Lansing Update: May 24, 2013

  1. MCC and Catholic Health Care Leaders Testify in Support of Medicaid Reform
  2. Indigent Defense Legislation Passes House Committee
  3. Budget Targets Set, Conference Committees Named
  4. House Names Representative Rutledge New Minority Floor Leader
  5. “Medical Good Faith Provisions Act” Passes House with Unanimous Support

MCC and Catholic Health Care Leaders Testify in Support of Medicaid Reform

For the first time in its history, Michigan Catholic Conference testified jointly with advocates from Michigan’s Catholic health care institutions, speaking in the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee on Medicaid reform, House Bill 4714. Despite expressing a few concerns with the bill, MCC, Trinity Health, and Ascension Health-Michigan emphasized the importance of Medicaid expansion and reform.

“We are in strong support of reforming Medicaid in a way that is truly universal, does not deny care to those in need and respects the life and conscience of every person. For centuries, the Catholic Church has been an advocate for human dignity and has affirmed that principle as protection of life from conception to natural death as one of our most critical moral foundations. For decades, the Church has insisted that access to decent health care is a basic safeguard of human life and as such is a key component of that moral foundation. Regardless of one’s religious identity, an indication of the moral strength of a society is the protection afforded its most vulnerable citizens. Extending health care access to approximately 450,000 working poor adults is a rare chance to improve, through good public policy, the lives and health of vulnerable Michigan residents.”

To read the joint statement issued by MCC, Trinity Health, Ascension Health-Michigan, and OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group, click here.

Whether or not the state moves forward with Medicaid reform is still unanswered. While Governor Snyder and many others are supporting reform, the Senate Majority Leader said publicly this week that the Senate will move forward with 2013–2014 budgets without the Medicaid policy. In the House of Representatives, four committee meetings have been held related to HB 4714, with significant opposition to a provision that new Medicaid recipients would only have coverage for 48 months. That provision remains a significant concern for Michigan Catholic Conference and others. MCC will continue to monitor this issue as the policy debate takes place.

Indigent Defense Legislation Passes House Committee

After testifying in support of similar legislation in the Senate two weeks ago, Michigan Catholic Conference testified this week in favor of House Bills 4529–4530, saying indigent defense reform is needed to create a more just society “where all citizens have the right to legal counsel.” As Michigan’s system of providing indigent defense is broken in many areas of the state, it is important for the Legislature to ensure all Michigan citizens are afforded this constitutional right. Here is an excerpt from staff testimony:

“A qualified defense attorney will help judges and juries to make a fully informed determination of guilt or innocence. It is not right that someone receives a harsher than necessary sentence because of inadequate counsel. Even the guilty deserve justice in a just society.”

The bills passed favorably from the committee with ten members voting in support and one abstaining. HBs 4529–4530 will now be sent to the House floor for further consideration.

Budget Targets Set, Conference Committees Named

Following the Revenue Estimating Conference’s announcement last week that more revenue was available than previously projected ($482.6 million for the 2012–2013 Fiscal Year, $219.4 million for the 2013–2014 Fiscal Year), budget discussions have continued. This week, the governor and top lawmakers signed an agreement to set their targeted spending levels for all departments and major budget areas. The agreement directs $350 million of the extra revenue into roads, $140 million into K–12 schools, and $75 million into the Budget Stabilization Fund. Discussions on Medicaid expansion and road funding will continue going forward, but neither is currently expected to be included in the conference committee versions of the budget bills. Here is a breakdown of the General Fund spending totals in the target agreement for budgets MCC has been following; the number in parentheses represents the original recommendations of the governor:

Since neither the House nor Senate voted to adopt (concur in) the budgets passed by the other chamber, each of the budgets will now be turned over to conference committees. During these conference committees, three members of the Senate and three members of the House will meet to work out the differences between the two versions of the budgets in order to produce final spending plans. Below are department conference committee members as they have been announced:

Through this process, MCC will continue to watch for funding dedicated to Real Alternatives, a program that provides assistance for women in crisis pregnancy situations, as the level of funding differed in the Senate ($1 million) and House ($700,000) versions. MCC continues to advocate in support of Real Alternatives, both as a program to protect human life and also to respect the dignity of new mothers (and fathers).

House Names Representative Rutledge New Minority Floor Leader

On Wednesday the House Democrats elected State Representative David Rutledge (D-Ypsilanti) as their new House Minority Floor Leader after current Minority Floor Leader Rudy Hobbs (D-Southfield) announced he would leave his post to run for Congress. Other members who were considered included Representatives Sarah Roberts (D-St.Clair Shores), Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), Pam Faris (D-Clio), and David Knezek (Dearborn Heights). To learn more about House leadership from both political parties, click here.

“Medical Good Faith Provisions Act” Passes House with Unanimous Support

In the last Lansing Update, MCC mentioned its support for Senate Bill 165, a bill aimed at providing patients and prospective patients with transparency regarding any policies involving life-sustaining or nonbeneficial treatment at health facilities. After last week’s passage of the bill from the Health Policy Committee, the full House has voted unanimously to support the legislation. Once the House's changes are agreed to in the Senate, the “Medical Good Faith Provisions Act” will be sent to the governor for his signature.