Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! Included in this edition are some important legislative and community updates, along with a few resources I hope will prove helpful. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-0144 or email at AlabasFarhat@house.mi.gov with questions about any state-level issue.
Alabas A. Farhat
State Representative, 3rd House District
Thank you so much to those who joined me at our March Coffee Hour! Please, join me for my next Coffee Hour on April 17 at 5:30 p.m.! Keep an eye out for future details on the location.
House Bill 4316
The pharmacy community has played a vital role in expanding patient access to care and helping communities reopen and return to normal over the last two years, by giving vaccines and providing important testing services.
Under the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act), pharmacy providers across the country were approved to provide a broad array of immunizations and “test to treat” services during the public health emergency, utilizing the full pharmacy team (including pharmacy technicians) to provide critical access to affordable services in many underserved communities.
Pharmacies have effectively connected millions of patients — including those who do not otherwise have a primary care provider — to life-saving health-care services. Without continuing this practice, there will be critical gaps in care, resulting in patient confusion and frustration. This bill would seek to codify the practice of allowing pharmacists to provide immunizing agents to Michiganders.
House Bill 4295
Last week, several of my colleagues and I introduced legislation aimed at banning child marriage here in Michigan. The package as a whole would amend and update various sections of law to establish 18 as the minimum age of consent for marriage and prohibit judges from issuing a marriage certificate for individuals under the updated marriageable age.
Research has shown that child marriage has devastating health effects, social consequences and economic results for a minor. Too often, young women and girls are coerced into marrying their rapists or abusers as a way for the family to avoid neglect or assault charges, as well as the public stigma attached to rape, sexual abuse, or non-traditional pregnancy.
Michigan’s lackadaisical child marriage laws are rife for abuse, offering a cover-up for human traffickers and opening our state up to the risk of “tourist marriage” patterns. Between 2000 and 2021, more than 5,400 minors were married in the state of Michigan, according to state data compiled by the nonprofit Unchained at Last. Ninety-five percent of those marriages were girls married to adult men.
House Bill 4276
This bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services to enter into contracts only with Medicaid managed organizations that reimburse small pharmacies at the national average drug acquisition cost, plus a professional dispensing fee. This bill would also prevent pharmacy benefit managers from taking home any portion of this dispensing fee, ensuring that our local pharmacies do not endure additional costs.
House Bill 4235
This bill would allow a taxpayer to claim a credit against the tax imposed in an amount equal to the qualified union dues paid to a labor organization by the taxpayer during the tax year. In order to increase tax fairness, the State of Michigan should call for the tax deduction of union dues and make it available for all workers who support their unions. Employers, especially large corporations, have the upper hand at the negotiating table for multiple reasons, including their ability to fully write off or deduct management and legal costs, such as those involved in resisting unionization campaigns and negotiating with unions. Meanwhile, workers, who are represented by unions in these negotiations, cannot deduct the cost of the dues they pay in support of their union.
Repeal of “Right-To-Work”
Last week, I joined my colleagues in keeping our promise to repeal the anti-worker “right-to-work” laws by voting ‘YES’ on House Bills 4004 and 4005. As the home of the modern American labor movement, we know that unions built Michigan, put the world on wheels, and helped grow Michigan’s middle class. Working people are the backbone of our economy and fixing our labor laws to expand workers’ rights is something Michiganders wholeheartedly support, regardless of party affiliation.
Restoring Prevailing Wage
I am proud to have voted ‘YES’ on House Bill 4007, which restored prevailing wage in Michigan. Prevailing wage laws establish minimum wages for skilled construction workers employed on taxpayer projects and protect local construction standards in the competitive low-bid process. According to research by the Economic Policy Institute, there is no evidence that the 2018 repeal of prevailing wage reduced public construction costs or benefited taxpayers. The data shows that states without prevailing wage laws negatively affect construction workers, businesses and communities:
- Construction worker wage growth has been between 4% and 13% slower.
- Construction worker benefits growth is between 7% and 10% slower.
- Construction worker reliance on food stamps increases by 2%.
- The construction industry’s on-the-job fatality rate is 14% higher.
Reinstating prevailing wage in Michigan means safer and higher quality construction projects completed by highly skilled workers and sets a fair competitive bidding process for contractors.
Helping Medicaid Members Keep Their Coverage
Take action to avoid a gap in coverage.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government declared a Public Health Emergency, allowing Medicaid members to keep their health care coverage. Per recent federal legislation, eligibility renewals will start again in June. Monthly renewal notifications will be sent by mail beginning in May.
Get ready to renew now. Following these steps will help determine if you still qualify:
- Make sure your contact information is up to date.
- Check mail or text messages for a letter.
- Complete your renewal form (if you get one).
If you’re a Medicaid member, learn more about how these changes may affect your health care coverage at Michigan.gov/2023benefitchanges.