New State Legislative Session Begins

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capitol buildingThe new session for the 102nd Michigan Legislature kicked off during the week of Jan. 9 with swearing in ceremonies in both the House and Senate. Michigan Democrats in the majority started the session by introducing legislation to repeal right to work, reinstate prevailing wage requirements and several other bills intended to provide tax relief for working families. Committee assignments were also released, giving the MHA and its member hospitals an opportunity to begin conversations with key lawmakers about 2023 legislative priorities.

Much like previous legislative sessions, both the House and Senate will feature standing committees for health policy and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) budget. However, the House also created a new committee focused on behavioral health to provide a greater focus on the growing issue. Additionally, the MHA will be tracking new standing committees on labor issues created in both the House and Senate.

The Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference convened Jan. 13 to revise revenue projections for the current fiscal year. Comprised of the House Fiscal Agency, the Senate Fiscal Agency and the Department of Treasury, their forecast calls for a year-over-year decrease of 1.1% in revenues from the 2021-22 fiscal year to 2022-23. For 2022-23, the General Fund is projected to decrease by $427.7 million year-over-year, with a forecasted total of $14.8 billion.

Included below is a comprehensive list of committee assignments that are particularly relevant for MHA members. If you have any questions about the new lawmakers in your district, committee assignments or other state legislation, please contact Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

Senate Appropriations

  • Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) (Chair).
  • Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) (Vice Chair).
  • Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo) (Minority Vice Chair).
  • Thomas Albert (R-Lowell).
  • Rosemary Bayer (D-West Bloomfield).
  • Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton).
  • Mary Cavanagh (D-Redford Township).
  • John Cherry (D-Flint).
  • John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs).
  • Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores).
  • Mark Huizenga (R-Walker).
  • Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor).
  • Veronica Klinefelt (D-Eastpointe).
  • Kristen McDonald-Rivet (D-Bay City).
  • Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak).
  • Rick Outman (R-Six Lakes).
  • Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit).
  • Sue Shink (D-Northfield).
  • Lana Theis (R-Brighton).

*Senate DHHS Appropriations Subcommittee will be chaired by Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit).

Senate Health Policy

  • Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores) (Chair).
  • Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) (Vice Chairs).
  • Michael Webber (R-Rochester Hills) (Minority Vice Chair).
  • John Cherry (D-Flint).
  • Erika Geiss (D-Taylor).
  • Roger Hauck (R-Mount Pleasant).
  • Mark Huizenga (R-Walker).
  • Veronica Klinefelt (D-Eastpointe).
  • Jim Runestad (R-White Lake).
  • Paul Wojno (D-Warren).

House Appropriations

  • Angela Witwer (D-Delta Township) (Chair).
  • Amos O’Neal (D-Saginaw) (Vice Chair).
  • Sarah Lightner (R-Springport) (Minority Vice Chair).
  • Timothy Beson (R-Kawkawlin).
  • Ann Bollin (R-Brighton).
  • Ken Borton (R-Gaylord).
  • Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield).
  • Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township).
  • Cam Cavitt (R-Cheboygan).
  • Nancy DeBoer (R-Holland).
  • Alabas Farhat (D-Dearborn).
  • Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale).
  • Phil Green (R-Millington).
  • Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids).
  • Thomas Kuhn (R-Troy).
  • Donovan McKinney (D-Detroit).
  • Jasper Martus (D-Flushing).
  • Denise Mentzer (D-Mount Clemens).
  • Jason Morgan (D-Ann Arbor).
  • Christine Morse (D-Texas Twp.).
  • Natalie Price (D-Berkeley).
  • Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton).
  • Bill G. Schuette (R-Midland).
  • Phil Skaggs (D-Grand Rapids).
  • Bradley Slagh (R-Zeeland).
  • Will Snyder (D-Muskegon).
  • Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills).
  • Donni Steele (R-Orion Township).
  • Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park).
  • Jimmie Wilson (D-Ypsilanti).

*House DHHS Subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Christine Morse (D-Texas Twp.).

