Behavioral Health Legislation Introduced in State House

capitol building

capitol buildingNew legislation to make changes to the screening process for potential admission to inpatient psychiatric care for behavioral and mental health patients was introduced Aug. 17 in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Rep. Graham Filler (R-St. Johns) introduced House Bill (HB) 6355 to amend the Mental Health Code and make the preadmission screening process more efficient. Under the bill, preadmission screening units, whether operated by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services or Community Mental Health services programs, must provide a mental health assessment within three hours of being notified by a hospital of the patient’s need. If a preadmission screening unit is unable to perform the assessment in a timely manner, HB 6355 would also allow for a clinically qualified individual at the acute care hospital to perform the required assessment. The bill provides for reimbursement to the hospital if hospital staff provide the preadmission screening.

The MHA supports HB 6355 because it addresses the ongoing issue of long wait times for emergency department behavioral and mental health patients. This legislation should help shorten the difficult wait times between the evaluation and beginning services.

HB 6355 was referred to the House Health Policy Committee. Members with questions regarding HB 6355 should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services Receives MHA Advancing Safe Care Award

advancing self care awardThe MHA announced the winner of its 2022 Advancing Safe Care Award June 30, honoring a dedicated team at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in Grand Rapids. The award was announced during the association’s Annual Membership Meeting.

The MHA Advancing Safe Care Award honors healthcare teams within MHA-member hospitals that demonstrate a fierce commitment to providing care to different patient populations, show evidence of an improved safety culture, lead the charge for quality improvement, and demonstrate transparency in their efforts to improve healthcare.

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services set up a special care unit in 2020 for behavioral health patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and a residential unit for COVID-19-positive patients in the adult foster care system. Pine Rest was the only behavioral health facility in West Michigan accepting psychiatric patients with COVID-19 and one of only a few in the state. Inspired by healthcare workers serving the sickest COVID-19 patients, Pine Rest employees sought to ease their burden while providing high-quality behavioral healthcare.

Mark Eastburg, PhD, president and CEO, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, receives the MHA Advancing Safe Care Award.
Mark Eastburg, PhD, president and CEO, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, receives the MHA Advancing Safe Care Award.

The hospital renovated space for the unit and trained staff to use telehealth equipment, allowing patients to virtually attend groups and classes from their rooms. Clinical and nonclinical staff were trained on wearing personal protective equipment, which had previously been rarely needed. The infection prevention and risk teams developed protocols for testing patients and staff. All nurses in the special care unit were trained in collecting samples for testing, and a performance improvement project boosted their ability to assess and manage patients’ pain.

Pine Rest developed a COVID-19 Dashboard, keeping staff aware of positive patients and staff members. Information was regularly shared with the Kent County Health Department, area hospitals and statewide behavioral health units to coordinate efforts.

For more information on the Pine Rest Special Care Unit, contact Harmony Gould, vice president of hospital and residential services, at Pine Rest at (616) 455-5000.


State Senators Address Legislative Policy Panel

Sen. Jim Ananich

The MHA Legislative Policy Panel convened virtually March 23 to develop recommendations for the MHA Board of Trustees on legislative initiatives impacting Michigan hospitals.

Sen. Aric Nesbitt
Sen. Aric Nesbitt
Sen. Jim Ananich
Sen. Jim Ananich

The meeting was highlighted by separate presentations from Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint). The senators provided redistricting and political updates representing their respective political parties. With 2022 being an election year in Michigan, each senator discussed top issues for voters, including inflation and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moving to action items, the panel recommended supporting Senate Bill (SB) 680, which would give advance practice nurses that meet specific criteria full practice authority in Michigan. The panel also recommended the MHA support planned legislation that would modify requirements and reimbursement for mental health-related services at acute care hospitals. Lastly, the panel recommended the MHA support SB 811, which would allow for an extension of the temporary licensure period for speech language pathologists.

In addition, the panel received updates on issues at the state level, including the state fiscal year 2023 budget and efforts to reform the auto no-fault insurance law in Michigan. The state budget update included information on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive budget proposal presentation, signed healthcare workforce funding and a behavioral health supplemental funding bill. A presentation on the MHA Legislative Action Center was also provided, including information on how MHA members can use the tool to meet their own advocacy campaign goals. MHA CEO Brian Peters addressed the panel as well, reviewing progress made toward the MHA strategic action plan and accomplishments achieved at the state and federal levels.

