Governor Signs Healthcare Bills, New Licensing Bill Introduced

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capitol buildingThe Legislature acted on several healthcare-related bills during the week of May 16. The governor signed several bills into law to plan for new funding from the national opioid settlement and to allow for certain out-of-state prescriptions. In the House, testimony was taken on legislation to create a new alternate licensure process for paramedics in Michigan.

The governor signed three bills that will help guide Michigan’s use of new funding from the $26 billion national opioid settlement. Senate Bills (SBs) 993, 994 and 995 create a new restricted fund for the state to house the settlement dollars, establish a new advisory commission appointed by the Legislature and governor to oversee spending, and prohibit future civil lawsuits related to claims covered by this fund. The MHA is currently identifying treatment and prevention priorities for feedback to the advisory commission.

The governor also signed an MHA-supported bill related to the filling of out-of-state prescriptions. SB 166, introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), allows pharmacies to fill noncontrolled substance prescriptions written by licensed, out-of-state physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses. The Legislature gave the bill immediate effect, allowing pharmacies to begin filling these prescriptions May 19.

In the House Workforce, Trade, and Talent Committee, initial testimony was taken on a bill to establish an alternate licensure process for paramedics in Michigan. House Bill (HB) 6086, introduced by Rep. Jeff Yaroch (R-Richmond), would require the state to develop a new Michigan-specific certification course, separate from the currently required course from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. The MHA is opposed to HB 6086, which could have implications for a paramedic’s ability to work in multiple states. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification is currently used in 48 states and is required for all newly licensed paramedics in Michigan. No votes were held on the bill and the MHA will keep members apprised if further action is taken.

Questions on these issues or other state legislation related to healthcare can be directed to Adam Carlson at the MHA.

Prior Authorization Bill Signed into Law

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capitol buildingLegislation to decrease wait times for commercial insurance prior authorization requests was signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer April 7. Senate Bill (SB) 247, introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), will 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.

Shortening wait times for prior authorization requests has been an MHA priority for several legislative sessions. The MHA provided testimony in support of SB 247 in both chambers and shared a letter with the governor encouraging her to sign the bill. The legislation will take effect June 1, 2023.

Members with questions about SB 247 or other state legislation regarding healthcare should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

Governor Signs Broadband Funding Bill

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capitol buildingGov. 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.

The new law includes $250 million and eight new full-time positions for the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI). The new full-time positions will be responsible for developing a broadband plan that can access more federal dollars in the future. The MHA supports the MIHI funding, which will help Michigan take advantage of available federal appropriations to ensure access to reliable broadband for telehealth.

Members with any questions on SB 565 may contact Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

State and Federal Lawmakers Act on Important Healthcare Issues

During the week of Sept. 28, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget, and the Senate continued its work on several policy issues important to Michigan hospitals. In federal news, President Donald Trump signed a continuing resolution that, among other things, extends the deadline for repayment of the Medicare accelerated payment loan.

The governor signed the FY 2021 budget Sept. 30, which took effect Oct. 1. The agreement protects vital funding sources for patient care and expands access to healthcare services. In a time when other states have enacted Medicaid reductions, the MHA was successful in advocating for a significant 21.4% increase in outpatient Medicaid reimbursement rates for Michigan hospitals. It is the first such statewide increase since 2002 and will prove vital to Michigan hospitals as they continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state Senate passed the package of legislation relating to surprise medical billing, also known as balance billing, after making several changes while considering the bills on the Senate floor. Notable changes were to allow for the discretion of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services to send payment disputes to arbitration and to remove language that allowed insurers to send provider payments directly to consumers. Due to those changes, the bills will return to the House for another vote before being presented for the governor’s signature. The MHA remains neutral on this surprise billing legislation. The Senate also unanimously passed MHA-supported Senate Bill (SB) 1021, a bill introduced by Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) that would allow for Canadian healthcare licenses to be considered valid in Michigan.

In the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee, the Amy Barkholz, general counsel, MHA, testified in support of legislation to provide limited liability for healthcare facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. House Bill (HB) 6159 was introduced by Rep. Roger Hauck (R-Union Township) and would codify language similar to that found in the governor’s executive order protecting healthcare providers from liability during the peak months of the pandemic. The committee also took testimony on HB 4958 and SB 1081, bills that would define and ban nonconsensual pelvic examinations. Those MHA-supported bills were introduced by Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township) and Sen. Paul Wojno (D-Warren).

The president signed a continuing resolution very early Oct. 1 to extend the federal budget through Dec. 11, averting a government shutdown. Among its other provisions, the resolution delays the deadline for hospitals to begin returning federal funds received through the Medicare accelerated payment loan program. This temporary budget deal will extend the time for when repayment begins, when the balance must be repaid in full and when interest begins to accrue on the loans, in addition to lowering the interest rate. Michigan hospitals were slated to begin loan repayment Jan. 1, 2021, but may now wait until one year after the funds were received to begin repaying those loans.

Members with questions should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

MHA Monday Report Sept. 21, 2020

MHA Monday Report logo

MHA COVID-19 UpdateCombating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Sept. 14

The MHA continues to keep members apprised of developments affecting Michigan hospitals during the pandemic through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. …


Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule Rescinded, Protecting Significant Funding

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Sept. 14 it will rescind the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Rule (MFAR), which threatened to cut hundreds of millions of dollars of Medicaid funding in Michigan alone. …


Michigan capitol buildingState Budget Process Continues

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican legislative leaders announced Sept. 14 that they have agreed to a framework for the fiscal year 2021 budget. Details have not yet been released, but the MHA expects that funding …


Gabe Schneider testifies on behalf of Munson Healthcare in support of SB 1055.Michigan Legislature Focuses on Healthcare-related Bills

The Michigan Legislature addressed multiple pieces of legislation that impact hospitals during the week of Sept. 14. In the House Health Policy Committee, further testimony was taken on the Certificate of Need (CON) legislation that …


Michigan Harvest Gathering logoMHA Issues Call for Michigan Harvest Gathering Project Leaders

The Michigan Harvest Gathering (MHG), a one-of-a-kind emergency food program supported by Michigan hospitals, the Food Bank Council of Michigan’s member food banks and more than 3,000 community agencies, will virtually kick off Oct. 20. …


Webinar Helps Leaders and Sustainability Officers Ensure Facilities Are Safe, Efficient

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the MHA is hosting a webinar to assist healthcare leaders in ensuring their facilities are as clean, safe and well equipped as possible for patient care. Having facilities continuously in …


4Ms FrameworkMHA Keystone Center Efforts Support Falls Prevention Awareness Week

Falls Prevention Awareness Week is observed annually by the National Council on Aging, and this year’s commemoration takes place Sept. 21 to 25. The observance highlights the importance of preventing falls by using available resources …


Paul KeckleyThe Keckley Report

Health Literacy Needs a Fresh Look

“Public fatigue about Covid-19 news is problematic. Mixed messaging from elected officials about masks, social distancing and testing has confused the public. News coverage has been equally inconsistent …

Ideally, consumers depend on their physicians for the information they need, but practically it’s impossible. The public’s low level of health literacy is the issue.”

Paul Keckley. Sept. 14, 2020


News to Know

  • As the MHA recently reported, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a final rule to update the Medicare fee-for-service inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) for fiscal year 2021, which begins Oct. 1.
  • Nov. 3 is Election Day, and the MHA’s MI Vote Matters campaign has materials available for members’ use to encourage their communities to exercise their right to vote and to support healthcare priorities.

State Budget Process Continues

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican legislative leaders announced Sept. 14 that they have agreed to a framework for the fiscal year 2021 budget. Details have not yet been released, but the MHA expects that funding previously dedicated for Michigan hospitals will remain intact despite reduced state revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further information on the budget agreement is expected in the coming weeks, and the MHA will keep members informed of any significant changes. Members with questions related to the state budget may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

Michigan Launches Initiative to Provide Free Education for Essential Workers

Futures for Frontliners

Futures for Frontliners Michiganders who worked in essential industries during the second quarter of 2020 and put their health on the line for their communities amid the pandemic have earned an educational opportunity that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced during a Sept. 10 news conference.

Futures for Frontliners is a scholarship program for essential workers to attend community college tuition-free, including those without a high school diploma or equivalency. This scholarship will fill the gap between what other grants and scholarships pay for a student to receive an education and the actual cost of obtaining their diploma, certificate or degree. All essential workers in Michigan without college degrees/certificates or high school diplomas or equivalency who staffed hospitals, nursing homes and grocery stores; cared for workers’ children; provided critical police and fire services; delivered Michigan residents’ groceries; picked up trash; manufactured personal protective equipment and other key jobs during the April-June period that kept the state running are eligible for the scholarship.

The application for seeking a college degree or certificate, attaining a high school diploma or equivalency and additional program information are available at Michigan.gov/Frontliners. The application period runs through Dec. 31, with enrollment available beginning in January 2021.

As a Frontliners’ Champion, the MHA is committed to ensuring its members’ employees are aware of this exceptional opportunity. Members wishing to engage in this program should visit Michigan.gov/Frontliners.

MHA Joins Governor and MDHHS to Encourage Flu Vaccinations

Brian Flu Presser

MHA CEO Brian Peters speaks at news conference Aug. 25 about importance of immunizations.The MHA participated in a news conference Aug. 25 with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the Franny Strong Foundation and the Michigan Primary Care Association at the George W. Romney Building, Lansing, to urge Michigan residents to receive the influenza vaccine this year. As part of the event, the MDHHS launched its Facing the Flu Together statewide public awareness campaign, which seeks to increase flu vaccination rates in Michigan by at least 33% this year.

MHA CEO Brian Peters delivered remarks stressing the need to increase vaccination rates to prevent influenza outbreaks that harm community health and could overwhelm the healthcare system should they coincide with another surge of COVID-19. COVID-19 has had a significant negative impact on vaccination rates across the country — and last year, just over 30% of Michiganders got an influenza vaccine.

Peters also mention an Aug. 25 letter that he cosigned with Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director. This letter outlines how hospitals can help increase influenza vaccines this year across Michigan. Together, the MHA and the MDHHS are requesting support from healthcare systems in four specific ways to increase access and awareness of the flu vaccine. Both organizations are committed to assisting hospitals in executing these strategies.

In addition to the focus on influenza vaccinations, the governor provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19. Before taking questions from the media, she received an influenza vaccination to demonstrate the simple process.

For more information about vaccination efforts, contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

State Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Deal Reached

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On June 29, Governor Whitmer and legislative leaders announced an agreement to resolve the fiscal year (FY) 2019-2020 budget deficit. The deal uses a combination of funding from the state Budget Stabilization Fund, federal Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) and cuts to the state budget. No cuts to healthcare were announced in the information provided.

In a joint release, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and the governor spelled out approximately $900 million in spending from the federal funds for schools, hazard pay for teachers, replacement funds for colleges and universities, and new funds for local governments. Together with what was appropriated earlier in the month of June, the state will have allocated $3 billion of its existing CRF. The budget also recognizes the benefit of the enhanced federal Medicaid matching funds, which brings $340 million to the state for the current fiscal year.

The budget agreement also includes $490 million in savings to state government from various state layoffs, furlough days and budget cuts. The MHA does not believe rural hospitals or labor and delivery funding for small and rural hospitals is at risk, and we will continue efforts to ensure the appropriations for hospital Medicaid funding remain in place and continue into FY 2021. For more information about the FY 2020 budget agreement, contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.