5 Things Michigan: Health in the budget, MHA policy priorities, Addressing racial disparities

While DJ is out trying to get in a well-deserved vacation, I’ll be bringing you this edition of 5 Things We’re Watching. I’m the managing editor here at State of Reform where I have my eye on health care and health policy in Michigan and a number of other states.

Feel free to email me any feedback or tips on what you think we should be covering!


Emily Boerger
State of Reform

1. MHA outlines priority legislation

Ahead of the legislature’s summer recess, State of Reform caught up with Adam Carlson at the Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA) for an update on where the association’s priority legislation stands. Key bills on the move include: SB 416, which would modify reciprocity requirements for Canadian health professionals, and HB 4359, which would “modernize the scope of practice for CRNAs.”

Carlson also highlighted Senate Bill 579, which was introduced last week and would require MDHHS to provide grants for hospitals to institute medication assisted treatment (MAT) programs for opioid use disorder. Looking toward the rest of the year, Carlson says a top priority for MHA is finding ways to support a robust health care workforce.

2. Health conversations in the budget

The health and human services budget bills – SB 79 and HB 4399 – were referred to conference committee last month and haven’t moved since. The budgets, which Steve Angelotti at the Senate Fiscal Agency describes as “a continuation budget without any dramatic changes,” include a few new spending items such as $26.5 million to establish 14 integrated behavioral and physical health clinics.

The $2.1 million proposed in Gov. Whitmer’s executive budget to establish the Office of Race, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Enhancement isn’t included in either the House or Senate versions of the budget. Last week, however, the Senate passed supplemental appropriations bill HB 4410 which includes $160 million in grant funding for hospitals impacted by the pandemic and $100 million to provide a $23 per Medicaid day increase to certain nursing facilities.


3. Video: Dr. Corey Waller, HMA

Dr. Corey Waller is the Managing Director of the Health Management Associates (HMA) Institute on Addiction. In this video, Waller discusses the importance of addiction treatment in Michigan’s correctional system.

“One of the things that we look at to build better systems of care for addiction and mental health is we identify those [individuals] that really do want to get better and are working toward that. And we create cohorts within jails or prisons so that they can be together and they can work collectively toward that goal of stabilizing their substance use disorder, stabilizing their mental health disorder, or reconnecting with their families so that when they leave and become a part of our community again, they’re ready to do so and they can do so productively.”


4. ICYMI: State of Reform panel discussions

In case you missed it, we have more content available from the 2021 Michigan State of Reform Health Policy Conference! We’ve made available the full video of our “Addressing racial disparities in health outcomes” panel which touched on a range of issues including systemic racism, health equity-related legislation, the social determinants of health, and data collection.

We also have coverage of our “Schools as a hub for community health” panel where panelists discussed the Whole Child model and the impact of the pandemic on youth mental health. Be sure to also check out this panel discussion which offers an update on the health care workforce challenges facing the state.


5. Three lessons from Vox’s story on physician mental health

In a 4,700-word piece titled “The doctors are not all right,” Vox explores the structural barriers in place that make it difficult for doctors to access mental health care. The article highlights stories of physicians who have died by suicide, COVID-19’s impacts on physician mental health, and efforts to make it easier for doctors to access care. Here are our three lessons learned from the piece.

Vox Correspondent Julia Belluz describes suicide as an “occupational hazard” in the medical field. “The problems emerge in the high-stress years of medical school, and by the start of residency — when doctors’ DNA was found to age six times faster than that of their non-physician peers — rates of depression increase fourfold in the first four months. Across all residency programs, an average of one-third of doctors meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression.”