The Michigan Legislature was back in session the week of Sept. 26 to finish voting on a multitude of bills as committees and the full body met for the last time before the Nov. 8 election.
The Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 842, an education focused supplemental appropriations bill with boilerplate that creates a new scholarship for low-income Michigan high school graduates. The Michigan Achievement Scholarship will award qualifying students with up to $5,500 in last dollar student aid for community college, tribal college or university tuition. The program is expected to cost a total of $170 million and will be paid through with previously allocated money within the Postsecondary Scholarship Fund. The MHA was supportive of the new scholarship, which is expected to be available for the 2023-2024 school year.
Two bills that would amend the Michigan Reconnect Program were advanced from committee and passed by the full House of Representatives. The Michigan Reconnect Program is another postsecondary scholarship program designed to provide funding to adult learners to return to the classroom to pursue credentials or postsecondary degrees at community colleges or eligible training programs. House Bills (HBs) 6129 and 6130 would provide incentives for accepting previous learning credits and allow for several additional certifications to qualify for the scholarships. The MHA is supportive of HBs 6129 and 6130 and secured an amendment to the legislation to allow high-demand healthcare credentials to be eligible for the program. The bills now head to the Senate for further consideration before the end of the year.
In the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee, an MHA-supported bill related to telemedicine was advanced to the Senate Floor. SB 1135, introduced by Sen. Mike MacDonald (R-Macomb Township), would specify that previous expansions to Medicaid telemedicine coverage also apply to the Healthy Michigan Program and Michigan’s medical assistance program. Most notably, the legislation would require continued coverage for audio-only telemedicine services. The MHA will continue to monitor action on SB 1135, which would continue virtual care policies that have proved to be effective and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MHA is also monitoring action on HB 5880, which was discharged to the House Floor without a committee hearing and passed by the full House of Representatives during the Sept. 28 late-night session. A floor substitute was adopted that changed the intent of the bill, which would now require parental consent for all non-emergent healthcare services to minors. The MHA has significant concerns with how the new language could impact patient care and will oppose any further action on the bill.
Members with questions on these bills or any other state legislation related to healthcare should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.