State Legislative Update
The state legislature was very busy this week on bills that MPCA has been tracking. The House Health Policy Committee held hearings on both Senate Bill 92, a bill that would require licensing of pharmacy technicians, and on House Bill 4576, a bill that would require certification and background checks for people who would be acting as navigators to help people understand and enroll in insurance products through the Health Insurance Marketplace in Michigan. MPCA provided testimony in support of SB 92 and supported HB 4576 in concept with some concerns, offering to work with the bill sponsor on language to address those concerns.
Finally, the House Committee on Michigan Competitiveness held a hearing and took testimony on Wednesday on House Bill 4714, the bill dealing with extension of Medicaid benefits to people with incomes at or below 133 percent of poverty. MPCA testified, expressing support for the concepts of reform/expansion and raising concerns over the potential unintended consequences of certain provisions including the 48-month time limit. Others testifying included:
• Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, expressing support in concept and also outlining the success they’ve had with certain incentive-based products and how the state could realize similar savings with the right reforms
• Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, expressing the need for reforms first, including revisiting the benefits Medicaid provides, and recognizing the need to ultimately expand coverage
• Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, expressing support for expanding coverage but opposing the legislation due to several concerns they have with the reforms as they stand
• A workgroup that was convened in the last few days at the request of Rep. Shirkey, being represented by Michigan Association of Health Plans, Michigan Health and Hospital Association, Small Business Association of Michigan and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce (but that also included a couple other organizations), laying out a potential formula by which uncompensated care reductions could be measured and savings could be identified for the state. The details of this plan weren’t ready by the hearing but will hopefully be prepared by Monday, and will likely be incorporated into a substitute bill by Chairman Shirkey and the committee as they try to keep this issue moving.
At the end of the hearing, Chairman Shirkey stated that committee meetings would be scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week (June 11 and 12) and that, most importantly, he hopes to have substitute language ready for review by the committee by Monday. It is not known what the final bill will contain but it is expected that they intend to get something passed before recess begins June 21, giving the Legislature just six session days to do so.
MPCA asks all persons who support extension of benefits to be ready to make calls to legislators next week. As soon as the language of the substitute bill is known, we will be putting out a "call to action." We will need everyone to make a call and send an email to their legislators.