Understanding the workforce’s values, preferences, triggers and character traits is essential to developing relationships that create a healthy organization. This may sound basic, but many organizations continue to miss the mark. In a 2022 study conducted by the MHA and Escalent, the feeling of not having a voice and lack of communication by leadership is a main reason workers left healthcare. Understanding fundamental needs and creating policies that meet these needs is critical to the chaotic climate that exists now.
Human resource professionals are encouraged to join the All Too Human: Thoughts on Workforce webinar from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Jan. 26, 2023 for the opportunity to share ways to meet the needs of a diverse workforce. Conversations will be led by Patrick Irwin, Henry Ford Health, Marla Stuck, Oaklawn Hospital, and Deloris Hunt, Michigan Medicine.
Based on requirements in legislative boilerplate, the MHA created and distributed to the Michigan Legislature Sept. 28 a report on the results of the state healthcare workforce grant, which brought $225 million to Michigan hospitals for workforce recruitment, retention and training.
The report includes the categories for which the funding was used, the total number of healthcare workers impacted and financial data on the exorbitant growth in labor expense since 2020. Specifically, total statewide labor expense by hospitals per year is estimated to grow by more than $1 billion in just two years. In addition, 69,000 healthcare workers have already benefitted from the workforce grant funds.
The document also includes specific examples and testimonials from several hospitals throughout the state on the benefits of the state funding and how it has been used. The submission of workforce data by MHA members has been extremely useful in the creation of the report and demonstrating the impacts of increased labor expenses in advocacy efforts.
For questions on the report and the state healthcare workforce grant, please contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.
The fiscal year (FY) 2023 state budget bills were approved by the Michigan Legislature July 1. House Bill (HB) 5783 and Senate Bill (SB) 845, which provide for the FY 2023 budget, now go to the governor’s desk for final review and signature into law.
In a statement released July 1, MHA CEO Brian Peters said, “The fiscal year 2023 state budget approved by the Michigan Legislature provides necessary resources to assist hospitals and health systems in advancing the health of individuals and communities throughout our state. We appreciate the work and consideration placed by lawmakers that continues to protect hospital priorities.”
These priorities include maintaining funding for the Healthy Michigan Plan, graduate medical education of physician residents, disproportionate share hospitals that treat the highest numbers of uninsured and underinsured patients, the rural access pool and obstetrical stabilization fund, and critical access hospital reimbursement rates, all of which support access to healthcare services in rural areas. Each of these areas are instrumental in keeping hospitals financially secure, particularly in areas serving vulnerable and underserved populations.
The budget also supports MHA and hospital priorities with new funding to improve and enhance state behavioral health facility capacity and address the healthcare workforce. Michigan lacks adequate capacity to treat patients with behavioral and mental illness, and this new funding is an important and necessary step to address the shortage. The investment of state funds to expand access to Bachelor of Science in nursing degree programs at the state’s community colleges is a significant movement toward replenishing Michigan’s healthcare talent pipeline.
In other action, the House of Representatives supported legislation to create an opt-out grant program for hospitals to establish medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for substance use disorders in their emergency departments. SB 579, introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), now returns to the Senate for a final concurrence vote before it is sent for the governor’s signature. Hospitals provided MAT programs prior to introduction of the bill, and the MHA has already partnered with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to implement the first round of grants provided under this legislation. No hospitals would be required to participate in the program.
The full Senate advanced to the House of Representatives a bill to register certain medical laboratories in Michigan. SB 812, also introduced by VanderWall, 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 MDHHS 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 any changes.
Finally, a bill related to telemedicine was introduced in the Senate. SB 1135, introduced by Sen. Mike MacDonald (R-Macomb Township), would amend the state’s Social Welfare Act to ensure that recent expansions in telehealth visit coverage also apply to the Medicaid Medical Assistance Program and Healthy Michigan Program. The bill would specify that recipients are covered equally for telehealth visits, expand the “distant site” definition, and ensure that providers are reimbursed at an equal rate to in-person services. The MHA is reviewing the legislation and has not yet taken a position on the bill. The association will keep members apprised of future action.
Members with questions on state legislation related to healthcare should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.
The current surge of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 has continued its downward trend. The seven-day average of hospitalizations in the U.S. as of Feb. 13 was 80,185, down from 136,534 Jan. 20. Michigan hospitalizations for confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 included 1,896 adults and 71 children as of Feb. 16, down from the Jan. 20 totals of 4,554 adults and 130 children.
The MHA continues to keep members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.
Governor Signs Supplemental Budget Dedicating $300 Million to Healthcare Workforce
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Feb. 16 signed House Bill 5523, a $1.2 billion supplemental funding bill that includes$300 million for healthcare providers for recruitment, retention and training purposes, $225 million of which will be specifically for acute-care and behavioral health hospitals. MHA Board Chair and BHSH System President & CEO Tina Freese Decker provided comments of appreciation for the governor signing the bill in the official announcement. (See related article.)
MDHHS Rescinds Indoor Mask Advisory with Exceptions
The statewide indoor masking advisory that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued earlier in the omicron surge was rescinded Feb. 16. However, the state continues to recommend masking in healthcare settings and some other high-risk indoor locations.
While hospitalizations have improved significantly recently, the MHA continues to encourage people to voluntarily wear high-quality masks when in indoor public spaces, especially if they are immunocompromised or haven’t yet been fully vaccinated.
The state also announced that it will monitor and act on COVID-19 cycles in the following three key phases:
Response — Local and state public health implement rapid response to a surge. The public may be advised to increase masking, testing and social distancing.
Recovery — Post-surge. No immediate resurgence predicted. Local and state public health will monitor conditions that could lead to future surges.
Readiness — A surge in cases is expected, with implications for severity of illness and hospital capacity. Increased communication to the public regarding possible new risks.
More Data Sought on Pfizer Vaccine for Children 6 Months through 4 Years
The MHA continues to monitor Pfizer’s actions to seek approval for a vaccine for kids aged 6 months through 4 years. Pfizer recently sought federal approval of the vaccine for this age group, but paused its request days later due to efficacy questions related to dosage. It is now awaiting further data about three doses for this age group before renewing its request for approval under emergency use authorization. The association will keep members apprised of any developments on this or related issues. Members with vaccine questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.
The following statement can be attributed to Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.
The pandemic has challenged hospitals throughout the state and, on behalf of our members, we commend Gov. Whitmer for signing today a state budget that continues vital funding sources for our hospitals, increases support for direct care workers and ambulance services, and maintains extended Medicaid coverage for mothers up to 12 months postpartum. We extend equal appreciation to both the Legislature and Gov. Whitmer and her administration for passing a budget on time that maintains access to care throughout Michigan.
As our hospitals continue to face both a behavioral health and workforce crisis that is stressing hospitals to capacity, we look forward to continued discussions on how additional state and federal funding can be allocated through the supplemental budget process to secure support for transformational solutions