Healthcare Issues Considered by Michigan Legislature

House Bill 6159

House Judiciary CommitteeThe Michigan House and Senate took up multiple pieces of legislation that would impact hospitals during the week of Sept. 7. Those bills address multiple areas of COVID-19-related liability, prescription drug transparency, authorization for health professionals with Canadian licenses to practice in Michigan, Michigan’s inclusion in an interstate compact on psychologist licenses and licensing psychiatric residential facilities for Medicaid recipients age 21 or younger.

In the House Judiciary Committee, MHA General Counsel Amy Barkholz provided testimony supporting a bill to grant limited immunity to health facilities for their treatment of COVID-19 patients from March 9 through July 15. House Bill (HB) 6159 was introduced by Rep. Roger Hauck (R-Union Township) and would codify the liability protections found in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order (EO) 2020-61, which was extended by EO 2020-100. The committee also took testimony on a separate COVID-19-related employer liability package that mirrors a package of bills taken up in the Senate Economic and Small Business Development Committee. Those packages consist of HBs 6030-6032 and Senate Bills (SBs) 1022-1024 and are supported by the MHA as part of a coalition of numerous groups representing the business community. The MHA had previously worked with the Legislature on addressing these issues through SB 899, which the governor vetoed in August.

In the House Health Policy Committee, testimony was taken on a package of prescription drug transparency bills being led by Committee Chairman Hank Vaupel (R-Fowlerville). HBs 5937-5945 would make numerous changes to the laws for the disclosure of prescription drug costs, including requiring hospitals to post chargemaster descriptions online and pharmacists to disclose prescription drug prices to consumers. The MHA has taken a position on only HB 5942, supporting the pharmacies bill introduced by Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian). Hospitals currently post chargemaster information online in accordance with federal law.

The House Health Policy Committee also took testimony on HB 5929, which would give the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs the ability to promulgate rules to allow for licensed health professionals in Canada to practice in Michigan. That MHA-supported bill was introduced by Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township). Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) introduced an identical bill, SB 1021, which received a hearing in the Senate Health Policy Committee. War Memorial Hospital CEO David Jahn provided testimony in support of both bills, highlighting their potential to attract specialty providers to Sault Ste. Marie.

The Senate Health Policy Committee also addressed SB 758 Sept. 10 and referred it to the Senate floor. The MHA supports the bill, which was introduced by Sen. Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford) and would allow Michigan to join an interstate licensure compact for psychologists.

Finally, the House Ways and Means Committee took testimony on a bill to establish a licensure program for residential psychiatric facilities for Medicaid recipients under the age of 21. HB 5298 was introduced by Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township) and would require the Department of Health and Human Services to establish necessary rules for the new facility certification. The MHA has not taken a position on the proposed legislation.

For more information on healthcare issues being addressed by the Legislature, contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

MHA Monday Report Aug. 17, 2020

MHA Monday Report logo

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Aug. 10

The MHA continues to keep members apprised of developments affecting Michigan hospitals during the pandemic through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. …


Governor Vetoes Healthcare Liability Protection Bill

On Aug. 10, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed legislation that would limit legal liability for healthcare facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting facilities from certain lawsuits related to the pandemic response. Under Senate Bill 899, health facilities would …


New Payment Model for Rural Healthcare Announced, Webinar to Answer Questions

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announced the Community Health Access and Rural Transformation Model, a new payment model for rural communities, in response to an Aug. 3 executive order issued by …


Proposed Rule for 2021 Physician Fee Schedule Payments Released

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently released a proposed rule for the Medicare fee-for-service physician fee schedule (PFS) payments, effective Jan. 1, 2021. The proposed rule would update the PFS rates and implement year five of the quality …


Rural Telehealth Program Implementation to be Examined in MHA Webinar

Telehealth improves not only access to care, but health outcomes by removing barriers of time and distance. COVID-19 has transformed telehealth from a desirable program to an essential element of care delivery. Although the implementation of telehealth can be …


Black Breastfeeding Week, National Breastfeeding Month Underscore Health Inequities

The United States Breastfeeding Committee officially designates August as National Breastfeeding Month to identify and implement policy and systems changes needed to ensure that every family who chooses to breastfeed has the support and resources …


University Offers Scholarship for Those with Jobs Affected by COVID-19

Davenport University recently announced a new scholarship to support employees who have been laid off, furloughed or unemployed due to COVID-19. Scholarship funds are available for Davenport University’s fall semester beginning Sept. 8 …


The Keckley Report

Primary Care Gatekeeping Plus Capitation: Is it the Right Combination?

