Legislature Passes State Budget That Protects Healthcare Funding

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Michigan CapitolThe Michigan Legislature approved Sept. 22 the fiscal year (FY) 2022 state budget. The governor has indicated support for the budget that goes into effect Oct. 1, and the agreement protects vital funding sources for patient care in Michigan hospitals and expands access to healthcare services. The MHA published a statement on the passage of the budget Sept. 22.

Specifically, the budget reflects the protection or enhancement of many MHA priorities:

  • Continues enhanced outpatient Medicaid rates. For FY 2022, the increase in rates is projected to result in the continuation of funding that translates to $270 million in net revenue for hospitals.
  • Protects funding for the rural access pool and obstetrical stabilization fund.
  • Continues to maintain funding for disproportionate share hospitals (DSH) and graduate medical education (GME), pursuant to the MHA board-supported multiyear budget agreement.
  • Fully funds the Healthy Michigan Plan.
  • Continues the additional $2.35 hourly wage increase for direct care workers at skilled nursing facilities and enhanced reimbursement for ground ambulance services to reimburse at 100% of the Medicare rate.
  • Continues expanded Medicaid coverage for women up to 12 months postpartum.
  • Adds $3 million in new funding to set up a statewide system of care for stroke and ST-elevated myocardial infarction (STEMI) emergencies within the existing statewide trauma system.

In addition, nearly $10 billion in state and federal funding is still available that will be allocated through a supplemental budget process. The MHA will advocate the state use portions of the funding to address the association’s behavioral health priorities and workforce issues.

Members with questions on the state budget may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

Safe Table Focuses on Rural Health and Opioids

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Twenty MHA Keystone Center Patient Safety Organization members participated in a virtual Rural Health and Opioids Safe Table Nov. 17. Safe tables encourage peer-to-peer guidance by offering legally protected, confidential environments for discussion around sensitive topics.

In addition to the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of reports from national, state and local media suggest increases in opioid and other drug-related mortality. The pandemic has exacerbated the nation’s opioid epidemic, which has grown even more complicated and deadly. Participants engaged in conversations about how the pandemic has highlighted socioeconomic factors that negatively impact patient populations, such as patients who do not have access to transportation for their appointments.

The Northern Michigan Opioid Response Consortium (NMORC) and the MHA Keystone Center also presented current efforts to address opioid misuse. NMORC is focusing on improving poor economic factors, prescribing patterns and expanding statewide distribution of naloxone, a medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose.

The MHA Keystone Center discussed its partnership with the Michigan Center for Rural Health to offer providers training on opioid-related academic detailing, which is peer-to-peer educational outreach focused on delivering evidence-based information in a dynamic, engaging and clinician-centric way. Members with questions may contact the MHA Keystone Center.

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of June 29

MHA Covid-19 update

The MHA continues to keep members apprised of developments during the pandemic through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates on how the pandemic is affecting Michigan hospitals are outlined below.

State Budget Deficit Deal Contains no Healthcare Cuts

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders announced June 29 they reached an agreement to resolve the fiscal year (FY) 2019-2020 budget deficit. The deal uses a combination of funding from the state Budget Stabilization Fund, federal Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) and cuts to the state budget. No cuts to healthcare were announced in the information provided.

In a joint release, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and the governor spelled out approximately $900 million in spending from the federal funds for schools, hazard pay for teachers, replacement funds for colleges and universities, and new funds for local governments. Together with what was appropriated earlier in June, the state will have allocated $3 billion of its existing CRF. The budget also recognizes the benefit of the enhanced federal Medicaid matching funds, which brings $340 million to the state for the current fiscal year.

The budget agreement includes $490 million in savings to state government. This includes state layoffs, furlough days and budget cuts. The MHA does not believe rural hospitals or labor and delivery funding for small and rural hospitals is at risk. The association will continue its efforts to ensure the appropriations for hospital Medicaid funding remain in place and continue into FY 2021. For more information about the FY 2020 budget agreement, contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

Additional Allocation and Guidance Announced for Remdesivir

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced June 29 an agreement with drug maker Gilead Sciences to allow U.S. hospitals to purchase, through September, up to 500,000 treatment courses of remdesivir, the antiviral drug that has shown encouraging results in treating COVID-19 patients. As with the 120,000 treatment courses donated earlier by the drug maker, the HHS and state health departments will allocate them based on hospitalization data.

Under the agreement, hospitals will pay no more than the wholesale acquisition price for the drug, up to $3,200 per five-day treatment course. To make future allocations of remdesivir, the HHS will be asking hospitals and health systems to submit data every two weeks.

The state of Michigan recently updated guidance for the use of remdesivir, which is available through the June 30 COVID-19 update that was emailed to members. The state is also asking for the completion of a two-part survey during treatment. Part 1 of the survey identifies the patient's profile and demographics and is due within 24 hours of starting the medication. Part 2 is a patient follow-up survey that captures outcome data. Members with questions may contact Laura Appel at the MHA.

One COVID-19 Data Submission Can Now Fulfill EMResource and NHSN Requirements

The state of Michigan has started the process of uploading COVID-19 data from EMResource into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) COVID-19 Module. This process will allow hospitals to enter data in the EMResource system with no duplicate data entry into the NHSN COVID-19 Module.

To facilitate this, hospitals must enter the NHSN ID associated with each facility in EMResource, ensure the mandatory baseline data elements have been entered, and update within 24 hours any EMResource data elements that correspond to the NHSN COVID-19 Module data elements. The upload process will occur daily for data entered by 5 p.m. Hospitals should log into the NHSN system the following day to verify the data was uploaded correctly. Members with questions on the process should contact Jim Lee at the MHA.

AHA Releases New COVID-19 Financial Impact Report

The American Hospital Association (AHA) released a financial impact report June 30 that estimates at least an additional $120.5 billion in financial losses for the nation’s hospitals from July 2020 through December 2020, due in large part to lower patient volumes. These estimates are in addition to the $202.6 billion in losses the AHA estimated between March 2020 and June 2020 in a report released in May. This brings total losses for the nation’s hospitals and health systems to at least $323.1 billion in 2020. The MHA is regularly collecting data from members on the financial impact the pandemic is having on Michigan hospitals. For more information, contact Jason Jorkasky at the MHA.

Delays in Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Some people who filed unemployment claims due to the COVID-19 pandemic have not received their unemployment benefits or are receiving them sporadically. The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) is experiencing a backlog due to the extraordinary volume of claims received, the surge of fraudulent identity theft claims that recently occurred, and the limitations of work volume that can be completed by the UIA’s adjudication staff. The UIA has announced that it is working to resolve the backlog of claims and has indicated that all claimants who are eligible for benefits will receive them. Members with questions related to unemployment claims may contact Neil MacVicar at the MHA.

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). Members with MHA-specific questions should contact the following MHA staff members: