The Michigan Legislature took up several bills impacting hospitals during the week Feb. 7. Some of the covered topics included legislation to expand the essential health provider loan repayment program, make changes to nonopioid directive forms, new regulation for pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and transparency bills for the Certificate of Need (CON) Commission.
The House Health Policy Committee reported Senate Bills (SBs) 246 and 435 to the House floor. Introduced by Sens. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) and Mike MacDonald (R-Macomb Township), the two bills would expand the essential health provider loan repayment program. SB 246 would raise the maximum allowable loan repayment from $200,000 to $300,000 for providers who agree to serve in a health resource shortage area for two to 10 years. SB 435 would expand the program to allow mental health professionals working in a health resource shortage area to qualify for the loan repayment program. The MHA supports both bills, which were passed in the full House and now go to the governor’s desk for signature.
The approved version of SB 435 includes an MHA-proposed amendment to extend the Physician Licensure Compact (PLC) law that was set to expire in March. The PLC is an important recruitment and retention tool for Michigan hospitals that allows physicians in good standing to more easily obtain licenses to practice medicine in multiple states. The MHA will continue to advocate for the governor to quickly sign SBs 246 and 435 into law and will keep members apprised of any action.
The House Health Policy Committee also reported to the House floor House Bill (HB) 5637, which would allow physicians to prescribe certain off-label medications to patients terminally ill with COVID-19. The bill amends the “Right to Try Act,” which is intended to give patients access to medications that are still in trial at the Food and Drug Administration for their condition or already approved to treat another diagnosis. As currently written, the medications could be prescribed only by the patient’s treating physician and the bill would not require health facilities to offer new medications or services that they do not already provide. The MHA has not taken a position on HB 5637.
The full House of Representatives approved and moved to the Senate four Certificate of Need (CON) bills that make no substantive changes to covered services. HBs 5074, 5075, 5076 and 5077 would require CON Commission reports and minutes to be posted online pursuant to certain deadlines and would require the Legislature’s Joint Legislative Committee, which oversees the CON Commission, to meet annually. The MHA does not have a position on the bills and has confirmed that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services does not expect the bills to hinder the success of the program.
In the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee, members reported HB 4348, which would regulate and establish licensure for PBMs in Michigan. HB 4348 was introduced by Rep. Julie Calley (R-Portland) and is supported by the MHA to help slow the rising cost of prescription medications. The bill now moves to the Senate floor for consideration.
The Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee also took testimony on HB 5261, an MHA-supported bill 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 nonopioid directive form when the opioids are provided during a surgical operation or if the provider deems them medically necessary. No votes were taken on the bill.
Questions on state legislation related to healthcare may be directed to Adam Carlson at the MHA.