Appel Addresses Specialty Integrated Plans with State of Reform

Laura Appel

Laura AppelState of Reform published an article May 2 that reviewed a panel discussion from the 2022 Michigan State of Reform Health Policy Conference on bills in the Michigan Legislature that would create specialty integrated plans to cover specialty behavioral health benefits. Participating on the panel was Laura Appel, executive vice president of government relations and public policy, MHA.

Appel expressed the MHA’s supportive position on Senate Bills 597 and 598 due to the need to integrate and reform behavioral health in Michigan, while also mentioning the role workforce sustainability has in that process.

“Here’s the thing about our current system, there are hundreds of people who don’t have a provider to worry about losing,” said Appel. “Our shortage of behavioral health professionals is dire. When a person is in crisis, any change is frightening, but the system is just not adequate right now.”

MHA Monday Report April 4, 2022

MHA Monday Report

capitol buildingGovernor Signs Broadband Funding Bill

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a $4.7 billion supplemental appropriations bill into law March 30. Senate Bill 565, introduced by Sen. Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo), will provide supplemental appropriations to implement a statewide broadband program. …

New Website to Help Providers Boost Childhood Vaccination

Healthcare providers have unique opportunities to increase the number of children who are up to date with childhood vaccinations to keep them safe from a multitude of diseases. Motivated by that fact, the I Vaccinate initiative has launched a new provider toolkit website to …

Cybersecurity Cannot Be Overlooked

During a time of major workforce shortages and operational challenges, staff who have the expertise to oversee cybersecurity are mostly reacting to threats instead of proactively managing risks from employees, technology, processes and third-party vendors. …

Strengthening Nursing Workforce Using Virtual Tools

Nursing leaders are continuously thinking about the nursing workforce. Once a nursing student lands on the unit floor, nurse educators must mentor them to handle such patient care challenges as why a patient might be frustrated or barriers he or she will encounter as they are caring for patients. …

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEOMHA CEO Report — Change to Our Behavioral Health System Can’t Wait

MHA CEO Brian Peters focuses on Michigan’s behavioral health system and shares MHA-recommended solutions.

Paul KeckleyThe Keckley Report

President Biden’s FY2022 Budget: The Numbers Don’t Add Up

“Amidst media attention to Russia’s month-long invasion of the Ukraine, the emergence of the new BA-2 Omicron variant and inflation which has sent consumer sentiment to an 11-year low, attention shifts to the 74-page White House Fiscal Year 2022 Budget …

“What’s also notable about this budget is the importance of healthcare in the federal budget: federal funding for Medicare and Medicaid are forecast to grow faster than overall Federal receipts.”

Paul Keckley, March 28, 2022

MHA in the News

The MHA received media coverage since March 25 on hospital and nursing workforce challenges and legislation that assists independent hospitals.

MHA CEO Report — Change to Our Behavioral Health System Can’t Wait

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” ― Henry David Thoreau

I don’t suspect that many of our Michigan colleagues are Ohio State football fans, but regardless, if you have not heard the recent NBC Today Show story of offensive lineman Harry Miller, it is a great reminder that behavioral health challenges can significantly affect individuals of all ages, races, socio-economic status and athletic prowess — even those who seemingly have it all. Miller was not only a star football player and prized recruit, but also a high school valedictorian who was carrying a 4.0 GPA as a mechanical engineering major in college and made multiple mission trips to Nicaragua to help those in need. It was a shock to those who passionately follow the team, and even to family and friends who knew him well, that after multiple suicide attempts, he finally quit football.

His parents have been effusive in their praise of the support provided by Ohio State head coach Ryan Day since this revelation — and this is no accident. Coach Day lost his own father to suicide when he was only 9 years old, which led him to become deeply engaged in behavioral health advocacy efforts that have included the formation of his own charitable foundation dedicated to pediatric and adolescent mental wellness.

Suicide represents the extreme tip of a proverbial iceberg of massive proportions, with a wide range of issues affecting more people than we likely realize. Unfortunately that iceberg is growing; while COVID-19 has occupied headlines and healthcare resources for more than two years, this global pandemic has also exacerbated the crisis of limited behavioral health access that has existed for decades in our state and beyond. While some small strides have been made to improve behavioral health coverage parity and in reducing the stigma around mental health challenges, there are nowhere near the necessary number of professionals, facilities and resources to build a system that is not only adequate, but excellent, for our residents in need. Quite simply, it is unacceptable for a state with our talent, industrious history and legacy of caring to be in this situation in 2022.

Since 1949, May has been recognized as Mental Health Awareness month. While we will join many other voices in shining a light on this issue during that month, the fact is we can’t wait another month — or another day — to address what has become a true crisis. In 2018, suicide was the leading cause of death in 10- to 14-year-olds and the second most common cause of death in 15- to 24-year-olds in Michigan. This was well before the stressors brought on by the pandemic.

Michigan’s behavioral health system is stressed to its limits. While we do have a small number of outstanding facilities dedicated entirely to mental healthcare services, as well as acute-care hospitals with special units dedicated to these services, it is simply not enough. According to data from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan published in 2020, Michigan has a total of 3,195 inpatient psychiatric hospital beds spread across dedicated inpatient psychiatric facilities and acute-care hospitals to serve adults and children. This number of beds is not adequate to serve Michigan’s population of nearly 10 million. In fact, since 1993, the number of psychiatric beds available in Michigan has decreased more than 30%. However, simply adding beds is not an adequate solution because we do not have enough of the right kind of professionals to staff these beds and serve more patients. The Research Council also reported that Michigan has “11.84 psychiatrists per 100,000 residents in the state overall and 33 of the 83 counties do not have a single psychiatrist. As of 2019, Michigan ranks third in the shortage of mental healthcare professionals, surpassed only by Texas and California.” This makes convenient access to behavioral health services in many rural communities nearly impossible.

Patients, particularly adolescents and children, have few places to turn for care after experiencing a mental health crisis. There are no child or adolescent psychiatrists in 55 of Michigan’s 83 counties. Kids and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are at risk for long stays in the emergency department — a setting that is typically not equipped to handle complex behavioral health patients. Bed availability for children and adolescents with complex needs is limited, and providers are forced to hold patients in acute-care settings sometimes for weeks or months while seeking appropriate placement for treatment. It is unacceptable for those patients, their families and the caregivers trying to manage their treatment and keep them safe. Not only is it bad for patients, but it often leads to violence against healthcare workers that is escalating at alarming levels.

The MHA and our members have been intricately involved in identifying potential solutions to address this complex system. The MHA Behavioral Health Integration Committee has been instrumental in documenting the specific challenges confronted by our members and developing guiding principles as we consider emerging public policy proposals emanating from the Whitmer administration and the state Legislature. For example, the MHA is working with the Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health and the University of Michigan to increase funding for telesupport services for primary care providers who treat children with mental illness.

Additional financial resources and cooperative planning dedicated to behavioral health could create transformational improvements to our broken and fragmented system. Based on feedback from our members, the MHA believes an appropriation to fund additional support for pediatric behavioral health, a grant pool to improve behavioral healthcare in emergency departments and recruitment support for behavioral health providers would have significant and lasting improvements in access to care and quality. This appropriation would help address a major barrier to improving access right now, which is the lack of appropriately trained and educated behavioral health providers available in Michigan. It would also help modify the way emergency departments are prepared to temporarily care for patients in behavioral health crises — especially Michigan’s children.

These resources would not fix everything. However, they would start the process and provide critically needed relief to some of the elements of our care delivery system that is crumbling before our eyes, leaving patients in the rubble. It is a good starting point in a process that will ultimately be an all-hands-on-deck affair, requiring the best efforts of multiple organizations both inside and outside of healthcare.

Change to our behavioral health system can’t wait. Let’s fix this system together, once and for all, for all Michigan patients.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or go to for additional resources.

MHA Monday Report March 7, 2022

MHA Monday Report

MHA Covid-19 update

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Feb. 28

The state of Michigan reported that 1,842 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed statewide March 3 and 4, with an average of 921 cases per day. Out of 68 recorded COVID-19-related deaths for the two days, 54 were identified during a Vital Records review. Adults in the hospital March 4 with  …

capitol building

Behavioral Health Funding, Essential Health Provider Program Expansion is Advanced

The Michigan Legislature acted on several pieces of legislation impacting hospitals during the week of Feb. 28. Some of the covered topics included behavioral health funding, streamlining prior authorization requests, increased penalties for …

Apply by March 31 for New Graduate Medical Education Residency Openings

Applications are due March 31 for hospitals to apply for new graduate medical education residency slots provided under Section 126 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Hospitals will be required to complete their applications and submit them through the Medicare Electronic Application …