“Primary care gatekeeping featuring whole-person care in tandem with capitated payments by health insurers and large employers is gaining momentum.  It’s also gaining traction in states that offer Medicaid managed care plans and in Medicare Advantage plans that now serve 27 million seniors. … It’s understandable: chronic diseases account for 75% of health spending in the U.S. system and a third of these can be mitigated through aggressive primary care gatekeeping."

Paul Keckley, Aug. 10, 2020

Governor Vetoes Healthcare Liability Protection Bill

capitol building

Michigan Capitol BuildingOn Aug. 10, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed legislation that would limit legal liability for healthcare facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting facilities from certain lawsuits related to the pandemic response. Under Senate Bill (SB) 899, health facilities would receive limited immunity from lawsuits related to the provision of care to COVID-19 patients, the need to reschedule patient care due to governmental orders and experiencing shortages of needed supplies.

SB 899 was introduced by Sen. Michael MacDonald (R- Macomb Township). The current version of the bill was passed by the House and Senate in late July and required the governor’s signature to become law. The bill will now return to the Legislature. Lawmakers can make changes or vote to override the governor’s veto, which requires a two-thirds majority in each chamber. The MHA will continue to keep members informed on this issue. Questions on SB 899 should be directed to Adam Carlson at the MHA.

MHA Monday Report Aug. 10, 2020

MHA Monday Report logo

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Aug. 3

The MHA continues to keep members apprised of developments affecting Michigan hospitals during the pandemic through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. …


Corrected Unemployment Bills to Be Issued to Reimbursing Nonprofit Employers

In mid-July, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency issued the second quarter 2020 unemployment bills (UIA Form 1763) to “reimbursing” employers (nonprofit employers). …


CEO Report – Making Progress Against COVID-19

In this month's CEO Report, MHA CEO Brian Peters focuses on the progress the MHA and its members have made across a variety of challenges facing hospitals because of the COVID-19 pandemic. …


Changes Proposed for 2021 Medicare Outpatient Prospective Payment System

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently released a proposed rule to update the Medicare fee-for-service outpatient prospective payment system. Its proposals would become effective Jan. 1, 2021, unless otherwise noted. …


2020 Election Focus of MHA Virtual Member Forum

MHA members are invited to join a virtual forum on the 2020 election and politics presented by David Wasserman, house editor for The Cook Political Report, from 11 a.m. to noon EDT Sept. 23. …


CMS Releases Final Rules for Medicare Post-acute Care Services in FY 2021

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services made minor changes in the recently released final rules to update the Medicare fee-for-service inpatient psychiatric facility, inpatient rehabilitation facility and skilled nursing facility prospective payment systems for fiscal year 2021. …


Webinars Explore COVID-19 Health Inequity and Future Disease Treatments

The MHA webinar series Leadership and Resiliency: Navigating Through and Beyond COVID-19 explores several mission-critical leadership qualities that leaders need to help traverse this difficult time. …


New Lansing Senior Park Aligns with MHA Keystone Center Age-Friendly Efforts

The city of Lansing recently installed a senior-friendly park that features an exercise bike, stair stepper and handcycle, among other equipment. The FitLot park is near a senior community and market-rate apartments to further support the community’s access to recreational activities. …


Promote Vaccination during National Immunization Awareness Month

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, which highlights the efforts of hospitals and healthcare professionals to protect patients of all ages against vaccine-preventable diseases through on-time vaccination. …


Merritt Hawkins Releases 2020 Review of Physician Recruiting Incentives

Merritt Hawkins, an endorsed business partner of the MHA, has released its annual examination of the starting salaries and other incentives used to recruit physicians nationwide. Now in its 27th year, the firm’s Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives provides national benchmark data on physician recruiting incentives as well as a comprehensive analysis of the physician recruiting market. …


