Lame Duck Session Begins in Senate

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capitol buildingThe 2022 lame-duck session in the legislature got off to a slow start in the Senate during the week of Nov. 28. Several bills impacting hospitals saw unsuccessful votes on the floor, including legislation to make changes to the operation of the 340B drug pricing program and a package to integrate behavioral and physical health for state regulated insurance plans.

The 340B legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 1088, threatened to strike important protectionist language that was secured in Public Act 12 of 2022. That bill signed into law in February prohibits a pharmaceutical manufacturer from requiring the use of a modifier on non-Medicaid claims, protecting 340B entities from industry implemented administrative hurdles. Removing this language would negatively impact the communities served by Michigan 340B hospitals. The MHA and its member hospitals have been working hard to advocate to elected officials the importance of the program. SB 1088 was introduced as a vehicle bill by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) and was discharged and substituted on the floor before voting. The vote on SB 1088 on Nov. 29 ultimately failed twice on the floor and it is not clear if the legislation will be considered again.  The MHA will continue to oppose SB 1088 and other threats to the 340B program.

SB 597 and 598, the Senate’s behavioral health integration package, also did not find the votes to pass on the floor. Introduced by Sen. Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson) and Sen. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek), the package would create new specialty integrated plans (SIPs) that would replace the current prepaid inpatient health plans (PIHPs) and contract with each community mental health (CMH) services program to deliver physical and behavioral health services to Michigan’s Medicaid population. The bills would also eliminate language requiring CMH entities to coordinate substance use disorder (SUD) and school based behavioral health services and create a new statewide ombudsman.

The Senate’s Health Policy and Human Services Committee also met to advance several bills to the floor for a potential vote in the final days of session. Among those bills was House Bill (HB) 6086, introduced by Rep. Jeff Yaroch (R-Richmond). HB 6086 would establish an alternate licensure process for paramedics in Michigan. HB 6086 would require the state to develop a new Michigan-specific certification course, separate from the currently required course from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. The MHA is opposed to HB 6086, which could have implications for a paramedic’s ability to work in multiple states. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification is currently used in 48 states and is required for all newly licensed paramedics in Michigan.

The MHA will continue to monitor all these bills for any further action in the coming weeks. Members with questions about these issues or other state legislation related to healthcare can be directed to Adam Carlson at the MHA.

Behavioral Health Funding, Essential Health Provider Program Expansion is Advanced

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capitol buildingThe Michigan Legislature acted on several pieces of legislation impacting hospitals during the week of Feb. 28. Some of the covered topics included behavioral health funding, streamlining prior authorization requests, increased penalties for assaulting healthcare workers, expanding the essential health provider loan repayment program and changes to non-opioid directive forms.

In the Senate, the supplemental funding bill that includes the MHA’s request to support behavioral health was discharged from the Senate Appropriations Committee to the Senate floor. Senate Bill (SB) 714, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Jackson), would appropriate a total of $539 million and includes several MHA-supported one-time line items for behavioral health. Included in the supplemental bill is $100 million in infrastructure grants for pediatric inpatient psychiatric services, $20 million in infrastructure grants for hospital behavioral health intake enhancements, $25 million to prepare for the expansion of the essential health provider loan repayment program, and $30 million to expand the state’s apprenticeship program for new behavioral health staff. Shirkey’s SBs 597 and 598, which are related behavioral health bills that are also supported by the MHA, could receive a vote as early as the week of March 7.

In the House Health Policy Committee, testimony was taken on SB 247, which would make changes to decrease wait times for commercial insurance prior authorization requests. Introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), the legislation would shorten the timeline for approval to seven calendar days, or 72 hours for urgent requests, as well as ensure that emergency care can be provided without prior approval. The MHA supports the bill and provided written testimony to the committee March 3. A committee vote has not yet been held.

On the House floor, representatives voted in favor of SBs 246 and 435, which would expand the allowable use of the Essential Health Provider Loan Repayment Program. The two bills would increase the total allowable repayment from $200,000 to $300,000 and allow for certain mental health professionals to also be eligible for the program. An MHA-proposed amendment to SB 435 was added in the House that would extend the sunset on the Physician Licensure Compact, which is set to expire March 28. The bill now heads back to the Senate for a concurring vote before being sent to the governor for signature. The MHA supports the bills and will continue to apprise members of any related action in the coming weeks.

The House Government Operations Committee voted in support of legislation to increase penalties for assaulting healthcare employees. House Bill (HB) 5682, introduced by Rep. Mike Mueller (R-Linden), went through several changes in committee, with the language now doubling the fines for assaulting a healthcare employee or volunteer in any care setting. HB 5682 would also require the posting of signage in hospital emergency rooms to deter potential assaults. The MHA has developed example signs that are available to Michigan hospitals free of charge. The MHA-supported bill will now go to the House floor for a full vote.

The Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee reported another MHA-supported bill that was introduced by Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn). HB 5261 would create specific exemptions for providers to administer opioids to a patient who has an active non-opioid directive form if the medications are provided during a surgical operation or the provider deems the opioids medically necessary. The bill now awaits a vote on the Senate floor.

Members with questions on state legislation related to healthcare should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

State Budget Signed, Healthcare Policy Bills Advanced

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capitol buildingThe week of Sept. 27 was highlighted by the governor signing the fiscal year (FY) 2022 state budget, legislative passage of a funding bill for the statewide trauma system, and policy bills in both the House and Senate. In the House Health Policy Committee, the MHA supported a bill to create a grant program for medication assisted treatment (MAT) in emergency departments and a pharmacy wholesalers bill. In the Senate, further testimony was taken on the behavioral health package and several policy bills

The governor Sept. 29 signed the FY 2022 budget, which fully protects traditional hospital funding including the Healthy Michigan Plan, the rural access pool, the obstetrical stabilization fund and maintaining rate increases for Medicaid and critical access hospitals. In addition, the MHA successfully advocated for extending postpartum coverage to a full year for mothers who are beneficiaries of the Healthy Michigan Plan and an additional $3 million in trauma funding to establish systems of care for stroke and heart attack emergencies. The MHA released a media statement thanking the governor and Legislature for passing a budget on time that maintains access to care throughout Michigan.

The Senate also passed House Bill (HB) 5094, legislation to fund the statewide trauma system. The MHA supports the bill and applauds the Legislature’s quick work to pass the bill over the past few weeks. HB 5094, introduced by Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township), will now be sent to the governor’s desk and is expected to be signed.

The MHA supported two bills in the House Health Policy Committee the week of Sept. 27. HB 5163, introduced by Rep. Angela Witwer (D-Delta Township), would create an opt-out grant program for MAT in emergency departments. That bill is identical to an MHA-supported version being considered by the Senate. HB 5072, introduced by Rep. Ryan Berman (R-West Bloomfield Township), is a state-level effort to exempt hospitals or other healthcare entities that are under common control from a medication distribution threshold that currently requires registration as wholesalers. It would also exempt from the threshold the distribution of minimal quantities of medications by a licensed retail pharmacy to a licensed practitioner for office use.

In the Senate, further testimony was taken on Senate Bills (SBs) 597 and 598, which would create new specialty integrated plans to replace the current prepaid inpatient health plans and contract with each community mental health services program to deliver physical and behavioral health services to Michigan’s Medicaid population. The MHA-supported bills were introduced by Sens. Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake) and John Bizon (R-Battle Creek). Testimony was also heard in the Senate Health Policy Committee regarding several bills on which no votes were held. Those bills included legislation to create licensure for mental health transport organizations and a bill to allow HIV-positive patients to donate organs to other HIV-positive patients.

For more information on state healthcare legislation, contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.