Federal 100% Cost Share for COVID-19 Expenses Extended

The Federal Emergency Management Agency in February 2021 increased federal funding for COVID-19 pandemic expenses from 75% to 100%, retroactive to the beginning of the pandemic in January 2020. The agency has now extended the COVID-19 federal 100% cost share for an …

mha advancing safe care awardNominations Being Accepted for 2022 Advancing Safe Care Award

In hospitals across the state, healthcare personnel work together to ensure patients receive safe, high-quality care. To recognize Michigan hospitals that are tackling issues daily to make care safer and more dependable, the MHA …

Virtual Nurse Training Programs Available

The MHA and the Michigan Health Council are partnering on two offerings designed to strengthen the nursing workforce. The Clinical Faculty Academy is a virtual training program preparing nurses for the role of clinical instructors. The interactive training materials, based on adult learning …

MHA CEO Report — Auto No-fault: Our Work ContinuesMHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

MHA CEO Brian Peters reviews efforts from the MHA to address and reform Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance law.

Webinar Reviews CMS CoPs on Telemedicine Standards

Significant changes were recently made to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Conditions of Participation regarding regulatory standards of telemedicine because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These standards, along with 1135 telemedicine waivers and new tag numbers assigned for …

Donations Sought to Aid Ukrainian Refugees

Ukrainians affected by the ongoing crisis in their country are in desperate need of help. The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation has established a fund to provide food, medical care and emergency supplies to refugee families. The U.S.-Ukraine Foundation is a strategic organization aimed at supporting …

Laura AppelMHA Announces Senior Staff Promotions, Additions

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association is promoting Laura Appel to executive vice president of government relations and public policy from her prior role as senior vice president, health policy & innovation. In this role, which takes effect …

The Keckley Report

Paul Keckley

Telehealth at a Crossroad: Atrophy or Accelerate?

“Two explanations for the downward trend in telehealth utilization are widely offered: 1-the increased risks associated with inaccurate or incomplete information exchanged between a patient and physician virtually and/or compromised personal health information, and 2-lack of adequate reimbursement by payers. Each is valid.”

Paul Keckley, Feb. 28, 2022

MHA in the News

MiBiz interviewed Adam Carlson, senior vice president, advocacy, for a story published Feb. 27 on the $300 million funding appropriation for healthcare recruitment, retention and training recently signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Behavioral Health Funding, Essential Health Provider Program Expansion is Advanced

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capitol buildingThe Michigan Legislature acted on several pieces of legislation impacting hospitals during the week of Feb. 28. Some of the covered topics included behavioral health funding, streamlining prior authorization requests, increased penalties for assaulting healthcare workers, expanding the essential health provider loan repayment program and changes to non-opioid directive forms.

In the Senate, the supplemental funding bill that includes the MHA’s request to support behavioral health was discharged from the Senate Appropriations Committee to the Senate floor. Senate Bill (SB) 714, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson), would appropriate a total of $539 million and includes several MHA-supported one-time line items for behavioral health. Included in the supplemental bill is $100 million in infrastructure grants for pediatric inpatient psychiatric services, $20 million in infrastructure grants for hospital behavioral health intake enhancements, $25 million to prepare for the expansion of the essential health provider loan repayment program, and $30 million to expand the state’s apprenticeship program for new behavioral health staff. Shirkey’s SBs 597 and 598, which are related behavioral health bills that are also supported by the MHA, could receive a vote as early as the week of March 7.

In the House Health Policy Committee, testimony was taken on SB 247, which would make changes to decrease wait times for commercial insurance prior authorization requests. Introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), the legislation would shorten the timeline for approval to seven calendar days, or 72 hours for urgent requests, as well as ensure that emergency care can be provided without prior approval. The MHA supports the bill and provided written testimony to the committee March 3. A committee vote has not yet been held.

On the House floor, representatives voted in favor of SBs 246 and 435, which would expand the allowable use of the Essential Health Provider Loan Repayment Program. The two bills would increase the total allowable repayment from $200,000 to $300,000 and allow for certain mental health professionals to also be eligible for the program. An MHA-proposed amendment to SB 435 was added in the House that would extend the sunset on the Physician Licensure Compact, which is set to expire March 28. The bill now heads back to the Senate for a concurring vote before being sent to the governor for signature. The MHA supports the bills and will continue to apprise members of any related action in the coming weeks.