The Keckley Report

Four Healthcare Workforce Issues that Require Attention

“The U.S. healthcare industry employs 16.8 million. In the pandemic, it is considered an “essential industry” among several considered necessary to managing the crisis. Its frontline workers in nursing homes and hospitals enjoy heightened appreciation and public trust. But four problems in its workforce lurk beneath the surface.” …

Paul Keckley, Aug. 3, 2020

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of July 20

MHA Covid-19 update

coronavirus updateAs the threat posed by COVID-19 rises across the country, the MHA continues to keep members apprised of developments affecting Michigan hospitals during the pandemic through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.

Tools Available to Advocate for Next COVID-19 Relief Package

The MHA participated in a Virtual Advocacy Day that the American Hospital Association (AHA) hosted July 20, featuring presentations from AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack and AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels. An update was shared on efforts to include provisions to support hospitals in the next COVID-19 relief package, which includes additional dollars for the emergency relief fund, forgiveness for accelerated payments, and liability protections for front-line medical providers and facilities.

Since Senate negotiations on the bill reportedly stalled July 23, it remains important for healthcare providers to advocate for these provisions. The AHA has issued an Advocacy Alert (password required) asking that members contact their senators to stress their importance. While Michigan’s U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are healthcare champions, there is value in them hearing from their constituents on the importance of this funding. To aid in these efforts, the AHA has developed resources and a digital toolkit to help members engage with lawmakers virtually. Members with questions on federal advocacy topics may contact Laura Appel at the MHA.

HHS Extends Public Health Emergency

On July 23, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) extended the COVID-19 public health emergency for another 90 days. The renewal, officially signed by HHS Secretary Alex Azar, ensures that waivers received from the HHS and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will continue. Policies extended include the 20% Medicare inpatient add-on payment for COVID-19 patients, relaxed telehealth restrictions and other Section 1135 waivers. Members with questions should contact Laura Appel at the MHA.

HHS Announces Targeted CARES Act Funding, Clarifies Required Reporting

The HHS recently announced $10 billion in additional “targeted” hospital funding from federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provider relief funds to assist hospitals with COVID-19 response efforts. The HHS asked hospitals to submit data on their COVID-19-positive inpatient admissions for the period Jan. 1 through June 10, 2020. Payments will be issued to hospitals with more than 161 COVID-19 admissions during this period, with a portion of Michigan hospitals set to receive additional funding from the allocation.

The HHS also shared details on reporting requirements for recipients of CARES Act provider relief funds. Recipients that received one or more payments exceeding $10,000 in the aggregate from the Provider Relief Fund, including the newly announced payments, are required to submit reports to the HHS on how the funds have been expended, using a portal that the HHS will open Oct. 1. Detailed instructions regarding these reports will be released by Aug. 17, and the Health Resources and Services Administration will host educational sessions for providers.

The MHA will continue to monitor hospital distributions from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund and update members as information becomes available. Members with questions about this funding are encouraged to contact Jason Jorkasky at the MHA.

Guidance Released on Wage Increase for Direct Care Worker Grants

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released further information and guidance regarding the $2 per hour wage increase for direct care workers via state grants that was signed into law through Senate Bill (SB) 690 July 1. The department’s frequently asked questions document contains information regarding eligibility of individuals and facilities, as well as the logistics for providing the increased funding at skilled nursing facilities.

In SB 690, the Legislature appropriated $120 million to increase the wages of direct care workers. The language of the bill provided that the increases are above the rates paid March 1 and apply to the period from July 1 through Sept. 30, 2020. Only “direct care workers” at skilled nursing facilities are eligible for the grants. These workers include registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, competency-evaluated nursing assistant or respiratory therapist. The MHA will continue to share additional information about the grants as it becomes available. Members with questions on this issue may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