House Health Policy

  • Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo) (Chair).
  • Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) (Vice Chair).
  • Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) (Minority Vice Chair).
  • Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac).
  • Jennifer Conlin (D-Ann Arbor).
  • Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City).
  • Aalabas Farhat (D-Dearborn).
  • Graham Filler (R-DeWitt).
  • John Fitzgerald (D-Wyoming).
  • Carol Glanville (D-Walker).
  • Jim Haadsma (D-Battle Creek).
  • Reggie Miller (D-Belleville).
  • Mike Mueller (R-Linden).
  • Cynthia Neeley (D-Flint).
  • Carrie Rheingans (D-Ann Arbor).
  • John Roth (R-Traverse City).
  • Kathy Schmaltz (R-Jackson).
  • Jamie Thompson (R-Brownstown).
  • Greg VanWoerkom (R-Norton Shores).

Recapping 2022 Midterm Election Results

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Midterm election results are in, bringing new leadership to the Michigan Legislature and a returning administration at the top of the ticket. Election 2022 will bring significant change to Lansing, as Democrats will now control the Governor’s office and both chambers of the state legislature for the first time since 1984.

Below is a snapshot of some of the key election results:

  • Top of the ticket Democrats won safely. Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel all swept the top of the ticket by 8+ points.
  • Supreme court incumbents will return as well, with Justices Richard Bernstein and Brian Zahra winning reelection. Democratic-nominated justices will maintain a 4-3 advantage on the court.
  • Democrats flip a congressional seat to win a 7-6 edge on Michigan’s congressional delegation. Hilary Scholten (D-Grand Rapids) was able to defeat opponent Republican John Gibbs (R-Grand Rapids), while Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) was able to hold off a challenge from Tom Barrett (R-Potterville).
  • Democrats win majority in the Michigan House of Representatives for the first time since 2010. The new majority will be led by Michigan’s first Black speaker, Rep. Joe Tate of Detroit.
  • Democrats win majority in the Michigan Senate for the first time since 1984. The new majority will be led by Michigan’s first female Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Winnie Brinks of Grand Rapids.
  • All three of the ballot proposals succeeded handily. Michigan’s constitution will be amended to include term limit adjustments, expanded voting rights and reproductive freedom.

Overall, the legislative election results look positive for the hospital and healthcare community looking into 2023 given the stability within the executive administration and the existing relationships the MHA has established during their tenure in office. Democrats have not had a dual-chamber legislative majority in nearly 40 years, so it is expected that they will have no shortage of legislative priorities to work on.

The MHA is excited to begin working with the new leadership to address the lingering issues hospitals continue to face post-pandemic as well as having the opportunity to collaborate with legislators on new priorities. With 59 first-time legislators this year, the MHA will be working hard to build relationships with the new lawmakers in the coming days and months and encourage members to do the same.

Members with questions or needing assistance identifying their legislator should contact Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

Healthcare Community Urged to Vote in Nov. 8 General Election

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Logo for MI Vote Matters, Tuesday Nov. 8The MHA encourages its staff, members and other stakeholders in the healthcare community to vote in the state’s general election Nov. 8. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sample ballots are available through the Michigan Secretary of State website, and additional information and resources can be found on the MHA Election 2022 webpage.

Those who would like to ensure they are properly registered or need to verify their precinct number may click on “Your Voter Information” on the Michigan Secretary of State website and complete the requested information. Under Michigan’s State Constitution citizens may register to vote up to and on Election Day at their local clerk’s office.

The 2022 gubernatorial and midterm elections are critical to Michigan’s healthcare future. In addition to choosing the next governor, secretary of state and attorney general of Michigan, voters across the state will decide political contests that impact the legislative and regulatory environments faced by hospitals and the patients they serve, including two Michigan Supreme Court seats and all seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan Senate.

Three statewide ballot questions appear on this year’s ballot as well as local races. Voters should check both sides of the ballot to ensure all items are completed before submitting the ballot.

Members with questions should contact Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

MDHHS Announces Plans to Establish Stroke and Heart Attack Systems of Care

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced Oct. 28 they are reorganizing to create systems of care for stroke and acute heart attack emergencies. The Bureau of EMS, Trauma & Preparedness within the MDHHS has been renamed the Bureau of Emergency Preparedness, EMS, and Systems of Care. The new systems of care will be integrated into the existing statewide trauma system and will help ensure every patient is taken to a facility with the proper level of care for their current condition.

