In This Week’s Lansing Update:
- MCC Joins With Catholic Health Providers to Issue Guiding Principles for Medicaid Reform
- “Medical Good Faith Provisions Act” Passes House Committee
- Senate Passes Low-Income Energy Assistance Bill
- Consensus Estimating Conference Shows Higher than Projected Revenues
As the State Legislature continues to debate proposals concerning the reform and expansion of Medicaid in the state, Michigan Catholic Conference this week released a joint statement with the largest network of health care providers in Michigan—Trinity Health, Ascension Health-Michigan, and OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group—outlining principles for Medicaid reform. According to the Catholic health care statement:
“As leaders of our respective institutions, individually guided by the directive to uphold and protect the sanctity and dignity of human life, we believe reforming Medicaid—in a manner that is acceptable—follows a moral track that will lead to sound public policy and an increased standard of living in our state. Reforming the “path to access” for those who are currently excluded from health care is a noble endeavor by which future generations of Michigan workers, families and children stand to benefit.”
House Bill 4714, which was debated twice this week in the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee, would authorize the state to accept federal dollars to expand the state’s Medicaid population out to those making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. The bill includes policies that would make passage of Medicaid reform difficult, including limiting health care coverage to 48 months. The federal government would have to provide the state with a waiver for this provision to move forward, which is considered unlikely. The committee is expected to take further testimony next week.
The House Health Policy Committee this week adopted Senate Bill 165, the "Medical Good Faith Provisions Act," to provide patients and prospective patients within health care facilities with transparency. The bill, sponsored by Senator Jim Marleau (R-Lake Orion), would require that if a health facility has a policy involving life-sustaining or nonbeneficial treatment, then this policy must be disclosed in writing, upon request.
SB 165 was introduced at the request of a family whose daughter has Trisomy-18, a rare chromosomal disorder, as they found some hospitals were unwilling to treat their daughter's disorder, deeming care for her to be “futile.” At times, they would only find out about a facility's policy after having been admitted to the hospital, making transfer difficult. Had this been disclosed earlier, the family could have been able to choose another facility, one which likely would provide the necessary treatment for their daughter. The bill unanimously passed the committee and awaits consideration from the full House. Michigan Catholic Conference staff supports the passage of this legislation.
Earlier this week, the State Senate passed Senate Bill 284 to create a fund for low-income energy assistance. As mentioned in earlier updates, this bill allows for the Michigan Public Service Commission to issue an annual collective surcharge of up to $60 million for the fund, which will be supplemented with funds appropriated by the Legislature during the budget process. The bill has been sent over to the House Committee on Energy and Technology for consideration, where the Michigan Catholic Conference will continue to support its passage.
On Wednesday, the House Fiscal Agency, Senate Fiscal Agency, and the Department of Treasury came together for the Revenue Estimating Conference and reached a consensus on the status of revenues for the current 2012–2013 Fiscal Year. The analysts disclosed the state has approximately $396.9 million in additional funds for the General Fund and $85.7 million for the School Aid Fund ($482.6 million total). Additionally, revenues for the 2013–2014 Fiscal Year have also been revised to $181.8 million higher for the General Fund and $37.6 million for the School Aid Fund ($219.4 million higher than the projected amount of revenue). From these numbers, the Legislature will make adjustments to their proposed budgets. Michigan Catholic Conference will continue to monitor these revisions, especially in relation to their impact on the Department of Human Services budget, the Department of Community Health budget, and education funding.