State FY 2020 Budget Protects Healthcare Priorities

During the week of July 20, negotiations ended on the state fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget as the Legislature approved a plan addressing a deficit of nearly $2.2 billion caused by economic losses surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic (see related article). The MHA actively worked with lawmakers to ensure that the association’s budget priorities were held harmless from reductions, including the rural access pool and obstetrical stabilization fund, Medicaid rates and provider tax funded pools. In the coming months, the Legislature and administration will work on the state budget for FY 2021, which begins Oct. 1, and the MHA will continue to stress the importance of fully funding healthcare during those negotiations. Members with questions may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

State Senate Approves Liability Protection Bill

Legislation to limit legal liability for healthcare facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic passed the Senate July 23 after receiving approval from the full House late July 22. Senate Bill (SB) 899 would protect facilities from lawsuits related to pandemic response. Specifically, the legislation protects from lawsuits related to the provision of care to COVID-19 patients, rescheduling patient care because of governmental orders or shortages of supplies.

Sen. Michael MacDonald (R-Macomb Township) introduced SB 899, and it passed the Senate May 7. The final version of the legislation as approved July 23 reflects the House substitute that was adopted in committee July 22. The legislation requires Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature before becoming law. The MHA will continue to monitor and keep members informed on the issue. Members with questions should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

National COVID-19 Testing Implementation Forum and Testing Supply Registry Announced

The HHS announced July 21 a new program to capture feedback between federal officials and the private sector on COVID-19 testing. The National Testing Implementation Forum will bring together representatives from key stakeholder groups to share information and provide input to federal leaders about SARS-CoV-2 testing and diagnostics. A key aim of the forum is to share perspectives on how the HHS can best address end-to-end testing supply chain issues across commercial, public health, academic and other sectors and define optimal testing in various settings (diagnostic, screening, surveillance, others). The group will also aim to increase public health laboratory capacity, implement a national surveillance strategy, seek new techniques such as sample pooling and identify barriers to a streamlined national laboratory testing reporting system.

The same day, the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) announced the creation of a comprehensive, national COVID-19 diagnostic supply registry to help state and federal governments in their pandemic responses. As outlined in AdvaMed’s news release, the national registry is being launched in partnership with 13 commercial diagnostics manufacturers, nearly all of which produce supplies used in Michigan. The new registry will streamline communications and data sharing between diagnostic firms and the government, facilitate collaboration with public health stakeholders to optimize access to COVID-19 testing, and standardize reporting. Questions related to COVID-19 testing can be directed to Brittany Bogan at the MHA.

Grace Period Granted for Remote Pharmacy Supervision Step Down

The governor issued Executive Order (EO) 2020-152 July 14, removing some of the flexibility related to remote supervision of pharmacy technicians and staff that existed in EO 2020-124, which has since been rescinded. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has issued a memo discussing the topic and a timeline to fully transition from remote to on-site supervision. LARA will give pharmacies until 11:59 p.m. Sept. 30, 2020, before enforcing supervision and other requirements. Members with questions about EO 2020-124, EO 2020-152 or the memo from LARA may contact Paige Fults at the MHA.

Multilingual Mask-up Materials Available

The state of Michigan has available for download No Mask, No Entry posters in various languages, including English, Spanish, Arabic, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Burmese, French, American Sign Language, Swahili and Bangla. Questions on available resources can be sent to the MHA Communications department.

U.S.-Canadian Border Remains Closed, Healthcare Employees Exempted

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf recently announced that the United States and Canada have extended the mutual ban on nonessential travel between the two countries until Aug. 20; that ban had been set to expire July 21. Essential travel, including that of healthcare workers, may continue uninterrupted. The MHA will continue to monitor and work with state and federal governments to keep the border open for essential healthcare employees. Members with questions on this issue may contact Adam Carlson 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 MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC). Members with MHA-specific questions should contact the following MHA staff members:

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of July 13

MHA Covid-19 update

coronavirus updateAs the state experiences a steady rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended the official state of emergency in Michigan through Aug. 11. 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.