The announcement came in recognition of World Stroke Day on Oct. 29 and reflects several years of MHA advocacy for the initiative. The MHA successfully advocated for funding in the fiscal year (FY) 2022 and 2023 state budgets that directed the MDHHS to undergo these efforts. That $3 million line-item, which will now be a part of the trauma system, will remain a priority for the MHA going into the next budget year.

The MHA also pursued legislation this session to this effect. Senate Bill (SB) 521, introduced by Sen. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek), would have memorialized the stroke and heart attack systems of care in statute. Adam Carlson, senior vice president, advocacy, MHA and Alex Chebl, MD, director of the Henry Ford Stroke Center and head of the Division of Vascular Neurology at Henry Ford Health System, provided testimony to the committee in support of SB 521. “It is critical all patients throughout the state have access to the best stroke care possible,” said Chebl. “SB 521 is an essential step to improving the quality of stroke care in the state of Michigan.”

Official draft rules have not yet been released and the MHA will keep members informed once more information is available for comment or review.

Members with questions about these changes should contact Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

MHA Hosts Valuable Advocacy Events

The MHA participated in several advocacy events in September, providing opportunities for MHA members to share their experiences with both current and future decision-makers.

Several MHA staff helped lead a virtual advocacy event Sept. 9 for the Michigan Organization of Nurse Leaders (MONL). Nearly 100 nurse leaders and students from across the state gathered to discuss important issues facing nurses and advocate for legislative solutions. The Health Policy Committee Chairs of each chamber, Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian) and Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), joined the group to provide legislative updates, outline future priorities and share their insight on the remaining legislative term.

Dr. Cynthia McCurren, dean of nursing at U-M Flint, and Brandy Johnson, president of the Michigan Community College Association, also joined the MONL event to provide an overview of a new model that will allow for community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees in nursing. The new funding will go toward community college and university partnerships that will allow Associate Degree in Nursing graduates to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at a community college campus. Participants also received a crash course in how to advocate as a nurse and were able to earn 2.5 continuing education credit hours for their participation.

The MHA helped prepare Michigan’s next generation of leaders Sept. 16 and 17 by leading a Healthcare Weekend for the fellows of the Michigan Political Leadership Program (MPLP). The weekend event was held in Grand Rapids and organized in partnership with the Michigan Association of Health Plans (MAHP). The MPLP fellowship is made up of a diverse group of Democrats, Republicans and Independents from around the state who all have an interest in running for office.

The MPLP fellows received a Healthcare and Lobbying 101 from Dominick Pallone, executive director of the MAHP, and Marc Corriveau, vice president of government affairs at Henry Ford Health, as well as participated in a healthcare bill exercise designed to mimic health policy committee work. The fellows also visited Hope Network in Grand Rapids and learned directly from Megan Zambiasi, chief development officer of Hope Network, as well as Mark Eastburg, president and CEO of Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. Lastly, the MHA convened a lawmaker panel of Sen. Mark Huizenga (R-Walker) and Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids) to speak on how to run a successful campaign.

Brian Peters presenting Sen. Jim Stamas with his Special Recognition Award that was originally announced July 2022.

The MHA held Sept. 21 their first ever Rural Hospital Advocacy Day. Leaders from rural hospitals across the state joined MHA staff in Lansing to meet with lawmakers and share the unique challenges they are facing. MHA members were able to meet with lawmakers that are local to their hospital service areas, as well as key legislative and health policy committee leadership. The rural advocacy day came at an important time to impact decision making during lame-duck as the MHA expects several bills directly impacting rural hospitals to move before the end of the year. Some of the key issues discussed included continued hospital staffing challenges, preservation of the 340B drug pricing program and opportunities to address emergency department crowding through behavioral health investments at the state level. During the event, Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland) was also presented with his Special Recognition Award that was originally announced July 2022.

