In this e-newsletter:
- Upcoming Coffee Hour: July 21
- Auto No-Fault Reforms Urgently Needed
- Environmental Protection and the Morrow Dam
- Governor Signs Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Bills
- Affordable Care Act Bills Pass Respective Chambers
- Medicaid Redeterminations Continue
- Save the Date: Behavioral Health Town Hall
Upcoming Coffee Hour: July 21
Please join me for an outdoor, informal, in-person discussion of legislative and community issues at my next coffee hour.
Friday, July 21
Noon to 1 p.m. (please note the time)
Milham Park, 607 E. Kilgore Road in Kalamazoo
While advance registration is not required, anyone who would like to RSVP or submit questions in advance may do so by emailing JulieRogers@house.mi.gov.
Auto No-Fault Reforms Urgently Needed
Michigan’s new auto no-fault law enacted in 2019 has had disastrous results for auto crash survivors. Nearly 7,000 patients have been discharged from care. Since the draconian cuts to reimbursement for health care providers for necessary services, more than 30 businesses have closed, as they can no longer afford to operate. This has become a health care crisis for survivors of automobile crashes and their families.
Patients who have lost care will have a worse quality of life at a higher cost to the system. Many of the most significantly injured may find themselves in and out of hospitals even though they are no longer requiring acute services. Hospital treatment results in a much higher cost than had they been able to maintain their previous coverage at home. When patients exhaust their financial resources and can no longer afford care under their current insurance plans, they will inevitably end up on Medicaid, which is supported through taxes paid by Michigan residents.
Since January, I have been working with patient groups, health care providers, hospitals and many others to develop legislation to fix specific problems with the 2019 legislation.
Currently, insurance companies follow a “utilization review” process to determine what medical care they will cover for each patient injured in an automobile car crash. This utilization review process gives companies the power to hire their own medical “experts” to determine what is appropriate care without following medical guidelines or considering the individual’s specific situation.
To address this issue, I introduced House Bill 4884 on June 28 with 56 bipartisan co-sponsors to require that generally accepted standards should be the basis for determining if a treatment for an individual injured in a crash is appropriate. These standards are guidelines relied on by medical professionals including evidence-based guidelines and those developed by experts in their respective fields. It also establishes a fair process for appealing decisions of utilization review boards and brings transparency to their decision-making process. The bill was referred to the House Insurance and Financial Services Committee, and I will be advocating for a committee hearing as soon as possible.
Environmental Protection and the Morrow Dam
I joined state Sen. Sean McCann in reintroducing bills in the House and Senate to ensure that dam operators are held responsible for any man-made ecological emergency they create. My bill, HB 4832, and Sen. McCann’s bill, SB 398, would give the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) the power to issue emergency orders to direct owners of structures on lakes and rivers to clean up environmental messes they make.
As you may recall, almost four years ago, STS Hydropower, a Canadian-owned operator of the Morrow Dam on the Kalamazoo River, lowered water levels around its dam to make repairs deemed necessary by federal regulators. Before beginning work, the company failed to share its plans and collaborate with EGLE, resulting in 400,000 cubic yards of accumulated sediment being released downstream into the Kalamazoo River. This sediment remains and is causing ongoing damage to the river’s ecosystem of fish, wildlife and vegetation.
Dam owners and operators should not be able to choose when or if they need to take responsibility for a human-created natural disaster of their own making. These bills will ensure EGLE has the tools and authority to ensure responsible parties clean up after themselves.
Governor Signs Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Bills
In February, I coordinated the re-introduction of House Bills 4120-25, a bipartisan package of bills that were developed over hundreds of hours of discussions and consultation with survivors, experts, community organizations and advocacy groups arising from the MSU-Larry Nassar scandal. I am proud to announce that these bills passed the House and Senate, and the governor signed them into law on June 29. These new laws will protect Michiganders from abuse at the hands of authority figures in our schools, athletic programs and medical settings.
- HB 4120 (Rep. Rogers) would require that comprehensive training materials be provided to individuals who are mandated to report child abuse and neglect unless their employer already provides substantially similar training.