HHS Announces Next Tranche of Funds for Hospitals with High COVID-19 Caseloads

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced July 17 that it will distribute $10 billion to hospitals with high numbers of COVID-19 patients, beginning the week of July 20. This is the second tranche of high-impact funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Using data hospitals submitted on COVID-19-positive inpatient admissions for the period Jan. 1 to June 10, 2020, the HHS based this distribution on a formula for hospitals with over 161 COVID-19 admissions during that period, equating to one admission per day, or that experienced a disproportionate intensity of COVID-19 admissions (exceeding the average ratio of COVID-19 admissions/bed). The HHS also considered previous high-impact payments when determining each hospital’s payment in this distribution. Hospitals will be paid $50,000 per eligible admission.

The MHA and American Hospital Association have been advocating for additional hospital financial relief at every opportunity. This funding comes at a critical time, as cases of COVID-19 in Michigan are again rising. However, since not all hospitals will meet the threshold for receiving high-impact funds, securing additional funds for all hospitals and loan forgiveness for Medicare advance payments remain among the association’s top priorities.

Members with federal advocacy questions may contact Laura Appel at the MHA.

Changes Made in Federal Requirements for COVID-19 Reporting

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced July 13 it would discontinue the use of the National Healthcare and Safety Network COVID-19 Module for hospitals starting July 15. Instead, hospitals will be required to enter COVID-19 information daily into the HHS Teletracking portal. The department has updated its guidance and frequently asked questions (FAQs) to reflect the data fields that will be collected and their definitions, including new data elements.

The MHA is currently working with the state of Michigan to modify the state’s EMResource data collection system to allow the state to submit data on behalf of Michigan hospitals and to expedite the state and federal government approval process. Until the state of Michigan receives approval from the federal government, hospitals must enter COVID-19 information daily into both the HHS Teletracking portal and EMResource to be eligible to receive future distribution of resources, including pharmaceuticals and more.

The association will notify members when the state receives approval from the federal government to submit data on behalf of hospitals, which will allow providers to make daily entries into only the EMResource system. Members with questions may contact Jim Lee at the MHA.

State Works with MHA on Ending Relaxation of Scope of Practice, Immunity Provisions

The governor issued Executive Order (EO) 2020-150 to rescind EO 2020-61, which had allowed healthcare practitioners to temporarily practice beyond the scope of their license, with limitations. The governor referenced stable and manageable COVID-19 hospitalization rates and hospital resources as the reason for rescinding the expansion of scope, which also removed certain important immunity provisions that protected healthcare facilities and entities during the pandemic, effective July 13.

The MHA discussed the EO with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and the department issued a memo July 17 that outlines flexibility and license requirements that remain in place under EO 2020-150. The memo is available via the July 17 email update to members and also provides a timeline for returning to normal order for scope of practice. LARA is allowing providers an extended compliance deadline of 11:59 p.m. Aug. 31 before enforcing the updated supervision and other requirements. In addition, the EO extends the suspension of certain licensing and certification requirements for healthcare professionals, life support and first aid workers, and 911 operators.

Meanwhile, the MHA is working with the Legislature on Senate Bill 899, which would secure important immunity protections similar to those afforded in EO 2020-61. Members with questions on the memo from LARA may contact Paige Fults at the MHA.

MIOSHA Hospital State Emphasis Program and Requests for Voluntary Inspections

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) recently announced its Hospital State Emphasis Program, which focuses on inspecting hospital facilities for appropriate personal protective equipment and staff safety related to COVID-19.

Since the initial announcement, the MHA has shared a letter with leadership at the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity suggesting opportunities for achieving good outcomes for patient care and worker safety. The MHA continues to work with MIOSHA to clarify areas of a FAQs document the agency is preparing.

While a limited number of MHA members are expected to be contacted for inspection under the State Emphasis Program, members may use MIOSHA in a consulting manner by request. Michigan employers may request a voluntary MIOSHA inspection of their workplace (full or partial) without the attachment of fines or penalties. These on-site consultations are conducted by occupational safety consultants or industrial hygienists through the Consultation Education and Training Division. Prior to the start of this type of inspection, employers must agree to correct all serious violations found during the voluntary inspection. For more information about the Hospital State Emphasis Program, contact Laura Appel at the MHA.

