Michigan bill on anatomical donor registry information moves to Senate Floor, bill on foster care placement responsibilities signed by Gov. Whitmer

By

Soraya Marashi

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Bills related to health facilities providing information on anatomical donations and foster care for children recently moved in the Michigan Legislature. 

 

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Senate Bill 1025, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), would allow a physician’s private practice office or urgent care center to ask each new patient that is between 18 and 45 years of age, either verbally or in written or electronic form, whether that patient is interested in information on donating bone marrow and to provide this information to the patient. 

Under the bill, the information provided to the patient must include contact information for bone marrow donation programs in the state. 

The bill would also allow a physician’s private practice office or urgent care center to ask if the patient is interested in receiving information on the organ and tissue donor registry and, upon the patient’s request, provide the patient with educational materials further explaining this process. 

In his testimony on the bill, Schmidt highlighted recent declines in people signing up to be potential donors.

According to the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, the registry has been growing at the slowest pace since its founding in 1994, citing fewer in-person transactions and more online transactions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My bill offers more opportunities for people to become educated and informed if they wish to be placed on the donor registry and the process on how to become a lifesaving donor,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt emphasized that the bill is not a mandate, and would simply serve to formalize the process more as well as raise attention to the issue.

The bill was referred to the Senate Floor on Oct. 11th and has yet to be heard.

SB 1166, sponsored by Sen. Curtis VanderWall (R – Ludington) and signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Oct. 7th, would amend the Foster Care and Adoption Services Act to require that child placement preferences be given to a 5th-degree adult relative of the child, unless there is good reason for an exception.

The bill would also require the Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to serve as a supervising agency, where MDHHS is required to identify, locate, notify, and consult with relatives to determine placement “… with a fit and appropriate relative who would meet the child’s developmental, emotional, and physical needs.”

The bill would also require MDHHS to make reasonable efforts to place siblings together unless that would harm the wellbeing of the children.

“[The bill] adds language which gives the department some additional flexibility for child placement if there is good cause,” VanderWall said about the bill in his testimony. “Ultimately, the goal is to allow for placement that suits the best interest of the child and family reunification. In many cases, it is important to allow placement preferences to blood relatives, but there is also an understanding that this may not always be realistic. This change allows the department [to handle] some of those cases with more scrutiny and make judgements based on the child’s best interest.”

The bill notes that it would only take effect if HB 5974 also goes into law. HB 5974 was also signed by Whitmer on Oct. 7th, and expands the definition of the term “relative” to include an individual who is at least 18 years old and is related to a child in the 5th-degree by blood, marriage, or adoption, as well as an individual who is at least 18 years old who is not related to the child within the 5th-degree but plays a strong emotional role in the child’s life.