items that have the potential to reshape access to care and help our members and the patients and communities they serve.

Our MHA team does a tremendous job advocating for the importance of items such as the Healthy Michigan Plan, graduate medical education of physician residents, disproportionate share hospital funding, maximization of our robust provider tax program and Medicaid payment rates, the rural access pool and obstetrical stabilization fund, and critical access hospital reimbursement rates. Every election cycle, new legislators are welcomed to Lansing and the MHA’s efforts never stop to ensure these decisionmakers are aware of the impact these budget items play in their communities. The bottom line is the financial viability of hospitals is increasingly reliant on these important programs, and the MHA is dedicated to protecting them.

Hospital closures continue to happen across the country. However, they have occurred at a much higher rate in states that have not participated in Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act. Maintaining funding for our expansion program — the Healthy Michigan Plan — has been one of our top priorities, and the pandemic has made the importance of insurance coverage more important than ever. In short, when the pandemic hit and thousands of Michiganders lost their jobs, the Healthy Michigan Plan was there to ensure access to good healthcare.

Our hospitals that treat the highest numbers of uninsured and underinsured patients also qualify for disproportionate share hospital funding, which provides enhanced reimbursement to account for the higher costs of care. This pool is funded through hospital provider taxes that reduce the state’s general fund contribution to the overall Medicaid program.

Small, rural and independent hospitals can often experience financial challenges in a particularly acute way, thus items such as the rural access pool, obstetrical stabilization fund and critical access hospital reimbursement rates also support access to healthcare services in rural areas. Labor and delivery units typically do not contribute to positive margins, but they are extremely important for families and communities. The obstetrical stabilization fund provides additional means for hospitals in rural areas to maintain these services so expectant mothers can avoid driving exorbitant distances for these services. Lastly, the state also included $56 million in new funding to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for primary care services, which will help individuals on Medicaid receive the necessary primary and preventative care that can help prevent hospitalizations and reduce overall healthcare costs.

The top concern of hospital leaders remains workforce sustainability, and the continued funding for graduate medical education is one tool we must continue to use to maintain the physician talent pipeline that is sorely needed. At the same time, we are extremely happy to see inclusion of state funds to expand access to Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree programs at the state’s community colleges to help address the nurse talent pipeline, a $56 million line item. This proposal was supported by the MHA when it was formally introduced, and we look forward to seeing our post-secondary partners implement it to grow the healthcare workforce.

Lastly, behavioral health investments have been at the forefront of our advocacy efforts for some time and we were very pleased to see new funding to improve and enhance state behavioral health facility capacity. Michigan lacks adequate capacity to treat patients with behavioral and mental illness and this new funding is an important and necessary step to address the shortage. Included is $50 million to expand pediatric inpatient behavioral health capacity, $30 million to establish crisis stabilization units and $10 million to fund the essential health provider loan repayment program to cover behavioral health professionals.

In total, the budget includes $625 million in new investments for behavioral health funding and investments in workforce. While this will not solve all the issues impacting hospitals, it provides needed resources and demonstrates the commitment of lawmakers to a healthy Michigan. This budget also signifies that our work must continue to advocate for the resources necessary for hospitals and health systems to care for all Michiganders. Once again, on behalf of the entire MHA family, I want to acknowledge and thank both Governor Whitmer, as well as lawmakers in the state House and Senate, for their support of this latest state budget. And I would also encourage anyone who cares about access to quality, affordable healthcare to engage in the process, share your stories and input with those who can make a difference going forward. But also remember to say thank you when they support our cause.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

MHA Mourns Passing of Sen. Carl Levin

MHA CEO Brian Peters

The following statement can be attributed to Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, following the passing of former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin July 29, 2021. Levin served in the Senate from 1979 to 2015.

MHA CEO Brian PetersThe MHA offers our deepest condolences to the family of Sen. Carl Levin as we mourn his passing and remember his endless commitment to Michigan. He was an advocate for all Michiganders during his four decades in office. His support for the passage of the Affordable Care Act, as well as for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, has left a legacy where hundreds of thousands of low-income Michiganders now have access to care. He will be warmly remembered.

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of June 14

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA COVID-19 UpdateNearly 61 percent of Michiganders ages 16 and over had received a COVID-19 vaccine as of June 17, supporting the state’s decision to rescind public health orders related to slowing the spread of the disease (see below). Experts continue to urge the public to use caution, especially when around those who have not been vaccinated.

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.

COVID-19 Public Health Orders Ending June 22

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced June 17 that COVID-19 public health orders originally established to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be rescinded June 22. The recission of emergency orders issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) includes the statewide mask mandate, limitations on gathering capacities, hospital visitor requirements and mandated hospital testing protocols for staff. However, hospitals continue to have the ability to enforce infection control practices within their facilities that require such items as screening upon entry, visitor limitations and mask requirements. In addition, the mask requirement for healthcare employees remains in effect under existing rules of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Hospitals may want to refer to existing CDC guidance on masking in healthcare facilities when reviewing or developing visitor policies.

The MHA issued a statement supporting the announcement, stressing the important role that the COVID-19 vaccine has played in reducing transmission and illness. In addition, the statement specifies that hospitals will continue protocols in their facilities to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

Members with questions may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds the Affordable Care Act

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling June 17 on California v. Texas that upholds the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In response to the opinion, the MHA issued a statement to media statewide that describes the ruling as a “victory for all who believe in expanding access to healthcare.” The value of the ACA to Michigan is shown in the increase in enrollment for the Healthy Michigan Plan, which has grown over the past year by more than 250,000 beneficiaries who would otherwise have been uninsured at some time during the pandemic.

Additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to members on the MHA Community Site and the MHA COVID-19 webpage. Questions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).

MHA Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Affordable Care Act Ruling

MHA CEO Brian Peters

The following statement can be attributed to Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. 

MHA CEO Brian PetersToday’s opinion issued by the U.S. Supreme Court on California v. Texas is a victory for all who believe in expanding access to healthcare. The decision upholds the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and keeps in place a system that provides health insurance to millions of Americans, access to care for millions of residents with preexisting conditions and has launched innovative models of care that have improved patients’ lives and saved billions of healthcare dollars. The success of the ACA is apparent in Michigan, as the Healthy Michigan Plan provides over 900,000 working Michiganders with comprehensive, affordable health insurance who otherwise would be uninsured.