Governor Updates Mask Requirement

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer July 17 issued an updated executive order (EO 2020-153) requiring masks to be worn in public places and businesses and providing some clarification for how the requirement should be interpreted and enforced. Essentially, the new order provides clarity about law enforcement officers wearing masks, who is not required to wear a mask, and exceptions for removing a mask.

Healthcare settings are not mentioned specifically in the updated order; however, members continue to be advised to make their best effort to comply with the mask requirement enforcement for patients and visitors in their facilities, while prioritizing patients’ individual health and circumstances.

State Discusses Supply Chain Issues with MHA Members

The MHA continues to host calls for hospital supply chain contacts as needed. During a recent call, the state indicated it is working to increase the supply of key personal protective equipment, with a goal of having a 90-day supply on hand. Nitrile gloves will continue to be in short supply, and hospitals should follow conservation recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as much as possible.

MHA member HPS, a group purchasing organization, said that most of its vendors have an ample supply of personal protective equipment and related items available. The organization encourages groups that are not current HPS members to consider partnering with HPS as it adds additional contracts for personal protective equipment during the summer. Members with questions may contact Kevin Crampton at HPS.

Opportunities Available for Pooling Lab Tests for Asymptomatic Individuals

The MHA and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) host weekly calls with laboratory directors regarding COVID-19 testing capacity and the increasing demand for screening of asymptomatic populations. Those calls prompted a July 16 call for Michigan laboratories interested in pooled testing strategies for COVID-19, along with leaders from the state Bureau of Laboratories (BOL).

The statewide testing strategy has expanded to include more asymptomatic individuals to protect the safety of employees, students, patients and others. While this is a positive step, it has also placed further strain on an already limited supply of COVID-19 diagnostic tests. Pooling samples of asymptomatic individuals preserves limited testing resources but requires additional validation because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the current diagnostic tests only for individuals suspected of having COVID-19.

To streamline additional studies, the FDA released in June template updates regarding the validation of diagnostic tests for developers that intend their analysis to be used for pooling patient samples or for screening asymptomatic individuals not suspected of having COVID-19. In addition, the FDA has made available new testing FAQs with information regarding the screening of asymptomatic individuals.

Labs that plan to begin their own validation studies are encouraged to share the information with the Michigan BOL. Members with questions, or those who wish to join the MHA calls with the laboratory directors, may contact Brittany Bogan at the MHA.

Healthcare Heroes Acknowledged via Social Media

From April through June, the MHA ran a social media campaign recognizing the heroic workers on the front lines of COVID-19 working throughout its member hospitals and health systems. The effort highlighted more than 250 healthcare professionals — nurses, physicians, environmental service workers and others — from communities across the state and thanked them for their dedication to fighting COVID-19 and caring for patients. Using information supplied by member hospitals, the campaign ran on the MHA’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, and several video samples of the posts were included in related articles on the MHA Newsroom webpage. More than 431,000 people shared, liked and/or commented on the posts. Members with questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth 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 MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC). Members with MHA-specific questions should contact the following MHA staff members:

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of May 18

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA COVID-19 UpdateThe MHA has continued to keep members apprised of developments during the COVID-19 pandemic through regular email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates on how the pandemic is affecting Michigan hospitals are outlined below.

Executive Order 2020-17 Rescinded, Other Restrictions Eased

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced May 21 that she is rescinding Executive Order (EO) 2020-17 effective May 29. This EO was issued in March and banned “nonessential” medical procedures in hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and dentists’ offices. The MHA issued a media statement in support of her action and will continue to run statewide television and social media ads urging people not to delay care and assuring that hospitals are safe places to receive services.

The governor also announced during a May 21 news conference that auto dealerships, retailers and veterinarians can open to the public, by appointment only, effective May 29, and that, effective immediately, groups of 10 or fewer people may gather outside of their homes. Whitmer announced May 18 that the Upper Peninsula (Region 8) and 17 counties in northern lower Michigan (Region 6) will be permitted to partially reopen their economies May 22, in accordance with the “Safe Start” recommendations developed by the Michigan Economic Recovery Council.

