MHA highlights health bills that recently moved before summer break

The Michigan Legislature’s last day before their summer break was Thursday, July 1st. Before the break, lawmakers were working hard to move many health-related bills through committee and onto the floor. 

 

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Adam Carlson, Vice President of Advocacy at the Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA), said the legislature is headed in the right direction and sits in a good spot heading into the summer break. State of Reform spoke with Carlson about the legislation  that has recently been on the move.

“I would say they have addressed some of our priorities. Obviously there is more work to be done, but I feel like we are in a very good place right now as it relates to health care. We are very appreciative of everything the legislature has done to improve health care in Michigan.”

Carlson says lawmakers are working to pass bills to streamline prior authorization, to give more power to certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) and to provide more medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) in emergency rooms. 

House Bill 4359 passed out of the House and Senate last week. The bill would modernize the scope of practice for CRNAs, allowing them to administer anesthetic care without the supervision of physicians. Carlson said MHA was involved in assisting the legislature with amendments and saw strong bipartisan support on the bill. The bill waits for Governor Whitmer’s signature. 

A new health care bill, Senate Bill 579, was introduced Wednesday, June 30th and would require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to provide grants for hospitals to institute medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs for opioid use disorder in ERs. 

This would allow someone with overdose symptoms to receive treatment right away and not have to wait to be transferred to MAT services. According to MHA, the bill would remove barriers for other providers to offer treatment. Carlson said:

“Coming out of the pandemic, we are faced with significant behavioral health issues. Tied into that is the opioid epidemic that has continued to hit Michiganders especially hard [in relation to the rest of the country].”

Carlson also highlighted Senate Bill 416, which was reported to the House floor by the House Health Policy Committee last week. The bill would modify reciprocity requirements for Canadian health professionals who want to practice in the state of Michigan. This would allow Canadians who have taken previous medical exams applicable to their profession to apply for a license in the state. 

Another bill with recent movement is House Bill 5089 which would allow registered professional nurses to train nurses’ aides without a permit for upwards of four months after the COVID-19 emergency declaration. The bill also would amend the Public Health Code to allow an applicant to be registered as a nurse’s aide with modified requirements during the COVID-19 public health emergency with the same four month grace period. The bill currently sits in the House Health Policy Committee. 

When asked about his biggest concerns for the remainder of the session, Carlson pointed to shortages of the qualified health care workforce. Carlson said the pandemic led to many individuals leaving the health care workforce. He says this could be fixed by student loan forgiveness and other potential incentives. 

“The pandemic has certainly highlighted the importance of health care, but it has also led to a lot of retirements and a lot of folks not wanting to work in health care anymore. So trying to make sure that we have a real robust workforce is one of our top priorities for this fall.”