Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! Read on for legislative updates and things to do this month, along with other community information.
Meet & Greet
Please join me for an opportunity to come sit down, have a chat, ask me questions and share how I can best represent you in Lansing. I will be hosting sessions on Friday, Dec. 20, from 3 – 4 p.m. at the Clio Area Schools Administration building in the board room and Monday, Jan. 13, from 11 a.m. – noon at the Montrose Senior Center, 200 Alfred St. in Montrose. Hope to see you there!
Veterans Bill Package
I recently introduced legislation as part of the Supporting MI Veterans legislative package. This package aims to increase support for Michigan’s brave men and women in uniform when they return home. My bill would allow the free use of all state parks by veterans with a veteran ID. Michigan’s veterans embody the enduring spirit of service that we should all aspire to follow in our own lives. Michigan is home to the 11th largest veteran population in the nation, with over 550,000 veterans accounting for over 7 percent of the state’s adult population. The Supporting MI Veterans package is comprised of over 20 bills from more than 20 different sponsors to provide comprehensive support from waiving teaching license and medical record fees, providing property tax credits and free public transportation, to creating a special hotline for reporting instances of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
Medicaid Work Requirements
In 2018, the Legislature voted to implement work requirements for Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries upon approval from the federal government, which occurred in December. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, certain beneficiaries will be required to report to MDHHS each month 80 hours of work or other eligible activities, such as job training. If they do not report, they could lose their health care coverage.
MDHHS began sending notification letters in September to more than 270,000 Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries who currently are not exempt from the work requirements based on department records. To retain coverage, these individuals must comply with the new requirements beginning in January.
In addition to the September notification letters, MDHHS has put in place a communication plan to get the word out about the upcoming work requirements. The department has hosted webinars for community partners and providers and will build upon these efforts throughout the fall with paid advertising, media outreach, social media posts and additional outreach to community partners and stakeholders who work with people who may be affected.
In October, notifications were also sent out to Healthy Michigan Plan beneficiaries who are exempt from the work requirements, including people who will be age 62 and older.
If you have any questions about how Medicaid work requirements might affect you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office. Additional information about the Healthy Michigan Plan can be found at HealthyMichiganPlan.org. For more information about the work requirements and other changes, click on the on the Changes Coming in 2020 tab.
Energy Assistance and Shut-off Protection
With winter quickly approaching, some Michigan residents may struggle to pay their energy bills and keep their homes warm. Did you know that Michigan law provides utility shut-off protection, and in some cases payment assistance, for qualifying customers? The Michigan Public Service Commission has information available for residents in need of home heating help and any customer struggling with their energy bills should contact 2-1-1 (via either www.mi211.org or by dialing 2-1-1) for assistance in finding programs for which they may qualify and determining assistance eligibility. Military customers, senior citizens, those facing a medical emergency, and customers for whom a shut-off of power would be immediately life-threatening may be eligible for shut-off protection. Follow the links above or contact your utility provider for additional information.
Consumers Energy has made a promise to care for the Michigan communities that they serve and that includes providing assistance to those who need it most. CARE, Consumers Affordable Resource for Energy, is a program that lets customers manage and afford their energy bills. Enrollment is available to their customers based on income Enrollment for CARE began on Oct. 1, 2019 and is currently open. For further information please visit their website by clicking here.
MDHHS Offers Student Loan Repayment to Medical Professionals Who Treat Opioid Use Disorder
As part of its multifaceted plan to address the opioid epidemic, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is making medical providers eligible for student loan repayment if they offer medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.
The goal of the program is to increase availability of high-quality treatment across the state, especially in areas where treatment is difficult to access. Medical professionals working in a broad range of settings will be eligible for $15,000 to $30,000 in loan repayment if they begin providing medication-assisted treatment or expand the number of patients they currently see. Providers can also receive a $5,000 bonus if they operate in a county that has no medication-assisted treatment providers.
Michigan will use federal State Targeted Response for Opioid Crisis dollars from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to repay the medical education loans. This is the second time that MDHHS has accepted applications for the program. Sixty-five providers had their student loans partially repaid after they applied in the first round earlier this year through a partnership with the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.
The program is available to medical doctors and osteopathic medicine doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and substance use disorder counselors who have the training needed to offer buprenorphine under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000. To be eligible, providers must begin offering opioid treatment, increase the number of patients they currently see, or increase the number of patients they are permitted to see. Providers who work in a variety of settings are eligible to apply, including primary care, family medicine, Opioid Treatment Programs, emergency medicine, hospital-based settings, jails and prisons.
Applications can be filed through Nov. 30. MDHHS will prioritize applications based on the number of patients to be served and the need for additional treatment capacity in the county.
Applications and additional information can be found at www.michigan.gov/miota, the webpage for the Michigan Opioid Treatment Access Loan Repayment Program. Health care providers are encouraged to review the materials and submit applications when the cycle begins. They can contact Megan Linton at (517) 335-6713 for more information
Michigan has been significantly affected by the national opioid epidemic. The number of annual opioid-related overdose deaths in the state has more than tripled since 2011, from 622 to 2,053. As part of the state-government-wide plan to address the issue, MDHHS has developed an action plan that is focused on prevention, early intervention and treatment.
Find more information at www.michigan.gov/opioids.
I hope you found this information useful. Please feel free to contact my office if we can be of any assistance.
State Rep. Sheryl Y. Kennedy, Ph.D.
48th House District