Legislation to increase the penalties for assaulting healthcare employees and volunteers was introduced in the state House of Representatives during the week of May 1. Additional legislation was introduced to remove unnecessary provisions of the Healthy Michigan Program, Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program. Additionally, the House Health Policy committee advanced MHA-supported legislation to provide more opportunities for individuals to sign up as organ donors.
House Bills (HB) 4520 and 4521, introduced by Rep. Mike Mueller (R-Linden) and Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi), doubles the fines for assaulting a healthcare employee or volunteer while performing their official duties. The legislation was officially introduced and referred to the House Criminal Justice Committee. The bills would require signage in hospital emergency rooms to deter potential assaults, which the MHA has made available to Michigan hospitals free of charge. The MHA supports the bills and will be encouraging the committee to take swift action to address rising cases of violence against healthcare workers.
House Bills (HB) 4495 and HB 4496, introduced by Rep. Will Snyder (D-Muskegon) and Rep. Graham Filler (R-Clinton County), would eliminate unnecessary provisions in the Healthy Michigan Plan and makes changes to help ensure its long-term success. The bills remove requirements that certain beneficiaries maintain health savings accounts and pay co-pays or deductibles. Additionally, the bill removes the provision that a future administration could repeal the program if state savings are reduced. The MHA supports the legislation to bolster the program that currently enrolls over one million Michigan residents. The bills were referred to the House Health Policy committee for consideration.
Legislation was advanced through the House Health and Tax Policy Committees to allow Michigan citizens to designate themselves as organ donors on state tax forms. Introduced by Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Twp), HBs 4362 through 4364 would provide for the question to be asked on tax forms starting in the 2023 tax year. The MHA is supportive of the legislation, which is led by Gift of Life Michigan, to reverse the declining growth in individuals signing up for the donor registry. Gift of Life Michigan testified in committee that states across the country are dealing with this trend, as the pandemic and online services have led to fewer trips to Secretary of State offices. The bills now advance to the full House for consideration.
Members with questions about state legislative action may contact Elizabeth Kutter at the MHA for more information.
Crain’s Grand Rapids Business published a story April 20 on the annual release of the West Michigan Works! list of “hot jobs,” with nearly half of the 100 high-demand careers being in health-related professions. MHA CEO Brian Peters is quoted in the story in relation to hospital workforce funding grants signed earlier this year.
The $75 million for the recruitment, retention and training of healthcare workers is part of Public Act 5 of 2023. The article also cited a March 2023 workforce survey of 95% of the MHA membership that indicated Michigan has more than 27,000 job openings in hospitals, including nearly 8,500 open nursing positions.
“Maintaining the sustainability of our healthcare workforce is a universal priority for all Michigan hospitals and health systems,” said Peters. The quote is originally from a MHA press release published March 8 following the signing of the supplemental appropriation bill.
The MHA Board of Trustees met April 12 at the MHA Capitol Advocacy Center in downtown Lansing, joined by Michigan Senate Health Policy Chair Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores). Hertel acknowledged the state’s significant challenges in meeting behavioral healthcare and workforce needs and identified these areas as priorities for the Senate Health Policy Committee. Board members stressed the need for lawmakers to support policies that allow flexibility and foster innovation, such as continuing to expand telehealth options started during the pandemic and looking beyond staffing ratios toward more effective ways to meet patient care needs within a finite labor supply.
The board also heard from colleagues about a recent learning and technology exchange between Michigan health system leaders and their Israeli counterparts and had the opportunity to listen to the reflections of Shreya Desai, a neurobehavioral researcher and current government relations and health policy fellow with the MHA. Desai shared her experiences working with the MHA Advocacy Division and how it will influence her future medical career.
The board spent time providing input and direction on the key pillars of the association’s action plan, which is focused on supporting financial viability, promoting workforce sustainability, fostering health equity and addressing behavioral health needs. This strategic conversation included a review of recent state budget initiatives, including the MHA’s successful advocacy to secure $75 million for healthcare worker recruitment, retention and training for Michigan hospitals, which is the latest victory in a series of state budget appropriations that has resulted in $1.45 billion in new hospital funding since January 2020.
In addition, the board expressed support for ongoing efforts to work with the state to maximize the federal Medicaid match to increase overall Medicaid reimbursement rates and funding for targeted services such as obstetrics, outpatient, psychiatric and trauma care. In furtherance of workforce sustainability, the board supported the association’s social media campaign to promote and increase awareness of a broad range of healthcare careers. The board also engaged in a discussion of health equity and the association’s continued work to assist members in eliminating disparities in healthcare through the leadership of the MHA Health Equity Taskforce. Improving access and funding for behavioral health continues to be a key priority for the association and board members provided input to the MHA on data collection efforts to advance advocacy strategies to reduce emergency department wait times for patients seeking inpatient psychiatric care. Finally, the board approved Type 2B association membership for Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health.
For more information about the actions of the MHA Board of Trustees, contact Amy Barkholz at the MHA.
The Michigan Legislature passed a supplemental appropriation bill the week of Feb. 27 that included $75 million to help address the ongoing staffing crisis in hospitals. The appropriation was part of House Bill 4016. Hospitals were allocated the funds for recruitment, retention and training of healthcare workers.