The House Government Operations Committee voted in support of legislation to increase penalties for assaulting healthcare employees. House Bill (HB) 5682, introduced by Rep. Mike Mueller (R-Linden), went through several changes in committee, with the language now doubling the fines for assaulting a healthcare employee or volunteer in any care setting. HB 5682 would also require the posting of signage in hospital emergency rooms to deter potential assaults. The MHA has developed example signs that are available to Michigan hospitals free of charge. The MHA-supported bill will now go to the House floor for a full vote.

The Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee reported another MHA-supported bill that was introduced by Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn). HB 5261 would create specific exemptions for providers to administer opioids to a patient who has an active non-opioid directive form if the medications are provided during a surgical operation or the provider deems the opioids medically necessary. The bill now awaits a vote on the Senate floor.

Members with questions on state legislation related to healthcare should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

Media Recap: Auto No-fault & Crain’s Detroit Business Coverage

MHA CEO Brian Peters

The MHA received media coverage the week of Feb. 21 on efforts to amend Michigan’s auto no-fault law and from Crain’s Detroit Business advocating for state funding support for midsize vital hospitals and behavioral health.

The MHA sent a memo Feb. 16 to the Michigan House of Representatives encouraging the Legislature to focus on improving the auto no-fault law, including quickly addressing payment issues with post-acute care providers, including a proper definition of Medicare rates, and clarifying that the reimbursement rates outlined in law were intended to be minimum amounts. The Detroit News and Michigan Radio published stories on the memo, which was signed by Adam Carlson, senior vice president, advocacy.

Adam Carlson
MHA Senior Vice President Adam Carlson

“Numerous cases have occurred of patients being transferred to hospitals who did not otherwise need hospitalization because of a lack of long term post-acute care providers to care for them in their home or an appropriate facility,” said Carlson. “In addition, it has become increasingly difficult to transfer patients to post-acute settings as the number of providers and staff has diminished. Both of these circumstances is putting unsustainable pressure on hospitals that don’t have the beds or staff to care for patients who shouldn’t be in the hospital.”

Crain’s Detroit Business also published their latest Forum edition, which includes several pieces of content relevant to Michigan hospitals. An article published Feb. 25 reviews the significant challenges facing midsize vital hospitals, particularly independent hospitals not affiliated with a larger health system. MHA CEO Brian Peters is quoted in the article discussing the financial issues impacting those hospitals. Supporting the article is an op-ed submitted by Hillsdale Hospital President and CEO Jeremiah J. Hodshire.

MHA CEO Brian Peters
MHA CEO Brian Peters

“The volume-based approach to reimbursement has always been a problem and that doesn’t go away,” said Peters.

Crain’s also published an op-ed from Peters encouraging more state funding investments to address Michigan’s broken and fragmented behavioral health system.

“The MHA believes an appropriation to fund additional support for pediatric behavioral health, a grant pool to improve behavioral healthcare in emergency departments and recruitment support for behavioral health providers will have significant and lasting improvements in access to care and quality,” said Peters. “This appropriation will help address a major barrier to improving access right now, which is the lack of appropriately trained and educated behavioral health providers available in Michigan to serve our population. It would also help modify the way emergency departments are prepared to temporarily care for patients in behavioral health crises — especially Michigan’s children.”

Members with any questions regarding media requests should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.

Vital Healthcare Workforce Funding Passed by Michigan Legislature

capitol building

capitol buildingThe Michigan Legislature passed Feb. 9 House Bill 5523, a supplemental spending bill that includes $300 million for healthcare facilities for recruitment and retention of healthcare workers. While this funding will not solve the long-term healthcare staffing crisis, it can provide some immediate relief to hospitals and their employees. This achievement comes after extensive advocacy efforts by the MHA and members to ensure funding resources to improve workforce sustainability in the short term.

The bill will now be sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for signature. Of the total $300 million appropriated, $225 million is dedicated specifically to acute-care hospitals and inpatient behavioral health providers. The MHA will serve as the fiduciary of the funds, which may be spent on healthcare recruitment and retention including, but not limited to, student loan repayment assistance, tuition assistance, training programming or a limited amount for cash bonuses. The MHA is encouraging the governor to sign this bill quickly and will keep members apprised of future progress on distributions.

The MHA published a media statement expressing gratitude to the Michigan Legislature for prioritizing this funding. Media coverage referencing the MHA include stories from the Associated Press and MiBiz.

Work will continue on a variety of other efforts to help members overcome healthcare workforce shortages. Members with questions may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

Healthcare Priorities Protected, Workforce Sustainability Addressed in Executive Budget

MHA CEO Brian Peters

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

Crucial healthcare funding sources remain protected in the fiscal year 2023 executive budget recommendation. We’d like to express our gratitude toward Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her administration for their commitment supporting rural and critical access hospitals, graduate medical education, the Healthy Michigan Plan and Michigan’s Medicaid population.

Our hospitals are also experiencing a staffing crisis that requires multiple solutions. We are thrilled to see programs that would improve retention and recruitment of healthcare workers. The proposed Hero Pay recognizes the tremendous dedication and sacrifice of healthcare workers throughout the pandemic, while the talent pipeline will be expanded through additional investments in medical education and reviewing potential licensing flexibility for foreign-trained medical professionals.

Michigan’s behavioral health system is also stressed to its limits, and we’re encouraged to see a greater focus and financial resources toward providing potentially transformational improvements to the state’s behavioral health system that can address many of the challenges patients and families currently face.

We’d be remiss if we did not thank all lawmakers and state officials who have worked tirelessly over the past two years to provide relief and support to hospitals and health systems over the course of the pandemic. As we enter another budget cycle, we look forward to continuing to engage with the Michigan Legislature to advance the health of Michigan individuals and communities.

MHA CEO Report — Our Strategic Action Plan

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.

— Dalai Lama XIV

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

At the beginning of every MHA program year (which officially kicks off every July 1), in close consultation with our MHA Board Chair and Board of Trustees, we develop a “strategic action plan” that serves as a road map for our important efforts over the coming 12 months. While the process involved in crafting the 2021-2022 plan was very similar to prior years, the environment was anything but.

One thing every Michigander surely has in common: we are all eager to see a significant decline in COVID-19-related positivity rates, hospitalizations, morbidity and mortality, and the unprecedented disruption brought about by the pandemic. Every day, we closely examine the data and – equally important – the real-time stories from the administrative leaders and clinicians in our member hospitals and health systems throughout the state. As I write this report, we unfortunately remain mired in a pandemic that simply will not fully release its grip. Hospital beds are filling up with both COVID-19 patients (over 2,000 as of today) as well as patients who likely delayed seeking treatment for a range of other, non-COVID-19 issues. Supply chain issues persist, and clinical and nonclinical staffing challenges are as severe as ever. Any notion that we are out of the woods is misguided; we must remain as vigilant as when the pandemic began.

Against that backdrop, our action plan has been designed with our association mission in mind: we advance the health of individuals and communities. The following synopsis represents just a few highlights:

  • Policy and Advocacy: Our hospitals and their front-line caregivers need fair and adequate funding support now more than ever. Our priorities here include full funding for the Healthy Michigan Plan (our Medicaid expansion plan which now covers over 950,000 Michiganders), pools that protect access in rural communities and obstetrical care, graduate medical education, and the preservation of our robust provider tax program and Medicaid payment rates. We successfully achieved all of these objectives in the budget that just began Oct. 1; in addition, the budget includes new special appropriations specific to hospitals, including $3 million to fund the stroke/STEMI system of care to mirror the trauma system; ensured a continuation of the direct care worker increase at long-term care facilities to $2.35/hour; raised ground ambulance service reimbursement to the highest possible rate, valued at $54 million; and extended funding for 12 months of Medicaid coverage postpartum to improve maternal and infant health. As soon as one budget is finalized, the planning and negotiations begin for the next – and we are already gearing up to do right by our members and the patients they serve.
  • Workforce Sustainability: We must find ways to remove unnecessary barriers that prevent the recruitment and education of qualified individuals, and we must provide our healthcare workforce with the critical assistance they need to continue caring for and supporting our communities. In the short term, the MHA has formed both a Human Resources Council and a Human Resources Subcommittee of the MHA Service Corporation Board of Directors to convene leaders in the field to closely monitor the staffing crisis and provide guidance on our emerging efforts. This is an “all-hands-on-deck” affair for the association and will be on the agendas of every MHA council, committee and task force this year. In the days and weeks ahead, you will hear more about our very specific request related to healthcare workforce sustainability in the state budget supplemental process – just one aspect of a multiprong strategy that will also include regulatory flexibility, a renewed push to join the multistate nurse licensure compact, immigration policies, expanding scope of practice, virtual health, and addressing workplace violence and burnout.
  • COVID-19: The MHA will also continue to respond to immediate COVID-19 issues, which includes continuing to promote the effectiveness and safety of vaccines. Our vaccine focus areas will also move toward third doses and boosters, childhood vaccination for those ages 5-11, federal mandates for employers and healthcare providers, and flu vaccines. The MHA will also continue to work closely with the American Hospital Association on ensuring the federal mandates provide consistency between the upcoming Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules on how the federal mandates will be enforced for hospitals.
  • Behavioral Health: The MHA has already requested $125 million to expand inpatient pediatric capacity and improve psychiatric services in the emergency department, where far too many patients have been treated due to a lack of suitable alternative psychiatric care settings and providers. We are engaging in the public policy process to make sure that those Michiganders in desperate need of behavioral health services will ultimately have access to compassionate, high-quality care.
  • Health Equity: I am proud that all Michigan hospitals and health systems have signed on to our Board-approved pledge to address racism and health inequities. Through information gained from the Health Equity Organizational Assessment (completed by 113 hospitals to date), we will now identify and implement meaningful and actionable steps to address gaps and disparities in care to support the unique needs of individuals and local communities, particularly those that are underserved.

