Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget Recommendation Released

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capitol buildingGov. Whitmer released her executive budget recommendation Feb. 8 for fiscal year 2024. The proposed budget fully protects traditional hospital line items for Medicaid and the Healthy Michigan program, continues targeted rate increases from recent budget cycles and includes new investments in workforce training and development. None of the line items important to MHA members were recommended for reductions in the recommendation.

The MHA will share additional information on the new initiatives in the coming weeks, but below are a few key pieces for MHA members.

  • New or expanded funding items:
    • Healthy Moms and Healthy Babies – $62 million.
    • Implementing recommendations from the Racial Disparities Task Force – $58 million.
    • Increased rates for laboratory services, traumatic brain injury services and other related professional services – $120 million.
    • Expanding eligibility for the Michigan Reconnect scholarship program – $140 million.
    • Building capacity for insulin production in Michigan – $150 million.
    • Discretionary mental health supports for K-12 students – $300 million.
  • Items receiving continued, full funding:
    • The Healthy Michigan Plan (Medicaid expansion).
    • Hospital Quality Assurance Assessment Program.
    • Rural and obstetrical stabilization pools.
    • Hospital outpatient rate increase.
    • Critical access hospital rate increase.

MHA CEO Brian Peters released a statement in support of the executive budget recommendation, thanking Gov. Whitmer for her continued commitment to protecting hospitals and supporting healthcare workers.

Members with questions about the budget or any other state legislation impacting hospitals should contact the MHA advocacy team.

Recapping 2022 Midterm Election Results

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Midterm election results are in, bringing new leadership to the Michigan Legislature and a returning administration at the top of the ticket. Election 2022 will bring significant change to Lansing, as Democrats will now control the Governor’s office and both chambers of the state legislature for the first time since 1984.

Below is a snapshot of some of the key election results:

  • Top of the ticket Democrats won safely. Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel all swept the top of the ticket by 8+ points.
  • Supreme court incumbents will return as well, with Justices Richard Bernstein and Brian Zahra winning reelection. Democratic-nominated justices will maintain a 4-3 advantage on the court.
  • Democrats flip a congressional seat to win a 7-6 edge on Michigan’s congressional delegation. Hilary Scholten (D-Grand Rapids) was able to defeat opponent Republican John Gibbs (R-Grand Rapids), while Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) was able to hold off a challenge from Tom Barrett (R-Potterville).
  • Democrats win majority in the Michigan House of Representatives for the first time since 2010. The new majority will be led by Michigan’s first Black speaker, Rep. Joe Tate of Detroit.
  • Democrats win majority in the Michigan Senate for the first time since 1984. The new majority will be led by Michigan’s first female Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Winnie Brinks of Grand Rapids.
  • All three of the ballot proposals succeeded handily. Michigan’s constitution will be amended to include term limit adjustments, expanded voting rights and reproductive freedom.

Overall, the legislative election results look positive for the hospital and healthcare community looking into 2023 given the stability within the executive administration and the existing relationships the MHA has established during their tenure in office. Democrats have not had a dual-chamber legislative majority in nearly 40 years, so it is expected that they will have no shortage of legislative priorities to work on.

The MHA is excited to begin working with the new leadership to address the lingering issues hospitals continue to face post-pandemic as well as having the opportunity to collaborate with legislators on new priorities. With 59 first-time legislators this year, the MHA will be working hard to build relationships with the new lawmakers in the coming days and months and encourage members to do the same.

Members with questions or needing assistance identifying their legislator should contact Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

News to Know – Week of Oct. 24

  • The last day to register online to vote in the Nov. 8 election is Oct. 24. Registration can be completed through the Michigan Voter Information Center of the Michigan Secretary of State website. Voters can still register to vote in person at a clerk’s office until 8 p.m. of Election Day.
  • The second gubernatorial debate is this Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. on the Oakland University campus between Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican candidate Tudor Dixon. Representatives from WXYZ Channel 7 Detroit, WXMI FOX 17 Grand Rapids and WSYM FOX 47 Lansing will moderate.
  • Early in person voting by absentee ballot at a clerk’s office remains available. Absentee ballots can be dropped off at a designated drop box or local clerk’s office between now and 8 p.m. Nov. 8.
  • Complimentary MI Vote Matters informational posters and the 2022 Candidate Guide are still available for MHA members. An online order form is available to request the guide and/or various sizes of laminated posters. In addition, the MI Vote Matters webpage contains up-to-date election information and social media conversations using the hashtag #MIVoteMatters afford additional insight and opportunities to discuss how the 2022 election affects healthcare. Questions regarding the election should be directed to Laura Appel at the MHA.

Primary Election Sets Field for November

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MI Vote Matters logoMichigan’s primary election was held Tuesday, Aug. 2, finalizing the November general election ballot. The 2022 midterm election is critical to Michigan’s healthcare future given the number of key elected positions up for election this year. Based on the primary results, the top of the ticket will include Democratic incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer against Republican nominee Tudor Dixon in the gubernatorial race, followed by attorney general, secretary of state, all 13 U.S. House of Representative seats, all seats in both the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives, two Supreme Court seats and local races.

Due to redistricting, several incumbent lawmakers in both Congress and the state legislature faced competitive primaries. Two congressional race outcomes of note include Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Waterford Township) defeating Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township) in the 11th district; and incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) losing to John Gibbs (R-Grand Rapids) in the 3rd district. Two districts that will not feature incumbents in November are the 10th district where John James (R-Farmington Hills) will run against Carl Marlinga (D-Sterling Heights) and the 13th district where state representative Shri Thander’s (D-Detroit) victory in the primary has him positioned as the presumed favorite in a heavily Democratic leaning district.

A handful of state legislative incumbents also lost in the primary. Redistricting had Rep. Andrew Beeler (R-Port Huron) facing Rep. Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair) in the 83rd district, with Rep. Beeler winning the Republication nomination. The same situation occurred in the Senate with Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) defeating Sen. Marshall Bullock (D-Detroit). Other incumbents who lost were Rep. Rodney Wakeman (R-Frankenmuth), Rep. Terrence Mekoski (R-Shelby Township), Rep. Richard Steenland (D-Roseville) and Sen. Kim LaSata (R-Niles).

One race that remains to be officially decided is the 34th House District Republican primary. Sen. Dale Zorn (R-Ida) received 4,774 votes, seven more than the second place candidate Ryan Rank. However, Rank has requested a recount.

A candidate listing is currently available on the MHA’s 2022 Election page online.

The MHA will also be preparing and distributing nonpartisan election resources and tools for members following the conclusion of the nominating conventions. These materials are designed to encourage voter education and participation at the local level and will be available on the MHA 2022 Election webpage. The MHA will also feature regular election updates on its Facebook and Twitter feeds using #MIVoteMatters.

For more information about the 2022 primary and general election, visit the Michigan Voter Information Center or contact Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of July 11

MHA Covid-19 update

Michigan’s COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations have increased since early July with the onset of omicron variant BA.5. Here are the latest key statistics:

  • 875 hospitalizations with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, a 20% increase since July 1.
  • 23 pediatric hospitalizations with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
  • 67.6% of all residents have at least one dose of vaccine.
  • 29.2% of kids aged 5-11 have now initiated vaccination.
  • Roughly 2% of kids aged 6 months-5 years have initiated vaccination since approval was granted in mid-June.

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.

Governor Signs COVID-19 Liability Legislation

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently signed several COVID-19 liability-related bills:

  • House Bill 5244 (Public Act 138 of 2022) amends Public Act 238 of 2020, which prohibits an employer from taking certain actions against an employee who does not report to work under circumstances related to COVID-19, to specify that the Act would not apply to a claim or cause of action that accrued after July 1, 2022. In addition, the bill will repeal PA 238 of 2020 effective July 1, 2023. HB 5244 was sponsored by Rep. Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale).
  • House Bill 6128 (Public Act 140 of 2022) amends Section 85 of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act to specify that certain conditions establishing immunity for employers whose employees were exposed to COVID-19 would not apply to an exposure that occurred after July 1, 2022. In addition, the bill would repeal Section 85 and Section 85a, which defines COVID-19 under the Act, effective July 1, 2023. HB 6128 was sponsored by Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor).
  • House Bill 6215 (Public Act 139 of 2022) amends the COVID-19 Response and Reopening Liability Assurance Act to specify that the Act, which provides immunity to a person that acts in compliance with certain federal, state and local orders related to COVID-19, would not apply to a claim or cause of action that accrued after July 1, 2022. In addition, the bill would repeal the Act effective July 1, 2023. House Bill 6215 was sponsored by Rep. Graham Filler (R-DeWitt).

Novavax Vaccine Gets FDA Authorization

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization to Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine July 13. The vaccine is a two-dose series administered three weeks apart and uses a different, older vaccine technology than is used in the messenger RNA vaccines and Johnson & Johnson shot.

Novavax’s vaccine is authorized for people ages 18 and older as a primary series. It may be appealing to those adults who were hesitant to receive another brand of vaccine due to the components or development process.

In a trial of more than 26,000 adults, two doses of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine were more than 90 percent effective at preventing symptomatic disease. For adults 65 and older, effectiveness was more than 78 percent. There were no serious side effects or safety concerns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will next decide whether it will endorse the vaccine. The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet July 19, though an agenda is not yet available.

The Biden administration recently announced that it had purchased 3.2 million doses of the Novavax vaccine. If the vaccine is recommended by the CDC, it will be made available at no cost to states, jurisdictions, federal pharmacy partners and federally qualified health centers. The MHA will keep members apprised of vaccine availability and ordering processes at the appropriate time. Members with questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth 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).

Governor’s Budget Recommendation Supports Healthcare Workers, Protects Hospitals

State Budget Director Chris Harkins presents the FY 2023 executive budget.

The fiscal year (FY) 2023 executive budget recommendation was presented to the Legislature Feb. 9 by State Budget Director Chris Harkins.

The governor’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year protects key hospital priorities and includes the significant increase to outpatient Medicaid rates that took effect in October 2020. Key elements in the proposals for FY 2023 are:

  • The continuation of enhanced outpatient Medicaid rates. For FY 2022, the increase in rates is projected to result in the continuation of funding that translates to $250 million in net revenue for hospitals.
  • The executive budget recommendation protects critical access hospital funding, the rural access pool and the obstetrics stabilization fund from reductions.
  • Disproportionate share hospital payments and graduate medical education funding are also protected from reductions, continuing to reflect the MHA’s 2016 budget agreement.
  • The state’s obligation for the Healthy Michigan Plan is fully funded, and the executive recommendation continues funding for extended postpartum coverage of 12 months for new mothers who rely on Medicaid.

The executive budget recommendation also calls for additional investments in workers, education, and licensing that include:

  • $500 million of “Hero Pay” for essential workers, which includes those who were on the front lines during the pandemic.
  • $230 million for transformational educational infrastructure to improve and promote collaboration in higher education for health science and medical education.
  • $1.1 million to establish a task force and implement its recommendations dedicated to expediting and breaking down barriers to licensure for non-U.S. medical professionals

The executive budget recommendation is in addition to the $300 million for healthcare workforce recruitment, retention and training that the Legislature approved Feb. 9 (see related article). The MHA will work with lawmakers and keep members apprised as budget negotiations continue with the Legislature in the spring. As outlined in a media statement from MHA CEO Brian Peters, this was an important first step to preserve access to care in all hospitals across the state. Members with questions may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

Vital Healthcare Workforce Funding Passed by Michigan Legislature

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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.