For more information on the MHA Legislative Policy Panel, contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

MHA Monday Report March 21, 2022

MHA Monday Report

MHA Covid-19 updateCombating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of March 14

As Michigan begins the third year of living with COVID-19, new cases, hospitalizations and deaths are trending downward and hopes are high that a new variant will not emerge to cause another surge of disease. The state reported …

capitol buildingLegislature Advances Prior Authorization, Workplace Safety Bills

During the week of March 14, the Michigan Legislature acted on a bill to make changes to the prior authorization process for commercial insurers and a bill to increase penalties for assaulting healthcare employees and volunteers. …

Cybersecurity Member Forum Scheduled for June 2

Cyberattacks are a clear and present danger to patient care and safety and are becoming a more frequent reality. Most recently, ransomware criminals issued a public statement indicating they stand ready to retaliate against the West in defense of Russia. Reinforcing cybersecurity as part of the organization’s …

$35 Million in Grants Available for Mental Health Support

The Department of Health and Human Services announced March 9 that nearly $35 million in funding is available nationally to strengthen and expand community mental health services and suicide prevention programs for children and young adults. Grants are available through the …

The Keckley Report

Paul Keckley

Drug Manufacturers are Fighting their Holy War on Three Fronts

“The conundrum facing the drugmakers is this: insurers, clinicians, regulators and consumers believe prescription drugs work reasonably well—they trust the safety, efficacy and effectiveness of prescription drugs. But voters (83%) think drug prices are inexplicably too high, suspecting manufacturers of systemic price gauging and greed. And policy proposals tying US prices to international comparisons are gaining momentum … Pricing is opaque and under increased pressure.

“In response, drug manufacturers have escalated their war against price constraints on three fronts as they adjudicate their defense to Congress and state legislatures.”

Paul Keckley, March 14, 2022

News to Know

  • Nominations for the 2022 MHA Advancing Safe Care Award are due March 25.

$35 Million in Grants Available for Mental Health Support

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced March 9 that nearly $35 million in funding is available nationally to strengthen and expand community mental health services and suicide prevention programs for children and young adults. Grants are available through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Office of Minority Health.

The funding will be divided among seven grant programs, which are part of a larger Biden administration initiative to address the nation’s mental health crisis. More information on each of the grants is available in the HHS news release. Members with questions may contact Lauren LaPine at the MHA.

MHA Monday Report Dec. 20, 2021

MHA Monday Report

MHA Covid-19 update

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Dec. 13

A full year after COVID-19 vaccines were made available in the U.S., the coronavirus continues to sicken and kill people, with nationwide deaths from the illness surpassing 800,000. As demonstrated in a collection of headlines, Michigan’s hospitals are being stretched to treat COVID-19 patients across …

capitol buildingMichigan House Passes Healthcare Workforce Funding Bill

The Michigan House of Representatives passed Dec. 14 House Bill 5523, a $1 billion COVID-19 supplemental funding bill that includes $300 million for recruiting and retaining healthcare workers. The appropriation is a direct result of MHA advocacy efforts regarding the dire situation of hospitals confronting staff …

Bill to Codify Licensure Exemptions Awaits Governor’s Signature

The full House passed Senate Bill (SB) 759 Dec. 14 and it now awaits the governor’s signature. Introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) and supported by the MHA, SB 759 would codify a provision that has given hospitals flexibility to appropriately respond to the pandemic; however, the …

Advocacy Continues to Defend Healthcare from Harmful Federal Policies

President Joe Biden Dec. 10 signed legislation to postpone several proposed cuts in Medicare rates recently approved by Congress. The MHA and the American Hospital Association had urged lawmakers to delay the cuts that would have taken effect Jan. 1 due to …

Virtual Breakthrough

Discuss Approaches to Pandemic, Workforce Challenges at MHA Breakthrough

In a recent video message, MHA CEO Brian Peters shared his thoughts about the MHA’s commitment to helping hospitals and health systems deal with the effects of the pandemic and the value of convening in person to study challenges, learn from

COVID-19 Impact on Strategic Planning Focus of Webinar

Hospital and health system boards will face challenges as the world transitions from a multiyear pandemic to confronting an endemic disease. The industry is experiencing instability and near-constant change: innovation in medicine and service delivery, new competitors, payer upheaval, renewed scrutiny on …

Two-part Webinar Will Review Challenging Accreditation Standards Jan. 13

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other regulatory agencies are continually revising requirements that result in changes to The Joint Commission (TJC) standards. In addition, there are problematic areas that are commonly reviewed on TJC surveys that require additional education and …

MHA Creates COVID-19 Social Media Toolkit for Hospitals

As hospitals and health systems across Michigan continue communication efforts around COVID-19 and the importance of getting vaccinated this winter season, the MHA has developed a downloadable social media toolkit with posts and graphics for healthcare organizations to share across digital …

Recording Available of Event Outlining Collection of SOGI Data Best Practices

MHA members were among those who virtually attended the webinar Collection of Sexual Orientation Gender Identity Data Best Practices for the Acute Care Setting. The event was hosted Nov. 10 by the Michigan Public Health Institute, the Michigan State University Institute for Health Policy, the MHA …

Mental Health and Resilience for Health Care Workers During the HolidaysAbilitiCBT Logo

Mental health is central to everything. This is a definitive statement because it is so true. Mental health is central to our quality of life, relationships, work experience and even participation in the economy. Many people take it for granted, but if there is any benefit to the strain of the past twenty months, it is that it …

Trustee Insights Highlights Crisis Standards of Care, Community Investment

The latest edition of Trustee Insights, the monthly digital package from the American Hospital Association, is now available. This month’s issue features an article on crisis standards of care. In this severe pandemic, one of the most challenging demands that many hospitals may face is …

MHA SVP Adam Carlson speaks with WWMT-TV on SB 759

Headline Roundup: Week of Dec. 13 for COVID-19 in Michigan

The MHA has been actively fielding and responding to media requests related to the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and workforce sustainability challenges. …

The Keckley Report

Paul Keckley

Inflation and Healthcare: Prices Matter

“Medical care services- one of two components of the Medical Care Index in the United States- increased 2.1% for the 12 months ending November 2021, after rising 3.2% in 2020 and 5.1% in 2019 over the same time period …

“A one-month or one-year look-back period doesn’t tell the full story for healthcare.”

Paul Keckley, Dec. 13, 2021

Mental Health and Resilience for Health Care Workers During the Holidays

AbilitiCBT Logo

By Paula Allen, global leader and SVP, research and total wellbeing, LifeWorks, an Endorsed Business Partner of the MHA

AbilitiCBT LogoMental health is central to everything. This is a definitive statement because it is so true. Mental health is central to our quality of life, relationships, work experience and even participation in the economy. Many people take it for granted, but if there is any benefit to the strain of the past twenty months, it is that it has become clear that no one can or should ever take their mental health for granted. Since the Spring of 2020, there has been a significant decline in the mental health of working Americans.  Life and work has been filled with massive change, uncertainty and unprecedented risks and demands. People are tired.

While the holiday season is a time for celebration and connection, the work demands of this season can potentially overshadow the benefits of this time of year. When this happens, stresses can actually feel more stressful than at another time of year. Now more than ever, it is important to take stock of your situation and your opportunities. Gratitude grounds us and focuses the mind. Simple and unexpected kindness can foster the connection to someone else which changes how we experience stress.  At times, however, we might need more. With this MHA has launched AbilitiCBT. It offers evidence-based and effective mental health therapy for anxiety, depression and other issues. Two of the most important benefits are that it can fit into any busy schedule given digital access, but the process is also guided by a therapist who is there when needed, and who ensures the right path for each individual.

Mental health cannot be taken for granted. AbilitiCBT is here for you to use.

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Aug. 23

MHA Covid-19 update

The MHA continues to keep members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.

