MHA & MONL Issues Joint Statement on Harmful Nursing Legislation Introduced in the Michigan Legislature

Kim Meeker, RN, BSN, MBA, president of the Michigan Organization of Nurse Leaders.

The following joint statement can be attributed to Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, and Kim Meeker, RN, BSN, MBA, president of the Michigan Organization for Nursing Leadership (MONL).

Kim Meeker, RN, BSN, MBA, president of the Michigan Organization of Nurse Leaders.
Kim Meeker, RN, BSN, MBA, president of the Michigan Organization of Nurse Leaders.

A package of bills announced today in the Michigan Legislature has the potential to severely harm hospitals and access to important services for patients, if ultimately passed. Proponents of the legislation falsely claim this will address nursing shortages in Michigan, but those claims couldn’t be further from the truth. Michigan hospitals are trying to fill 8,500 job openings for nurses. Instituting a one-size-fits-all mandate requiring hospitals hire more nurses who do not currently exist will limit the services hospitals can offer to their communities, prolong the time it takes for a patient to receive care and hinder the ability of hospitals to respond to a crisis in fear of violating Michigan law.

Tangible, proven steps are needed to attract more nurses to Michigan. Those include passing legislation that allows Michigan to join the Nurse Licensure Compact, expanding Michigan Reconnect eligibility and increasing penalties for those who commit acts of violence against healthcare workers.

Brian Peters
MHA CEO Brian Peters.

Michigan hospitals and health systems have been hard at work addressing nursing shortages over recent years. Those efforts include:

  • Obtaining a total of $300 million in state funding that has benefitted at least 69,000 healthcare workers for the purposes of the recruitment, retention and training through Public Act 9 of 2022 and Public Act 5 of 2023.
  • Securing additional nurse training opportunities including expanded state policy allowing four-year BSN programs at community colleges.
  • Expanding Michigan Reconnect to allow funds to support Michiganders moving from a licensed practice nurse (LPN) to a registered nurse, or from a patient care technician certificate to a LPN.
  • Modernizing the scope of practice for certified registered nurse anesthetists which allows flexibility for each hospital to choose the anesthesia care model that best fits its location, staffing and resources under Public Act 53 of 2021.
  • Providing emotional well-being support to healthcare workers through a partnership with the Duke Center for Healthcare Safety and Quality that has so far assisted 5,000 healthcare workers from 144 organizations throughout Michigan.

Nursing careers not only provide stable, well compensated jobs with a set of transferrable skills that rarely become obsolete, but in a rewarding environment that truly make a difference in the lives of the patients they serve. The MHA and our member hospitals and health systems, together with MONL, remain committed to focusing on effective solutions that support Michigan nurses and ensure safe patient care.

MHA Hosts Valuable Advocacy Events

The MHA participated in several advocacy events in September, providing opportunities for MHA members to share their experiences with both current and future decision-makers.

Several MHA staff helped lead a virtual advocacy event Sept. 9 for the Michigan Organization of Nurse Leaders (MONL). Nearly 100 nurse leaders and students from across the state gathered to discuss important issues facing nurses and advocate for legislative solutions. The Health Policy Committee Chairs of each chamber, Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian) and Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), joined the group to provide legislative updates, outline future priorities and share their insight on the remaining legislative term.

Dr. Cynthia McCurren, dean of nursing at U-M Flint, and Brandy Johnson, president of the Michigan Community College Association, also joined the MONL event to provide an overview of a new model that will allow for community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees in nursing. The new funding will go toward community college and university partnerships that will allow Associate Degree in Nursing graduates to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at a community college campus. Participants also received a crash course in how to advocate as a nurse and were able to earn 2.5 continuing education credit hours for their participation.

The MHA helped prepare Michigan’s next generation of leaders Sept. 16 and 17 by leading a Healthcare Weekend for the fellows of the Michigan Political Leadership Program (MPLP). The weekend event was held in Grand Rapids and organized in partnership with the Michigan Association of Health Plans (MAHP). The MPLP fellowship is made up of a diverse group of Democrats, Republicans and Independents from around the state who all have an interest in running for office.

The MPLP fellows received a Healthcare and Lobbying 101 from Dominick Pallone, executive director of the MAHP, and Marc Corriveau, vice president of government affairs at Henry Ford Health, as well as participated in a healthcare bill exercise designed to mimic health policy committee work. The fellows also visited Hope Network in Grand Rapids and learned directly from Megan Zambiasi, chief development officer of Hope Network, as well as Mark Eastburg, president and CEO of Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. Lastly, the MHA convened a lawmaker panel of Sen. Mark Huizenga (R-Walker) and Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids) to speak on how to run a successful campaign.

Brian Peters presenting Sen. Jim Stamas with his Special Recognition Award that was originally announced July 2022.

The MHA held Sept. 21 their first ever Rural Hospital Advocacy Day. Leaders from rural hospitals across the state joined MHA staff in Lansing to meet with lawmakers and share the unique challenges they are facing. MHA members were able to meet with lawmakers that are local to their hospital service areas, as well as key legislative and health policy committee leadership. The rural advocacy day came at an important time to impact decision making during lame-duck as the MHA expects several bills directly impacting rural hospitals to move before the end of the year. Some of the key issues discussed included continued hospital staffing challenges, preservation of the 340B drug pricing program and opportunities to address emergency department crowding through behavioral health investments at the state level. During the event, Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland) was also presented with his Special Recognition Award that was originally announced July 2022.

The events would not have been possible without the assistance of MHA partners and members who helped make these advocacy events a success. Members with questions about future advocacy days may contact Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.