After Gov. Whitmer signs HB 4016, the MHA will work closely with the administration to allocate the funds once they are made available by the state.
The MHA also published a media statement March 1 on the behalf of MHA CEO Brian Peters to thank the legislature for acting. “On behalf of our member hospitals and health systems, we are very thankful our partners in the Michigan Legislature recognized this need and continue to be involved in developing solutions to retain and expand healthcare talent in Michigan.” The statement was published in a Crain’s Detroit Business article.
Members with questions about workforce funding may contact Adam Carlson.
The MHA continues to utilize public healthcare ambassadors, referred to as MiCare Champions, to advocate for public policy needs for Michigan hospitals and health systems.
The MiCareMatters campaign originally launched in 2017 with the aim to educate the public about Michigan hospitals’ efforts to lead the way to create healthy, thriving communities and to build a network of citizens – “MiCare Champions” – who want to engage in advocacy efforts to protect access to adorable healthcare services in Michigan. There are more than 450 active MiCare Champions that have collectively contacted their lawmakers thousands of times about healthcare issues in recent years.
The MHA currently has an action alert available for individuals to contact their state lawmakers to advocate for the MHA’s legislative request for an additional $112.5 million in American Rescue Plan funding to address the accelerating crisis created by a lack of healthcare professionals available to care for Michigan patients and $85 million to enhance the safety of the workforce. Continued messages to state lawmakers are important to signal the value of this request to hospitals and communities throughout the state.
The MHA is also utilizing MiCare Champions to solicit stories about how healthcare workers at Michigan hospitals have positively impacted them as patients or family members of patients. Stories can be submitted to the MHA and will be used by the MHA in the on-going public awareness campaign to tell the story of how hospitals continue to provide high quality care despite existing financial and staffing challenges.
“Staffing shortages are impacting Michigan hospitals throughout the state, particularly in the areas of nursing,” said Peters. “This plan will help us get more highly-skilled professionals into the field quickly and increase access to nursing education in more communities across the state.”
Crain’s also published an editorial July 22 focusing on the investments being made to improve mental health treatment, particularly among children and teens. The editorial also included a quote from Peters from an op-ed Crain’s published in February from Peters.
“While we do have a small number of outstanding facilities dedicated entirely to mental health care services, and acute-care hospitals have dedicated resources and units to these services, it is simply not enough,” said Peters.
Gov. Whitmer signed July 20 the fiscal year 2023 state budget. Included in the 2023 budget agreement is $625 million in new investments for behavioral health funding and the healthcare workforce. This includes:
$50 million to expand pediatric inpatient mental and behavioral health capacity throughout the state.
$30 million to establish crisis stabilization units for mental and behavioral healthcare.
$10 million to fund the essential health provider loan repayment program to cover behavioral and mental health professionals.
New and ongoing funding of $3.5 million to support the statewide trauma system.
$56 million to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for primary care clinician services.
Additionally, the state budget provides the resources necessary for hospitals and health systems to continue advancing the health of individuals and communities throughout Michigan. Specifically, the budget reflects the protection or enhancement of many MHA priorities, including:
Maintains funding for the Healthy Michigan Plan.
Protects funding for the graduate medical education of physician residents.
Supports disproportionate share hospitals.
Continues funding for the rural access pool and obstetrical stabilization fund.
Each of these funding sources are instrumental to keeping hospitals financially secure, particularly those serving vulnerable and underserved populations. MHA CEO Brian Peters released a statement July 1 applauding the healthcare focus of this budget and highlighting significant investments toward rural and behavioral health. These new appropriations will allow hospitals to continue and expand upon service lines that are in increased demand due to the pandemic.
The governor also made several line-item vetoes that do not directly impact hospital priorities when signing the budget, including vetoes of funding the administration argues is anti-abortion.
The MHA Graduate Medical Education (GME) Advocacy Day welcomed 32 physician residents from more than a dozen member hospitals to the MHA Capitol Advocacy Center offices May 5 for a day of meetings with members of the Michigan Legislature and their staffs. Each group of residents met with a combination of lawmakers and legislative staff throughout the day, with conversations focusing on the importance of GME funding and the role it plays in Michigan’s healthcare workforce talent pipeline.
Meetings were held in the Michigan Capitol, the Anderson House Office Building and the Senate Binsfeld Office Building. Most of the meetings involved current members of both the House and Senate health policy committees, which is where the majority of healthcare legislation originates. Participating lawmaker offices included those of Senate Health Policy Minority Vice Chair Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), Senate Health Policy member Sen. Kim LaSata (R-Niles), House Health Policy Majority Vice Chair Luke Meerman (R-Coopersville) and House Health Policy Minority Vice Chair Angela Witwer (D-Delta Township).
Residents used and shared with lawmakers an infographic that provides facts regarding GME and the healthcare workforce shortage. With the nation experiencing a shortage of healthcare workers, residents reinforced the value of GME investment and physician residency training to help address physician shortages.
Members with questions on GME and state legislation related to the healthcare workforce should contact Elizabeth Kutter at the MHA.