FDA Issues Full Approval of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Aug. 23 issued full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 16 and older, making it the first shot to move past the emergency use authorization phase. In doing so, the FDA reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of safety and efficacy data, reaffirming the mRNA vaccine to be highly safe and effective. The MHA issued a media statement about the approval shortly after the announcement. For children ages 12 to 15, the shot remains under emergency use authorization. Emergency authorization of this and other vaccines for anyone younger than 12 remains outstanding and could come by the end of 2021.

The required vaccine fact sheets for providers’ use have been updated and are posted to the state’s Pfizer-focused webpage.

The lack of FDA approval has been a primary talking point for individuals delaying getting their COVID-19 vaccines. The MHA is communicating with media outlets and on its social media channels about the approval and where individuals can get vaccinated, especially as children head back to school. As of Aug. 23, the rate for children ages 12 to 15 who are fully vaccinated was 30%, and the rate for children ages 16 to 19 was 39.2%.

First doses of the vaccine continue to be administered at a slow but steady pace, with Michigan having administered nearly 154,000 first doses from Aug. 1-26. Providers – especially those who see younger patients – are urged to do direct patient outreach to increase vaccination rates and ensure those who are immunocompromised get a third dose if they received an mRNA vaccine. The MHA is developing provider outreach tools for practice settings to assist with these efforts.

Members with vaccine questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

Bridge Magazine Hosting Youth Mental Health Conversation Aug. 31

Bridge Magazine, which the MHA supports as an underwriter of its Health Watch series, is hosting a free, online, one-hour conversation on youth mental health in Michigan from noon to 1 p.m. Aug. 31. MHA members are invited to participate in the online event by registering online.

The dialogue will include a description of the state of youth mental health services in Michigan as well as potential solutions for improving the availability of mental healthcare for youth and their families. Improved access to high-quality behavioral health services for Michiganders remains a top priority of the MHA, as evidenced by its proposal for an additional $125 million in the state budget dedicated to this issue. The MHA Board of Trustees held a robust discussion on behavioral health at its recent meeting, and more details on how the association will be dedicating resources to this issue are forthcoming.

Panelists for the event include Zakia Alavi, staff psychiatrist at LifeWays Community Mental Health in Jackson; Kevin Fischer, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Michigan Chapter</a>; and Tim Michling, research associate – Health Affairs at the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The hour-long discussion will be moderated by Bridge health reporter Robin Erb.

Additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to members on the MHA Community Site and the MHA COVID-19 webpage. Questions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).

Sept. 8 Safe Table to Address Mental Health and Wellbeing

The MHA Keystone Center Patient Safety Organization (PSO) is hosting a safe table focusing on mental health and wellbeing Sept. 8 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The COVID-19 pandemic challenged healthcare organizations across the care continuum. Employees continue to provide care for patients despite exhaustion, personal risk of infection, fear of transmission to family members, illness or death of friends and colleagues and the loss of many patients. Many also faced unavoidable stressors, such as long shifts, employee turnover and personal isolation.

This safe table will serve as a safe and open space for healthcare employees to discuss the hardships frontline staff are facing during the pandemic. In addition, participants will hear from Mark Eastburg, PhD, president and CEO of Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, who will share strategies to positively impact mental health and wellbeing.

Registration is available for PSO members. Questions may be directed to the MHA Keystone Center PSO.

Appel Featured in Bridge Series on Michigan’s Mental Health Services for Children & Teens


MHA Senior Vice President Laura AppelBridge Michigan published a series of articles the week of June 28 that examine Michigan’s mental health system for children and teens.

Shared in three installments, the pieces look at the strain on families, the boarding of children in the emergency department as they await treatment, and potential solutions.

The series includes Laura Appel, senior vice president, health policy & innovation, MHA, discussing the challenges that hospitals and health systems experience when providing behavioral health treatment to children and teens. Specifically, Appel discusses the constantly changing state pediatric psychiatric bed census, and legislation that would provide transformational funding to increase child inpatient psychiatric beds and to update emergency department facilities to mirror environmental features found in psychiatric facilities.

Part 1: Mental health crisis: Children at breaking point during COVID

Part 2: Emergency rooms confront ‘tidal wave of sadness’ among young patients

Part 3: A child mental-health fix takes early action, more help. Here are 7 ideas.