Liability Protections for Healthcare Workers, Facilities

The MHA testified May 19 via videoconference before the state House Judiciary Committee to advocate for Senate Bill (SB) 899, which offers strong and broad liability protections for healthcare workers and facilities treating COVID-19 patients. The MHA and members have identified this as an important element to operating within pandemic and emergency situations. A variety of other healthcare groups submitted cards of support for the bill, including the Michigan State Medical Society and the Healthcare Association of Michigan, which represents long-term care facilities.

SB 899 originally passed the Senate May 7. The MHA will continue to work with members of the House of Representatives as the legislation progresses to support healthcare personnel responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members with questions may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.

Laboratories and Testing

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) announced May 18 that the Laboratory Emergency Response Network (MiCLERN) hotline will be taken offline at 5 p.m. ET May 22. The announcement stated that this is due to “recent changes to COVID-19 prioritization criteria and stabilized testing capacity that no longer requires prior issuance of Person Under Investigation (PUI) identifiers for MDHHS Bureau of Laboratory (BOL) testing of COVID-19 specimens.” The state clarified that COVID-19 specimens that are sent to the state laboratory no longer require a PUI form, but should still include the State of Michigan Test Requisition form (DCH-0583) and two unique identifiers.

Hospitals in need of swabs and transport media for testing are reminded to report their needs to the BOL by sending an email to MDHHSLab@michigan.gov using the subject line “EM COVID-19 Supplies,” per recent guidance shared with members in the May 6 email update. Members with questions should contact Brittany Bogan at the MHA.

MVC Offers Resources for Resuming Non-COVID Procedures

The Michigan Value Collaborative (MVC) represents a partnership among 87 Michigan hospitals and 40 physician organizations that aims to improve the health of Michigan through sustainable high-value healthcare. Supported by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the MVC helps its members better understand their performance using robust multipayer data, customized analytics and at-the-elbow support.

To assist hospital systems with prioritizing the restart of surgical services with the least impact on caring for remaining COVID-19 patients, the MVC has designed reports that display resource utilization metrics at a statewide and member hospital level for 17 elective surgical procedures. More information is available by contacting the MHA Keystone Center.

Pharmacy Refill Order Extended

The governor signed EO 2020-93 May 19, extending a previous order giving pharmacists increased operational capacity. It also expands access to prescriptions for patients. The order allows pharmacists to dispense emergency refills of prescriptions for up to a 60-day supply and requires insurers to cover early refills for up to a 90-day supply during the pandemic. It also allows pharmacists to dispense COVID-19 treatments according to government-approved protocols. EO 2020-93 took immediate effect and will expire at 11:59 p.m. June 16, 2020. Members with questions may contact Paige Fults at the MHA.

EMResource Now Tracking Psychiatric Facility Data

The state of Michigan recently launched a new module in EMResource targeted toward freestanding psychiatric facilities. The data collected in this new module requests data on beds, COVID-19 patients, staffing and personal protective equipment availability. Psychiatric facilities are required to report this information weekly by 11:59 p.m. ET every Friday. The MHA is seeking clarification from the state on whether this data will also be posted to its COVID-19 data website alongside existing health system/hospital data on related measures, or on any other public website. Members with questions may contact Jim Lee at the MHA.

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children

A Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity webinar on the clinical characteristics of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19 is now available online. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) hosted the webinar May 19. The MDHHS reported that, since April 1, there have been 28 identified cases in Michigan, and treatment with intravenous immunoglobulin and steroids is proving to be effective. The CDC issued a Health Advisory May 14 and recommends healthcare providers report any patient who meets the case definition to local and state health departments to enhance knowledge of risk factors, clinical course, and treatment of this syndrome.

Healthcare Workers Still Permitted to Cross Closed Canadian Borders

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security May 19 reissued its order closing the United States – Canadian ground border through 11:59 p.m. ET June 22. Healthcare workers will continue to be permitted to cross to report to work.

Additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to members on the MHA Community Site and the MHA COVID-19 webpage. If staff members at MHA-member facilities are not receiving necessary information from the MHA, they are asked to check the spam/junk mail folders in their email systems or ask their information technology departments to ensure MHA messages are not being blocked.

Questions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC). Members with MHA-specific questions should contact the following MHA staff members: