5 Things Michigan: Lead poisoning bills, Whitmer’s budget, MPCA’s health equity work


Eli Kirshbaum


In this month’s edition of “5 Things We’re Watching” in Michigan, we have a run-down of some of the key health policy conversations taking place in the legislature, a look at MDHHS funding in Gov. Whitmer’s proposed budget, and a conversation with the Michigan Primary Care Association’s director of health equity and social justice.

Thanks for reading!

Eli Kirshbaum
State of Reform


1. Lawmakers take up bills on lead poisoning, rare disease advisory council

A large bipartisan coalition of legislators is sponsoring a bill package aimed at preventing child lead poisoning. The 9-bill package includes measures that would require providers to receive education on lead poisoning, require annual lead screening tests for children under 6, and require lead-based paint inspections prior to the sale of any homes built before lead-based paint was banned for consumer use in 1978. The package is being carried over from last year and awaits committee approval.

Other policy items we’re watching include Sen. Curt VanderWall’s bill to expand the licensure term for speech language pathologists from 12 to 24 months and Rep. Cara Clemente’s bill to join 21 other states who have created a rare disease advisory council. The council would provide policy recommendations to the legislature on behalf of the state’s rare disease community.


2. Topical Agenda for 2022 Michigan State of Reform Health Policy Conference now available!

We recently released the Topical Agenda for the 2022 Michigan State of Reform Health Policy Conference coming up on April 21! Take a look to see some of the conversations we have curated for our first-ever in-person conference in Michigan. If any of the panel topics peak your interest, be sure to register to attend! Proof of COVID vaccination will be required for all attendees.

We are delighted to announce that Vern Smith, Ph.D., an HMA veteran with tremendous experience in the health policy world, is stepping up to host and moderate all of our spring events. We are so grateful to have Vern join us and host our next several conferences.

3. Whitmer’s budget prioritizes dental care reform

Gov. Whitmer’s FY 2023 executive budget calls for $33.4 billion in total funds for MDHHS, making up 40% of the overall budget. This includes $859 million for Medicaid caseload adjustments, $500 million in “hero pay” for essential workers, and $300 million for workforce retention.

The budget allocates $248 million in total funds for improving access to dental services through contracting with dental health plans ($243.3 million) and increasing dental procedure reimbursement rates ($4.3 million). This funding would be used to procure services for Kids Dental, Health Michigan Plan Dental, and FFS adult dental care under one managed care contract. The state says this will help adults receive dental services that are more comparable to those currently enjoyed by children.


4. Q&A: MPCA health equity director on implicit bias in health care

Addressing implicit bias in Michigan health care is a top priority for the Michigan Primary Care Association’s director of health equity and social justice, Debbie Edokpolo. She recently spoke with State of Reform reporter Patrick Jones about MPCA’s health equity work, emphasizing ongoing racial disparities in diabetes diagnoses, high blood pressure rates, and infant mortality.

Edokpolo praised Gov. Whitmer’s requirement for Michigan health care providers to receive implicit bias training, emphasizing that both patients and providers are impacted by it. She also cited Michigan’s Medicaid expansion and coverage of virtual visits through Medicaid as steps in the right direction for improving health equity.

5. Michigan leaders offer differing solutions to BH integration

The initiative to add BH integration through private Medicaid Plans “would better integrate the Medicaid program financially, operationally, and clinically through a public procurement process that’s intended to select several SIPs,” according to MAHP Executive Director Dominick Pallone. Pallone made these comments during the “On the ground: Michigan” panel at last month’s 2022 State of Reform Federal Health Policy Conference.

Rep. Mary Whiteford has an alternative plan for BH reform. Her proposed bill package would get rid of Michigan’s “bureaucracy” of BH coverage and replace the state’s 10 current PIHPs with a single administrative services organization, running the Medicaid BH program directly through the state. “The more layers you put between [the state funds and the people], the more cost to the taxpayers there are,” she said during the panel.