Workforce provisions are front and center in the Michigan Legislature and Governor’s office

As Michigan’s 2021 legislative session comes to a close, the legislature and Governor Gretchen Whitmer are still making efforts to improve and augment the health care workforce in Michigan. These measures continue the theme of providing financial and programmatic support to assist the health care workforce due to significant shortages brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The legislature moved on Senate Bill 759 and House Bill 5523 before their break for the holidays and Whitmer signed an executive order calling for the creation of the Nursing Home Workforce Stabilization Council.

 

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SB 759 would codify a temporary public health emergency (PHE) provision allowing licensed out-of-state providers in good standing to practice without a Michigan-specific license. This temporary provision is set to expire on Jan. 11, giving the bill a short timeline for the legislature to act. 

According to the Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA), the bill will allow hospitals and health systems to work more efficiently to recruit more health care professionals. By extending the recruitment pool to those out-of-state, more professionals can be added to the recruitment process, hopefully leading to a more healthy workforce. In a MHA letter to Whitmer on the importance of the temporary measure and its continuation, the association wrote:

“Your efforts contributed to not only increasing the provider workforce and ensuring access to patient care, but also provides relief to health care staff who are reaching or are beyond the point of exhaustion.”

SB 759 passed the House last week and is now on the governor’s desk awaiting a signature.  

HB 5523 is a supplemental budget bill which would allocate $1.2 billion in federal funds to COVID-19 relief efforts, including $300 million to employers for retaining and recruiting more health care workers. The $300 million will also be used to increase staff and build monoclonal antibody distribution stations throughout the state.

The Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance has advocated for $650 million to support the workforce pipeline to support the needs of hospitals, nursing facilities, and emergency medical services.  

HB 5523 passed out of the House last week and is awaiting action in the Senate. 

The governor’s office has also been working to assist the health care workforce in Michigan, especially the nursing home workforce. Whitmer signed an executive order last week to create the Nursing Home Workforce Stabilization Council. 

The Council will act as an advisory body within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and aims to recommend policy change and administrative action to support the nursing home workforce. The order said:

“The formation of an advisory council, consisting of employees, employers, state government officials, nursing home residents, and the public, will provide valuable guidance and recommendations, informed by an understanding of this complicated framework, to ensure Michigan has the tools to support quality care and workforce stabilization in nursing homes across the state.”

Whitmer will appoint five representatives of the nursing home workforce, five from employers, and three residents. Interested applicants can apply here. Applications are due by 5pm EST on Friday, Jan. 7.