This month’s newsletter includes a run-down of some of the new health legislation being considered by the Michigan Legislature, information about the state’s new constitutional amendment safeguarding the right to an abortion, and the state’s plan to relaunch its family planning services through Medicaid.
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State of Reform
1. Newly introduced health legislation
The Michigan Legislature recently introduced a bill to require pediatricians to conduct mental health screenings for new mothers on a periodic basis until their child turns 18 months. They would be required to provide a list of common postpartum conditions and available treatments. Another new bill would establish a doula scholarship program to increase the number of doulas certified in Michigan. These bills are both pending action.
Republican legislators also recently brought forward a bill that would classify an adult’s involvement in the provision of “gender transition procedures” as child abuse. The bill’s sponsor argues that children aren’t equipped to consent to these life-changing procedures, while opposing organizations like Equality Michigan are urging stakeholders to tell their representatives to block the effort.
2. Abortion is now constitutionally protected in Michigan
Last week, the ballot measure to enshrine the right to obtain an abortion into the state constitution passed with a nearly 57% majority. This likely invalidates a 1931 law banning abortions even in the case of rape or incest, which was placed under a preliminary injunction by a judge following separate lawsuits filed by Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Gov. Whitmer.
Nicole Wells Stallworth, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood of Michigan, made a statement in response to Proposal 3’s passage. “Michigan has made history as the first state in the nation to pass an affirmative citizen-initiated constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to an abortion,” Stallworth said. “But we will not be the last. This victory will provide a blueprint to other states looking to use the power of direct democracy to restore reproductive rights previously protected under Roe.”
3. Michigan to relaunch Medicaid family planning program
To address the significant number of low-income Michiganders who aren’t eligible for Medicaid-sponsored family planning programs, the State of Michigan has announced its plan to submit an 1115 waiver request to the federal government to restart the “Plan First!” family planning program. The program was phased out in 2016 because the ACA’s individual mandate was deemed to meet its goals.
Following the removal of the individual mandate in 2017, MDHHS says family planning service gaps have grown, with around 25,000 Michiganders with incomes below 200% of the FPL currently unqualified for Medicaid family planning programs. “MDHHS is committed to expanding access to healthcare—including family planning services,” the department told State of Reform. “Women and families need access to services to help them determine when and if they want to start a family.” The initiative is projected to save participants $2,000 per individual per year.
4. MiHIN works to onboard more LTC facilitites to statewide health data exchange
The Michigan Health Information Network recently announced a partnership with PointClickCare Technologies that aims to engage more long-term care facilities in the statewide health information exchange. According to MiHIN Executive Director Tim Pletcher, PointClickCare has an expansive network of electronic medical records in LTC facilities across the state and will help bring these facilities into the health data sharing ecosystem.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is currently the only organization that provides incentives for LTC facilities to connect to the HIE, and the number of such facilities they reach is limited, Pletcher said. “But PointClickCare has really got some capabilities to make it one-button easy for those long-term care facilities to include their data and position them to be able to receive data back from everybody else.”
5. Michigan Medicine CEO lays out 2023 priorities
MHA recently hosted a podcast featuring commentary from U of M Health – Michigan Medicine Vice President and CEO T. Anthony Denton, during which he emphasized Michigan Medicine’s commitment to supporting the health workforce. He described how Michigan Medicine is partnering with educational institutions to recruit new health professionals, as well as conducting workforce violence prevention programs and counseling services to promote retention.
Another priority for his organization is continuing to address health inequities. Denton said he’s particularly focused on food insecurity, saying initiatives like the Michigan Harvest Gathering are effective ways to support the almost 2 million food-insecure Michiganders. “The linkage between food nutrition and overall health is so vital for our communities to be able to thrive,” Denton said.