- For more information on the other bills in the package, you can click the links below: HB 4121, HB 4122, HB 4123, HB 4124, HB 4125
Affordable Care Act Bills Pass Respective Chambers
After months of working with stakeholders, bills in the House and Senate that would codify the most popular and important consumer protection provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into Michigan law were passed by the House and Senate. The five bills originating in the House were voted out to the Senate, and the three bills introduced in the Senate have been sent to the House. This legislation is vital as federal court cases in recent years have posed a threat to these important protections.
One recent case in particular, Braidwood Management v. Becerra, threatens to eliminate required coverage for preventive services. Michiganders have come to rely on the protections afforded under the ACA including prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage of individuals with preexisting conditions, guaranteeing that dependents up to age 26 can remain on your health insurance, and ensuring coverage for critical preventive care services.
The bills are:
- HB 4619 (Rep. Rogers) Prohibit discrimination in offering health insurance based on gender, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation and prohibit charging a different rate based on race, color, creed, marital status, sex, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, resident, location of risk, disability, or lawful occupation of risk.
- HB 4620 (Rep. Kimberly Edwards) Prohibit denial of insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions.
- HB 4621 (Rep. John Fitzgerald) Require insurance coverage of dependents up to age 26.
- HB 4622 (Rep. Reggie Miller) Prohibit lifetime and annual limits on benefits.
- HB 4623 (Rep. Matt Koleszar) Require coverage of recommended preventive services as approved by the director of DIFS after consideration by the United State Preventive Services Task Force.
I expect these bills to be high on the legislative agenda in the fall. It is my hope that we will see all of these bills on the governor’s desk awaiting her signature well before the end of 2023.
Medicaid Redeterminations Continue
Over 100,000 Michigan residents who are Medicaid recipients could lose their health coverage after July 31 if they do not fill out paperwork for Medicaid eligibility with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
To ensure you do not lose coverage, here are the steps that Medicaid beneficiaries should take, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS):
- Make sure your address, phone number and email address are up to date at Michigan.gov/MIBridges. You can also call your local MDHHS office. If you do not have an online account for MI Bridges to access your Medicaid case or report changes, visit Michigan.gov/MIBridges to sign up for an account. You can also locate organizations that can help you by searching for community partners.
- Report any changes to your household or income. You can report changes at Michigan.gov/MIBridges or by calling your local MDHHS office.
- If you get a renewal packet, be sure to fill it out, sign the forms and return it by the due date with any proof needed. NOTE: If you do not complete and return the renewal, you may lose Medicaid coverage.
Some Medicaid participants may be told they no longer qualify for Medicaid or the Healthy Michigan Plan. Those Michiganders will receive additional information about other health insurance options, including purchasing a plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace, where affected Michiganders will be able to shop for and enroll in comprehensive health insurance. Thanks to federal subsidies, many Michiganders will be able to purchase a plan for less than $10 per month.
For questions about purchasing a health plan on HealthCare.gov, visit Michigan.gov/StayCovered or call the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services at (877) 999-6442, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Save the Date: Behavioral Health Town Hall
Please plan on attending my upcoming Behavioral Health Town Hall to be held on Wednesday, Aug. 2, beginning at 5:30 p.m. with time to visit vendors and talk to behavioral health providers in our community for half an hour. We will then feature a panel discussion from 6-7 p.m. with experts from health care, law enforcement and substance use disorder on the challenges and opportunities for addressing behavioral health needs in our community. We will also have a brief question-and-answer segment, so that you can get answers to your inquiries.
This is an important topic that, as many area residents have told me, is often overlooked. I hope you will join me in bringing attention to meeting our mental and behavioral health needs.
Additionally, we are fortunate in Kalamazoo to have a new Behavioral Health Urgent Care and Access Center that just opened. Located at 440 W. Kalamazoo Ave., it offers same-day access and urgent care treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. The center is currently open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Friday, July 21, increasing to 24 hours a day, seven days a week on Monday, July 24. The site will be Kalamazoo County’s first behavioral health urgent care and access center and is one of only a very few across the state of Michigan.