Health bills nearing passage in the Michigan Legislature
The Michigan Legislature reconvenes on Jan. 12 and both chambers have a slew of bills lined up for their first meeting of 2022 next week. Ahead of the start of this year’s session, here are some of the health bills that are being carried over from last year and that are the furthest along in the legislative process.
These health bills are all scheduled for a third reading in their second chamber—typically one of the last steps before a bill becomes law.
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A bill from Rep. Sue Allor (R – Benton) would prohibit state and local governments from requiring COVID vaccination passports. Called the “COVID-19 Vaccine Privacy Act,” the legislation would bar a government entity from requiring proof of vaccination to access public services and from imposing a fine on Michiganders who haven’t been vaccinated. The bill passed the House with a 62-47 vote last June. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is supportive of inoculation requirements, having announced her support of President Biden’s vaccine mandate for health care workers last month.
Sen. Curt VanderWall (R – Grand Rapids), chair of the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee, has two on-deck health bills. Senate Bill 428 would exempt individuals under five years old from any government-enforced mask mandates. The bill passed the Senate with a 20-15 vote last May.
Michigan has no statewide mask mandate but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) have both recommended mask-wearing for K-12 students in school settings. Such mandates are being enforced on a county-by-county level, with some jurisdictions implementing masking requirements and some not.
VanderWall’s other teed-up health bill, SB 166, would allow Michigan pharmacists to dispense medications or devices prescribed by providers, advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants in other states. The bill passed the Senate unanimously in March 2021.
Sen. Dale Zorn’s (R- Tecumseh) bill to have Michigan join the 34 other states in the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact is scheduled to be heard in the House after passing its chamber of origin 25-10 last February. The state’s entrance in the compact would allow licensed physical therapists in participating states to come to Michigan to practice—and vice versa—rather than having to go through a new licensure process. Read more about the details of the compact here.
Rep. Luke Meerman (R – Allendale) is sponsoring HB 4356 to allow physicians or optometrists to evaluate patients’ contact lens prescriptions via telehealth. The House approved this bill by a five-vote margin last March.
Rep. Annette Glenn’s (R – Midland) HB 4558 aims to support health professionals by reimbursing the cost of their licensure or licensure renewal in the event of a public health emergency that prohibits them from working. It passed the House 100-10 last June.