Peters Focuses on Rural Hospital Challenges in Rural Innovation eXchange Story

MHA CEO Brian Peters

MHA CEO Brian Peters

Rural Innovation eXchange interviewed MHA CEO Brian Peters for a story published April 28 that examines the challenges facing rural hospitals in Michigan.

Peters discussed staffing shortages and efforts to improve workforce sustainability, the impact of COVID-19 on hospital finances and cybersecurity threats.

“The [workforce] pipeline is going to be so important,” said Peters. “The pipeline as it exists today is not adequate, particularly in rural areas, which are significantly older than non-rural areas and have older and sicker patients. This also means that the phenomenon of folks leaving the field is felt more acutely in rural communities.”

Other healthcare executives appearing in the story include John T. Foss, vice president of operations, Mercy Health Lakeshore Campus; Steve Barnett, president and CEO, McKenzie Health; and JJ Hodshire, president and CEO, Hillsdale Hospital.

The MHA also provided comment to Michigan Radio for a story published April 27 on increasing COVID hospitalizations due to the omicron BA.2 variant.

“…[B]ut there are clear indications that the severity of illness is down and so we hope there will not be a surge of COVID hospitalizations like the state has experienced previously,” said John Karasinski, director, communications, MHA.

MHA Members Testify Before Senate Committee on CRNA Legislation

capitol building

The Senate’s Health and Human Services Policy Committee addressed a pair of bills relevant to hospitals during the week of May 17. The committee took testimony on House Bill (HB) 4359, which would modernize the scope of practice for certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs). The committee also took up Senate Bill (SB) 440, which would remove certain positron emission tomography (PET) scanner services from Certificate of Need (CON) oversight.

Steve Barnett, president and CEO, McKenzie Health, and David Jahn, president and CEO, War Memorial Hospital, provided testimony May 20 to the committee in support of HB 4359. “This legislation will increase access to healthcare for Michigan residents. It will reduce costs for Michigan residents. It will permit CRNAs to practice to the full extent of what their license already provides for – and it will do all of this while maintaining every bit of patient safety,” said Jahn.

The MHA supports HB 4359 that, by modernizing the scope of practice for CRNAs, would allow flexibility for each hospital to choose the anesthesia care model that best fits its location, staffing and resources to offer safe and effective patient care. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Township), would also bring Michigan in line with 42 other states and the U.S. military on this issue. This change would eliminate a costly regulation while maintaining patient safety and would put into law a policy that has been allowed and proven effective during the COVID-19 pandemic. Current Michigan law requires a licensed physician of any specialty to supervise a CRNA to deliver anesthesia care.  

The committee also voted to report SB 440, introduced by Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), to the Senate floor. The MHA supports Michigan’s existing CON process and is opposed to the bill that would, by removing certain full body PET scanner services from CON oversight, undermine the program that ensures high-quality, accessible, cost-effective care for patients in the state. The specific technology this bill seeks to address is expected to be before the CON Commission at its June meeting. The MHA will continue to monitor any action that is taken.

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

State Department of Health and Human Services Addresses MHA Legislative Policy Panel

Steve Barnett

The MHA Legislative Policy Panel’s virtual meeting was led by Chair Steve Barnett, president and CEO, McKenzie Health System.The MHA Legislative Policy Panel convened its first meeting of the program year virtually Sept. 23 to develop recommendations for the MHA Board of Trustees on legislative initiatives impacting Michigan hospitals.

The meeting was highlighted by a presentation from Andrea Taverna, senior adviser on opioid strategy, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Taverna discussed the Michigan Opioid Task Force’s opioid package, including proposed legislation to implement emergency department (ED)-based medication assisted treatment (MAT) statewide. The panel recommended the MHA oppose the proposed legislation as written because of its mandatory nature and the belief that the decision to offer ED-based MAT should be made on the local level. The MHA will collect feedback from members and continue to work with the MDHHS to convey concerns regarding the mandate and offer a voluntary community-based approach where individual hospitals would make the determination on the local level.

Following that discussion, the MHA provided updates on COVID-19 efforts, the state fiscal year 2021 budget, expected activities during the Legislature’s lame-duck session and the upcoming 2020 election.

For more information on the MHA Legislative Policy Panel, contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.