The Michigan Legislature returned from its spring recess during the week of April 11, taking up several bills impacting hospitals. In the House, the state’s higher education budget was advanced to the appropriations committee and testimony was held on legislation to regulate the sale of the opiate-like substance kratom. In the Senate, legislation was introduced to provide for new tax credits for medical school and advanced practice nursing program preceptors. Additionally, both the House and Senate held hearings on identical bills intended to help prepare the state for incoming funding from the recently finalized national opioid settlement.
The MHA successfully advocated for the inclusion of $4.7 million dollars in House Bill (HB) 5785, the state’s Higher Education budget, which is now before the House appropriations committee. Introduced by Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Owosso), this funding will allow for the creation of a healthcare workforce collaborative between the MHA and the state’s public and private post-secondary educational intuitions. HB 5785 will support a better understanding of statewide graduates in health professions as well as current employment opportunities in healthcare throughout the state. Funding and creating a searchable, accessible repository allows healthcare employers to understand current educational trends in the state and provides prospective employees easy access to healthcare positions throughout the state.
The House Rules and Competitiveness Committee took testimony on HB 5477, which would regulate the sale of kratom in Michigan. Kratom is a substance of concern with opiate-like effects that has no approved medical use in the United States. The MHA’s Legislative Policy Panel has previously taken a position supporting the identification of kratom as a Schedule I narcotic. HB 5477 would create a license for kratom sales and manufacturing, require testing of products and require new safety warnings on kratom substances sold in Michigan. The MHA has not yet taken a position on the bill.
In the Senate, legislation was introduced to provide new tax credits for medical school and advanced practice nursing program preceptors. Senate Bills (SBs) 998 and 999 were introduced by Sens. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) and would create a new tax credit for individuals who agree to work as a preceptor for required clinical rotations. A $1,000 tax credit would be provided for every 250 hours they serve in that capacity through December 2026, capped at $5,000 per year. The MHA supports the bills, which could help increase the capacity for clinical rotations at hospitals across the state.
In both the House and Senate, work began on identical packages of bills to help guide Michigan’s use of new funding from the $26 billion national opioid settlement. The legislation was introduced as HBs 5968, 5969 and 5970 in the House and SBs 993, 994 and 995 in the Senate. Michigan is estimated to receive $776 million from the settlement, and these legislative packages are intended to plan and prepare for the state to spend those funds wisely. The packages would create a new restricted fund for the state to house the settlement dollars, establish a new advisory commission appointed by the Legislature and governor to oversee spending, and prohibit future civil lawsuits related to claims covered by this fund. The MHA is currently working to identify treatment and prevention priorities for feedback on the legislation and will continue to monitor the legislation as it progresses.
Questions on these issues or other state legislation related to healthcare can be directed to Adam Carlson at the MHA.