Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This Michigan weather just won’t stop, will it? I hope you were able to stay warm and safe through last week’s winter storm and that you’ve managed to stay dry during the rain. Through it all, we’ve continued to stay busy up in Lansing, and, as such, I’d like to borrow a few moments of your time to fill you in on some important pieces of legislation that were passed in the House last week.
Wednesday, Feb. 16
Preventing the Public Disclosure of Divorce Filings
Last Wednesday, we passed House Bill 4195 to prohibit the public disclosure of a divorce complaint until proof of service is filed by the court. The law as currently written can create a situation where a divorce filing is published and available to view online before a defendant is aware of the filing. Therefore, a defendant could find out from a friend or co-worker about the filing rather than from the complainant!
This bill ensures that a defendant is made aware of a divorce filing before it becomes public. I was glad to vote yes on this bill.
Amending Prior Authorization to Ensure Access to Life-Saving Drugs for Patients
I also voted yes on Senate Bill 412, a piece of legislation that would amend the Social Welfare Act to prohibit Medicaid health plans from subjecting certain drugs (those that treat HIV, epilepsy, cancer, mental health/substance abuse, etc.) to prior authorization. “Prior authorization” (“PA”) refers to any process that requires health care providers to obtain advance approval from a patient’s health insurer before a specific procedure, service, device, supply or medication will be covered for payment.
In recent years, physicians have voiced concerns about PAs, believing that they act as a roadblock to patients receiving necessary treatment. In some cases, especially in patients who suffer from life-threatening illness, PAs can have a detrimental impact on patient care overall. This bill improves Medicaid patient access to the important prescription drugs they need. I was glad to support this bill both in the Health Policy Committee and on the House floor.
Designating the Mackinac Bridge and others as a Key Facilities
I was also proud to help pass HB 5315, a bill to add several major Michigan bridges (including the Mackinac Bridge, the Ambassador Bridge, the Gordie Howe International Bridge, the MacArthur Bridge, the Rouge River Bridge, and the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, among others) to statute as critical infrastructure sites, thus triggering criminal penalties for those who trespass upon or enter them without authority or permission.
In recent years, there have been several incidents regarding individuals trespassing specifically on the Mackinac Bridge and posting about it on social media. Some of the issues include airplane pilots stunt flying under the bridge and other incidents, such as bomb threats. Under current law, policing authorities are limited in the options they have to hold offenders accountable, but this new legislation will change that.
As a state surrounded by water and an international border, there are millions of dollars of economic impact that rely on Michigan bridges every day, meaning any extended closure could have long-lasting fiscal impacts. By designating these important bridges as a “key facility” or “critical infrastructure,” it allows violators to face more than just a misdemeanor punishment for trespassing illegally. This bill protects not only our state’s economy, but our state’s civilian population as well, and I am proud to support it.
PBM Bill Package Signed into Law
Finally, I am thrilled to share that, last week, my bill to address pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) reimbursements for 340B entities passed the Senate, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed it into law this morning. This bill is one that I originally introduced alongside state Rep. Sue Allor in the spring of 2021.
My bill, HB 4351, prohibits a PBM from reimbursing federally designated 340B entities for pharmacy-dispensed drugs at a lower rate than that paid for the same drug to pharmacies that are not 340B entities. By stopping the discriminatory practice of a PBM reimbursing a 340B differently than a non-340B entity, the bill will help to preserve the intent of the 340B program, which is for covered entities to use the savings to provide health care services to our most vulnerable populations.
I could not be prouder to see this bill passing almost unanimously in both chambers and now being signed into law by the governor.
Other bills passed by the Michigan House of Representatives this week include: