Legislature Returns to Continue Healthcare-related Work

The Legislature returned the week of Sept.19 to continue work on several pieces of legislation that the MHA is currently monitoring. Committees met in both the House and Senate, taking up legislation that included several new bills supported by the MHA in the areas of behavioral health, rural emergency hospitals, speech-language pathologist licensure and telemedicine.

In the House Health Policy Committee, initial testimony was taken on new legislation to make changes to the preadmission screening process for behavioral health patients. House Bill (HB 6355), introduced by Rep. Graham Filler (R-St. Johns) and supported by the MHA, would memorialize the requirement for preadmission screening units operated by the Community Mental Health (CMH) services program to 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 within the three-hour time frame, HB 6355 would also allow for a clinically qualified individual at a hospital who is available to perform the required assessment.

Kathy Dollard, Psychologist and Director of behavioral health for MyMichigan Health, joined the committee to testify in support of HB 6355.

Kathy Dollard, psychologist and director of behavioral health for MyMichigan Health, joined the committee to testify in support of HB 6355. “Strengthening our behavioral health system includes strengthening our behavioral health workforce and that can start with creative solutions like providing clinically qualified hospital personnel the ability to conduct pre-admission screenings,” said Dollard. No votes were held on HB 6355 at this initial hearing.

MHA staff also provided testimony during committee on HB 6380. Introduced by Rep. Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale), HB 6380 would make the necessary changes to state law to allow for Michigan hospitals to pursue a new federal designation of “Rural Emergency Hospital” (REH) status. A REH designation comes with significant requirements such as limiting total beds to 50, maintaining an average length of stay of 24 hours or less and a required transfer agreement with a level I or II trauma center. Hospitals that choose to convert to a REH will receive enhanced federal reimbursement to provide critical emergency and outpatient services, especially in geographic areas.

Lauren LaPine and Elizabeth Kutter of the MHA testified in support of HB 6380.

Lauren LaPine, director of small and rural hospital programs, MHA, and Elizabeth Kutter, senior director of advocacy, MHA, testified in support of the legislation. “HB 6380 provides rural hospitals in our state with the ability to continue providing care in our most rural communities,” said LaPine. No votes were taken on HB 6380.

Initial testimony on two bills that were previously reviewed by MHA’s Legislative Policy Panel also occurred during committee. Senate Bill (SB) 811, introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), would extend the length of time for an individual to complete a temporary Speech-Language Pathologist license and extend the length of time those temporary licenses are valid. The MHA is supportive of SB 811, which did not see any votes this week.

House committee members also took initial testimony on SB 450, which would ensure that visitors of cognitively impaired patients are permitted in healthcare facilities. Introduced by Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), the bill would prohibit the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) or a local health officer from issuing an order that prohibits a patient representative from visiting a cognitively impaired individual in a healthcare facility. As written, the legislation does not prevent a healthcare facility from implementing reasonable safety measures for visitors and will still allow for facilities to limit the number of representatives per patient. The MHA is neutral on the bill and will continue to monitor any action taken.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee took initial testimony on SB 1135, which was introduced by Sen. Mike MacDonald (R-Macomb Township). SB 1135 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 is supportive of SB 1135, which would continue virtual care policies that have proved to be effective and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the Senate’s Regulatory Reform Committee, testimony was taken on another MHA-supported bill to regulate the sale of kratom in Michigan. Kratom is a substance of concern with opiate-like effects that has no approved medical use in the United States. HB 5477, introduced by Rep. Lori Stone (D-Warren), would create a license for kratom sales and manufacturing, require testing of products and require new safety warnings on kratom substances sold in Michigan. While the MHA prefers a federal Schedule I ban of the drug, the association is supportive of HB 5477, which will help limit adolescent addiction and prevent adulterated products from being on the market.

Members with questions on these bills or any other state legislation should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

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.

Pharmacy Benefit Manager Legislation Signed, Amended Right to Try Act Passes House

capitol building

capitol buildingImportant pharmacy benefit manager legislation was signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer the week of Feb. 21 and the Michigan Legislature took up several pieces of legislation that impact hospitals. The Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee heard testimony on extending temporary licensure for speech-language pathologists and creating a new statewide rare disease advisory council. In the House of Representatives, action was taken on legislation to amend the Right to Try Act, regulate the sale of kratom and make changes to the Medicaid presumptive eligibility process.

The Governor signed House Bill (HB) 4348 into law, which would regulate and establish licensure for pharmacy benefit managers in Michigan. HB 4348 was introduced by Rep. Julie Calley (R-Portland) and was supported by the MHA to help slow the rising cost of prescription medications.

Testimony was taken in the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee on Senate Bill (SB) 811, which would extend temporary licensure for speech-language pathologists. Introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), the bill would extend the allowable timeframe for a temporary speech-language pathologist license from 12 to 24 months and allow for six month extensions to that temporary license so long as the licensee remain in good standing. No vote was held and the MHA has not yet taken a position on SB 811.

The Senate Health Policy and Human Services committee also took testimony on a bill to establish a rare disease advisory council in Michigan. HB 4654 was introduced by Rep. Cara Clemente (D-Lincoln Park) and is supported by the MHA. The council would include two seats for hospital representatives, one of which would be reserved for a hospital that also conducts research. No vote was taken on HB 4654.

The House of Representatives voted in support of HB 5637, which would allow physicians to prescribe certain off-label medications to patients terminally ill with COVID-19. The bill amends the Right to Try Act, which is intended to give patients access to medications that are still in trial with the Food and Drug Administration for the patient’s condition or already approved to treat another diagnosis. As currently written, the medications could be prescribed only by the patient’s treating physician and the bill would not require health facilities to offer new medications or services that they do not already provide. The MHA has not taken a position on HB 5637, which now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

HBs 5462 and 5463 were reported from the House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors. Introduced by Reps. Pat Outman (R-Six Lakes) and Steve Johnson (R-Wayland), the bills would make changes to the Medicaid presumptive eligibility process by requiring the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to consider additional data in determinations. Some of the additional considerations include quarterly reviews of gambling history and death records. Under the current language, hospitals would be required to notify the MDHHS within five days after a determination was made and notify the applicant in writing that they must notify the MDHHS before the last day of the month to continue eligibility. The MHA is opposed to the bills and will continue to monitor any movement.

The House Regulatory Reform Committee took testimony on HB 5477, which would regulate the sale of kratom in Michigan. Kratom is a substance of concern with opiate-like effects that has no approved medical use in the United States. The MHA’s Legislative Policy Panel has previously taken a position supporting making kratom a Schedule I narcotic. HB 5477 would require new safety warnings on kratom substances sold in Michigan and the MHA has not taken a position on the bill.

Questions on state legislation related to healthcare may be directed to Adam Carlson at the MHA.