Other important priorities in this year’s action plan include the preservation of a robust certificate of need program, prevention of harmful nurse staffing ratio legislation, development of new data collection and analysis opportunities, safety and quality improvement, physician integration and cybersecurity.

To successfully achieve all the action plan priorities – as well as effectively respond to the “wild-card” events that inevitably occur during the program year – will require all arms of our organization: our traditional trade association, our 501(c)(3) MHA Health Foundation and MHA Keystone Center, and our for-profit MHA Service Corporation and Endorsed Business Partners.  We are fortunate to have such a strong platform from which to launch our current and future efforts.

There is no doubt that the pandemic has been the biggest disruptor in my professional career. In an ecosystem that was already becoming more integrated, value-driven and transparent, the pandemic exposed all the inherent weaknesses within American healthcare delivery. Yet, throughout the past 20 months, the MHA staff and members have demonstrated our resolve and resiliency. As a result, I have full confidence that at the conclusion of this program year, we will be able to demonstrate strong success on our strategic action plan objectives and, accordingly, will have positioned hospitals to improve the health and wellness of their communities. And we will do so with love and compassion.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Senate Introduces Behavioral Health Funding, Including MHA Priorities

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State legislative action continued during the week of Oct. 25, including committee votes on bills impacting behavioral health and certificate of need.

The state Senate introduced a $350 million supplemental spending request related to behavioral health. The bill includes the MHA priority of providing $100 million to fund additional inpatient psychiatric beds and $20 million to improve behavioral health services in hospital emergency departments. The proposal also includes additional funds to attract behavioral health providers and add funding to the Essential Health Provider Loan Repayment Program that would allow psychiatrists to be added to the list of professionals eligible for loan forgiveness. The supplemental was referred to the Appropriations Committee, and the MHA encourages the Legislature to quickly pass this important funding to improve behavioral healthcare in Michigan.

On a related note, the state Senate Government Operations Committee reported Senate Bills 597 and 598 that would create new specialty integrated plans to replace the current prepaid inpatient health plans and contract with each community mental health services program to deliver physical and behavioral health services to Michigan’s Medicaid population. The MHA-supported bills were amended in committee to slow the timeline for the transition from the current system, which could now take up to eight years in the committee-approved legislation. 

The House Health Policy Committee approved four Certificate of Need (CON) bills that make no substantive changes to covered services. House Bills (HBs) 507450755076 and 5077 would require CON Commission reports and minutes to be posted online pursuant to certain deadlines and would require annual meetings of the Legislature’s Joint Legislative Committee, which oversees CON.  The committee did not make changes to the legislation from the introduced version, and the MHA has confirmed that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services does not expect the bills to hinder the success of the program. The bills will next be considered on the House floor.

The House Health Policy Committee also took testimony on HBs 526152625263 and 5264, which are related to improving the availability of an MHA-supported non-opioid directive form. The package is currently being amended based on stakeholder input and will be discussed again in future committee meetings.

Members with questions on the state budget or healthcare legislation may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.