In this e-newsletter:
Upcoming IN-PERSON Coffee Hour – April 29
My coffee hour for the month of April will be on Friday, April 29, from 4-5 p.m. This will be an IN-PERSON coffee hour at the newest Walnut & Park Cafe (543 E. Ransom St. in Kalamazoo). I will be providing a legislative update and offering an opportunity for residents of the 60th House District to share their thoughts and perspectives.
While advanced registration is not required, individuals who would like to RSVP or submit questions in advance may do so by sending an email to JulieRogers@house.mi.gov.
We will be following all CDC guidelines related to COVID-19. If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, we ask that you please stay at home.
House Bill 5656 Reported from Committee
On April 12, my bill, House Bill 5656, was reported from the House Committee on Commerce and Tourism with bipartisan support. This bill extends the successful initiative that directs existing revitalization dollars to bring grocery stores to downtowns and commercial corridors in urban areas.
This is a crucial step toward ensuring that this successful program continues in Michigan. This initiative has already yielded results in Lansing, Flint and Port Huron, and we want to ensure that all of Michigan’s communities have access to grocery stores and healthy foods. I appreciate the support of my colleagues on the committee, and I am looking forward to advancing this legislation further.
Educational Assessment Grace Package of Bills Introduced
Michigan students are returning from spring breaks and starting the standardized testing process for M-STEP and Michigan Merit Exams, following another tumultuous school year punctuated by surges of COVID-19 delta and omicron variants. School districts are implementing COVID-19 rescue dollars to address academic supports, emotional support services, and facilities that have been identified by respective communities. Educational professional staffing shortages have presented additional challenges for schools and instruction.
This is why I was proud to join a bipartisan coalition of legislators to create a package of education bills targeted at providing students, staff and schools grace in light of the constantly fluctuating COVID-19 conditions. Data gathered from standardized testing helps to guide data-driven decision-making by school districts and educational bodies for the purpose of improving outcomes. Leaders in educational organizations agree that closing the gap from instructional delays due to COVID-19 disruptions may take years to attain reasonable expectations for on grade-level achievement. The pandemic hasn’t even been resolved, yet punitive consequences are still in place. These bills would prevent students, educators, administrators and schools from being penalized due to standardized testing scores administered during COVID-19.
As the sister of an educator, I know just how challenging the COVID-19 pandemic has been on our teachers, students, administrators and schools. To say this situation has been disruptive is an understatement. We should not be penalizing those who have been on the front lines helping our children navigate these unprecedented circumstances. I am proud to sponsor this legislation and will continue to advocate for it to advance.
The legislation has been referred to the House Education Committee and is awaiting a hearing. The package includes House Bills 5991-5995:
April Recognized as County Government Month
I was proud to introduce House Resolution 264 to declare April 2022 as County Government Month in the state of Michigan. The House adopted the resolution with unanimous support on April 12.
As a former county commissioner, I know firsthand that county governments play a vital role in the delivery of key public services in our state. Counties provide a variety of services, such as parks and recreation programs, services for seniors, medical care facilities, courts and court services, elections, and infrastructure. As a health care provider, I also appreciate the key role they play in public health by promoting equitable and accessible health for all residents.
The theme for this year’s County Government Month is “Counties Thrive” and focuses on the critical role counties play in public life. Many local counties and county commissioners will be uplifting this theme and raising awareness of the countless efforts and contributions of county boards of commissioners throughout Michigan.
Continuing the Fight to Fix What Auto No-Fault Law Broke
I recently championed a new package of bills with my colleagues to address concerns related to transparency and accountability in Michigan’s auto no-fault law.
Last year, while the new auto no-fault law was being championed by some as a great cost-saving measure for consumers, my experience as a practicing physical therapist allowed me to see the harsh reality that was to come. Since then, people have lost their health care, and some have even died. A number of bills have already been introduced this term that could have saved lives and helped people continue getting the care they need. I am once again calling on my colleagues to help the growing number of catastrophic injury car accident survivors who have lost access to long-term health care because of this law.
Since the law went into effect on July 1, 2021, auto accident survivors have entered a care crisis. More than 1,500 people have lost the care they were promised when they paid their insurance bills, more than 3,000 care workers have been laid off, and nearly 100 businesses that once provided care for auto crash survivors have had to close or stop serving those clients, according to a December report by MPHI. This has left some of the most vulnerable with no place to go and no way to afford essential care.
Descriptions of the bills in this package can be found below.
House Bill 5996 would address the issue of prohibiting insurers from denying payment if the treatment is “not usually associated” with accepted treatment. Sponsored by Rep. Rogers.
House Bill 5997 would place penalties on insurance companies that unreasonably deny claims. “Bad Faith Denial.” Sponsored by state Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor).
House Bill 5998 would fix the loophole where some court rulings have basically exempted all regulated and licensed businesses (like insurance companies) from Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act. Sponsored by Rabhi.
House Bill 5999 would require the Department of Insurance and Financial Services to post their reports on auto no-fault complaints, billing issues, and utilization review publicly on its website. The reports will include the number of cases per patient. Sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Coleman (D-Westland).
House Bill 6000 would require auto insurers to get their rates approved by DIFS, with an 8% profit margin cap. Sponsored by state Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids).
House Bill 6001 would require that when the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) is statutorily mandated to issue refund payments to consumers, those payments must be issued within 30 days. Sponsored by state Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi).
House Bill 6002 would prohibit insurance companies or the third-party companies that are associated with the insurance company from reviewing administrative appeals. Sponsored by state Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy).
House Bill 6003 would prohibit insurers from refusing to pay provider bills on the basis that the bill is not in the insurer’s preferred format or on the insurer’s preferred form. Sponsored by state Rep. Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park).
House Bill 6004 would require the MCCA to disclose actuarial computation used in rate setting. Sponsored by state Rep. Mary Cavanagh (D-Redford).
House Bill 6005 would prohibit rate discrimination on the basis of any category protected under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (marital status, weight, sex, etc.), credit scores or other financial stress measures, and geographical location within Michigan AND require that insurance companies that have affiliate networks or the same parent company offer consumers a quote that is the lowest they would get within the company or network. Sponsored by state Rep. Jewell Jones (D-Inkster)