Behavioral Health Funding, Essential Health Provider Program Expansion is Advanced

capitol building

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.

Bills on ED Violence, COVID-19 Medication, Auto No-fault Discussed in State Legislature

Michelle Pena, chief nursing officer for Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, testifies on HBs 5084 and 5682.

The Michigan Legislature returned to Lansing the week of Jan. 24 to address several bills relevant to Michigan hospitals. In the House Government Operations Committee, testimony was taken on a pair of bills to expand penalties for assaulting emergency department employees. The House Health Policy Committee held a hearing on legislation to allow physicians to prescribe certain off-label medications to patients terminally ill with COVID-19, and a bill to make changes to Michigan’s auto no-fault insurance law was introduced in the House.

The MHA provided written testimony in support of House Bills (HBs) 5084 and 5682, which would expand the penalties for assaulting emergency department employees. In addition, Michelle Pena, chief nursing officer for Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids, testified before the committee Jan. 26 in support of the bills. The legislation would bring Michigan in line with 32 other states where it is a felony to assault healthcare workers or emergency medical personnel. HBs 5084 and 5682 were introduced by Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Owosso) and Mike Mueller (R-Linden), respectively, and would provide further protection within hospital emergency departments. The MHA offered the committee potential amendments to expand the legislation to protect healthcare workers in all care settings and will continue to monitor the legislation.

The House Health Policy Committee took testimony on 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 with the Food and Drug Administration for their condition or have already been approved to treat another diagnosis. As currently written, HB 5367 would allow off-label medications to treat COVID-19 to be prescribed only by the treating physician, and the bill would not require healthcare facilities to offer new medications or services that they do not already provide. The MHA has not taken a position on HB 5637.

Rep. Phil Green (R-Millington) introduced HB 5698 in the House Jan. 26 to modify the Michigan auto no-fault insurance law. Since the July 1 implementation of new reimbursement tiers, hospitals have faced significant issues in provider reimbursement, in addition to patients being transferred to hospitals after losing access to post-acute care. The bill seeks to clarify payments between auto insurers and providers and establish additional provisions to reimburse long-term care treatments. The legislation was referred to the House Insurance Committee. The MHA supports the bill as part of broader legal and regulatory efforts to clarify the existing law and will keep members apprised of its progress.

For more information on state legislation related to healthcare, contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.