Gov. Whitmer signed several bills into law Dec. 22 that were supported by the MHA and passed during the lame-duck session. Among these were expansions to the Michigan Reconnect Program, legislation to allow for a new rural emergency hospital licensure designation and interstate licensure opportunities for psychologists.
House Bills (HBs) 6129 and 6130 – legislation to expand the Michigan Reconnect program – were signed by the governor. The Michigan Reconnect program is a post-secondary scholarship program designed to provide funding to learners over the age of 25 interested in pursuing credentials or post-secondary degrees at community colleges or eligible training programs. Introduced by Reps. Ben Frederick (R-Owosso) and Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing), the package allows for several additional certifications to qualify for the scholarships including high-demand healthcare credentials. The MHA was supportive of the bills and will continue to advocate for future changes to lower the age of qualification for the program.
The legislation needed for hospitals to begin converting to Rural Emergency Hospitals (REHs) in Michigan was also signed into law. Due to limited session days left, the language to allow for REH licensure in Michigan was officially included in Senate Bill (SB) 183. REHs are a new federal designation that will require hospitals to give up inpatient services in exchange for improved federal outpatient reimbursement. Members with questions about the federal rules for REH designation can contact Lauren LaPine at the MHA for more information.
Legislation to allow Michigan to join the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) was also approved by the governor. This will bring Michigan in line with 26 other states to create an expedited pathway to licensure for psychologists who wish to practice telepsychiatry across state lines. HBs 5488 and 5489 were introduced by Reps. Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian) and Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Township) and supported by the MHA to help increase access to behavioral health services in Michigan.
Members with questions on these bills or any other lame duck action may reach out to Adam Carlson at the MHA.
The Michigan Legislature was back in session the week of Sept. 26 to finish voting on a multitude of bills as committees and the full body met for the last time before the Nov. 8 election.
The Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 842, an education focused supplemental appropriations bill with boilerplate that creates a new scholarship for low-income Michigan high school graduates. The Michigan Achievement Scholarship will award qualifying students with up to $5,500 in last dollar student aid for community college, tribal college or university tuition. The program is expected to cost a total of $170 million and will be paid through with previously allocated money within the Postsecondary Scholarship Fund. The MHA was supportive of the new scholarship, which is expected to be available for the 2023-2024 school year.
Two bills that would amend the Michigan Reconnect Program were advanced from committee and passed by the full House of Representatives. The Michigan Reconnect Program is another postsecondary scholarship program designed to provide funding to adult learners to return to the classroom to pursue credentials or postsecondary degrees at community colleges or eligible training programs. House Bills (HBs) 6129 and 6130 would provide incentives for accepting previous learning credits and allow for several additional certifications to qualify for the scholarships. The MHA is supportive of HBs 6129 and 6130 and secured an amendment to the legislation to allow high-demand healthcare credentials to be eligible for the program. The bills now head to the Senate for further consideration before the end of the year.
In the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee, an MHA-supported bill related to telemedicine was advanced to the Senate Floor. SB 1135, introduced by Sen. Mike MacDonald (R-Macomb Township), would specify that previous expansions to Medicaid telemedicine coverage also apply to the Healthy Michigan Program and Michigan’s medical assistance program. Most notably, the legislation would require continued coverage for audio-only telemedicine services. The MHA will continue to monitor action on SB 1135, which would continue virtual care policies that have proved to be effective and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MHA is also monitoring action on HB 5880, which was discharged to the House Floor without a committee hearing and passed by the full House of Representatives during the Sept. 28 late-night session. A floor substitute was adopted that changed the intent of the bill, which would now require parental consent for all non-emergent healthcare services to minors. The MHA has significant concerns with how the new language could impact patient care and will oppose any further action on the bill.
Members with questions on these bills or any other state legislation related to healthcare should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.