Legislative Action Continued During the Week of Oct. 11

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Several pieces of legislation impacting hospitals were acted upon during the week of Oct.11. In the Senate, votes were taken on legislation to establish a grant program for emergency department-based medication assisted treatment (MAT). In the House, an MHA-supported bill on pharmacy wholesale distributors was reported from committee, and testimony was taken on an MHA-supported bill on background checks and a new package of Certificate of Need (CON) bills.

Senate Bill (SB) 579, which would establish an opt-out grant program for hospitals to establish emergency department-based MAT programs, was reported from committee and passed unanimously by the full Senate. SB 579 was introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) and is supported by the MHA. The Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee also approved several mental health jail diversion and transportation bills.

In the House Health Policy Committee, members voted to report the pharmacy wholesale distributors bill to the House floor. House Bill (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 supports the bill, as it would remove the requirement for additional paperwork for hospital pharmacies..

The House Health Policy Committee also took testimony on a new package of CON bills that make no substantive changes to covered services. HBs 507450755076 and 5077 would require CON Commission reports and minutes to be posted online in a timely fashion. The package would also require the Legislature’s Joint Legislative Committee that oversees CON activities to meet annually and review the report. 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.

Another MHA-supported bill was discussed in the House Judiciary Committee. HB 5358, introduced by Rep. Graham Filler (R-Dewitt), would ensure employers have access to general information for background checks. Information like birthdates is important to ensure the identity of people in certain court-related documents and maintain efficient turnaround times for necessary background checks

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

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Oct. 4

MHA Monday Report logo

MHA Monday Report logoThe number of Michiganders hospitalized with COVID-19 has continued to rise, with 1,811 adults and 35 children confirmed as inpatients Oct. 8. An additional 119 adults and six children were hospitalized with illnesses suspected to be COVID-19. Of that number, 485 adults were in intensive care units and 250 were ventilated.

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.

Pfizer Requests Emergency Use Authorization of COVID-19 Vaccine for Children Ages 5-11

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Oct. 7 that they have submitted a request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization in children ages 5-11. The FDA will review the evidence to determine whether the shots are safe and effective for this age group, and an independent expert panel will publicly debate the evidence Oct. 26. From that point, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will make their recommendation, and the CDC will make a final decision. If regulators agree, shots could be available to the 5-11 age group within a matter of weeks.

The MHA will keep members informed as new details emerge. Those with vaccine questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

Nursing Care and Recovery Center Applications Re-opened

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently released a new policy bulletin to update regulations from November 2020 that allow COVID Relief Facilities and eligible nursing facilities to retain COVID-19-positive residents. Public Act (PA) 231 of 2020 established criteria under which nursing facilities could care for COVID-19-positive residents, with the statute put into effect through MSA Bulletins 20-73 and 20-78. Facilities designated as Care and Recovery Centers or COVID Relief Facilities will need to apply for that designation on a yearly basis.

Nursing facilities that had not applied for either designation before the Dec. 1, 2020, deadline may now apply if they wish to seek accreditation. Like the previous policy, nursing facilities that have applied for COVID Relief Facility designation but have not yet received approval/denial for participation may continue to care for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Members with questions may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

Funding Available for Nursing Home Patients Awaiting Transfer

The MDHHS released a template in June to collect information from hospitals about the number of COVID-19-positive nursing facility patients who were retained by hospitals and had less than 72 hours remaining in their isolation period. The MDHHS will provide additional payment to hospitals for qualifying inpatient stays between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2021.

The additional funding was a result of the MHA’s 2020 year-end advocacy efforts that totaled $3.3 million in gross funding for hospitals through Public Act 231 of 2020. The MDHHS will pay hospitals for each qualifying day until the funds are spent and will notify hospitals if the allotted funds for the additional payment are spent prior to the expected eligibility end date. The MHA encourages hospitals to complete and submit the template through the MDHHS File Transfer portal per the department’s instructions to receive the enhanced payment. Although the application period has been open for several months, a significant portion of funding remains available. Members that need a copy of the template may contact Jason Jorkasky at the MHA.

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).