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.