The events would not have been possible without the assistance of MHA partners and members who helped make these advocacy events a success. Members with questions about future advocacy days may contact Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

Primary Election Sets Field for November

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MI Vote Matters logoMichigan’s primary election was held Tuesday, Aug. 2, finalizing the November general election ballot. The 2022 midterm election is critical to Michigan’s healthcare future given the number of key elected positions up for election this year. Based on the primary results, the top of the ticket will include Democratic incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer against Republican nominee Tudor Dixon in the gubernatorial race, followed by attorney general, secretary of state, all 13 U.S. House of Representative seats, all seats in both the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives, two Supreme Court seats and local races.

Due to redistricting, several incumbent lawmakers in both Congress and the state legislature faced competitive primaries. Two congressional race outcomes of note include Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Waterford Township) defeating Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township) in the 11th district; and incumbent Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) losing to John Gibbs (R-Grand Rapids) in the 3rd district. Two districts that will not feature incumbents in November are the 10th district where John James (R-Farmington Hills) will run against Carl Marlinga (D-Sterling Heights) and the 13th district where state representative Shri Thander’s (D-Detroit) victory in the primary has him positioned as the presumed favorite in a heavily Democratic leaning district.

A handful of state legislative incumbents also lost in the primary. Redistricting had Rep. Andrew Beeler (R-Port Huron) facing Rep. Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair) in the 83rd district, with Rep. Beeler winning the Republication nomination. The same situation occurred in the Senate with Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) defeating Sen. Marshall Bullock (D-Detroit). Other incumbents who lost were Rep. Rodney Wakeman (R-Frankenmuth), Rep. Terrence Mekoski (R-Shelby Township), Rep. Richard Steenland (D-Roseville) and Sen. Kim LaSata (R-Niles).

One race that remains to be officially decided is the 34th House District Republican primary. Sen. Dale Zorn (R-Ida) received 4,774 votes, seven more than the second place candidate Ryan Rank. However, Rank has requested a recount.

A candidate listing is currently available on the MHA’s 2022 Election page online.

The MHA will also be preparing and distributing nonpartisan election resources and tools for members following the conclusion of the nominating conventions. These materials are designed to encourage voter education and participation at the local level and will be available on the MHA 2022 Election webpage. The MHA will also feature regular election updates on its Facebook and Twitter feeds using #MIVoteMatters.

For more information about the 2022 primary and general election, visit the Michigan Voter Information Center or contact Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

Healthcare Community Urged to Vote in Aug. 2 Primary Election

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The MHA encourages its staff, members and other stakeholders in the healthcare community to vote in the state’s primary election Aug. 2. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sample ballots are available through the Michigan Secretary of State website, and additional information and resources can be found on the MHA Election 2022 webpage. Voters may only vote in one party section for the entire ballot. Ballots with votes in more than one party section will not be counted. Voters are also encouraged to vote in nonpartisan sections of their ballots.

Those who would like to ensure they are properly registered or need to verify their precinct number may click on “Your Voter Information” on the Michigan Secretary of State website and type in the requested information. The November 2018 passage of the state constitutional amendment, Promote the Vote Ballot Proposal, allows citizens to register to vote up to and on Election Day at their local clerk’s office.

The 2022 gubernatorial and midterm elections are critical to Michigan’s healthcare future. In addition to choosing the next governor, secretary of state and attorney general of Michigan, voters across the state will decide political contests that impact the legislative and regulatory environments faced by hospitals and the patients they serve, including two Michigan Supreme Court seats and all seats in both the U.S. House of Representatives, the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan Senate. Based on the political makeup of legislative districts, the results of the primary election often determine who will take office in January.

Following the August primary and the Democratic and Republican state conventions at the end of the month, the MHA will once again offer members a series of nonpartisan communication tools designed to encourage voter education and participation at the local level for the Nov. 8 general election. The MHA will also feature regular election updates on its Facebook and Twitter feeds using the hashtag #MIVoteMatters. Members with questions should contact Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

Guardianship, Medical Laboratory Registry Bills Advance

capitol buildingSeveral bills impacting hospitals were acted upon during the week of June 20 while the governor and legislative leadership continued negotiations on the fiscal year 2023 state budget. In the Senate, legislation to create a new registry for certain specialized laboratories was advanced from committee. In the House, the Judiciary Committee reported the package of bills to regulate and license professional guardians to the House floor for further consideration.

The Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee held further testimony on a bill to register certain medical laboratories in Michigan. Senate Bill (SB) 812, introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), would create a registry for interventional pain management, kidney access, and vascular laboratories. As currently written, SB 812 would not provide any form of oversight or clinical requirements for the registered labs, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services would not have authority to deny or remove registered labs from the list. The MHA has not taken a position on the bill but is closely monitoring the issue.

The House Judiciary Committee held its third and final hearing on the guardianship package, House Bills 4847, 4848, 4849 and 4850. The MHA has not taken an official position on the bills, but provided written testimony to the committee to voice concern on the potential impact to hospitals. The proposed legislation would significantly increase requirements on professional guardians and limit the number of individuals an uncertified guardian could represent. The MHA supports a strong guardianship program in which qualified individuals are available for incapacitated patients in need of a decision-maker, but remains concerned that hospitals will struggle to find guardians for some patients without increased funding. House Judiciary Committee members supported the package, which now moves to the House floor for further consideration. The MHA will continue to discuss potential solutions with the Legislature, including ways to increase opportunities for family members to assume decision-making authority in times of emergency.

Any questions or comments on this legislation may be directed to Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

Governor Signs Broadband Funding Bill

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capitol buildingGov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a $4.7 billion supplemental appropriations bill into law March 30. Senate Bill 565, introduced by Sen. Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo), will provide supplemental appropriations to implement a statewide broadband program.

The new law includes $250 million and eight new full-time positions for the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI). The new full-time positions will be responsible for developing a broadband plan that can access more federal dollars in the future. The MHA supports the MIHI funding, which will help Michigan take advantage of available federal appropriations to ensure access to reliable broadband for telehealth.

Members with any questions on SB 565 may contact Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

Governor Signs MHA-supported Trauma System Legislation

MHA staff members Sean Sorenson-Abbott (left) and Adam Carlson testified before the House Health Policy Committee Oct. 7.
MHA staff members Sean Sorenson-Abbott (left) and Adam Carlson testified before the House Health Policy Committee Oct. 7.
MHA staff members Sean Sorenson-Abbott (left) and Adam Carlson testified before the House Health Policy Committee Oct. 7.

A bill to fund the statewide trauma system was signed during the week of Oct. 4 and several bills impacting hospitals were taken up in the House and Senate health policy committees.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill (HB) 5094 into law Oct. 7, providing full funding for Michigan’s statewide trauma system. HB 5094 was introduced by Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township) and was supported by the MHA. The statewide trauma system is crucial for patient safety, especially during the ongoing pandemic.

In the House Health Policy Committee, the MHA provided testimony in support of two bills to expand the allowable use of the Essential Health Provider Loan Repayment Program. Senate Bills (SBs) 246 and 435 were introduced by Sens. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) and Mike MacDonald (R-Macomb Township). The bills would expand the maximum allowable loan repayment from $200,000 to $300,000 for up to 10 years of service in a health resource shortage area, as well as allow for more mental health professionals to qualify. The MHA proposed two amendments to SB 435 that would extend the sunset on the interstate medical licensure compact and allow “midsize vital hospitals” to use the program. Midsize vital hospitals are smaller hospitals that provide 24/7 emergency care and key regional services in communities that require facilities with more than the 25 beds critical access hospitals are limited to.

The House Health Policy Committee voted on HB 5163, which was introduced by Rep. Angela Witwer (D-Delta Township) and would create an opt-out grant program for hospitals to establish medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for substance use disorders in their emergency departments. The committee reported the MHA-supported bill to the House floor, where discussion will continue.

The Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee voted on SB 579, a bill on MAT programs introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) that is identical to HB 5163. The bill will now be discussed on the Senate floor. The committee also took testimony on SBs 637 and 638, legislation that would establish a new behavioral health jail diversion program and a local mental health crisis response grant program.

Members with questions on state legislation affecting healthcare may contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.