In this e-newsletter:
- Upcoming Coffee Hour: Nov. 17
- Michigan Affordable Care Act Signed by Governor
- Crime Victims’ Rights Bills Signed into Law
- Budget Supplemental Projects for the 41st House District
- R&D Tax Credits Pass the House
- Maternal and Infant Health Package Voted out of Committee
- Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment: Nov. 1 through Jan. 15
- Veterans’ Day Events
Upcoming Coffee Hour: Nov. 17
Please join me for an informal, in-person discussion of legislative and community issues at my next coffee hour:
Friday, Nov. 17
9-10 a.m. (please note the time)
Milestone Senior Services located at 918 Jasper St. in Kalamazoo
While advanced registration is not required, anyone who would like to RSVP or submit questions in advance may do so by emailing JulieRogers@house.mi.gov.
Michigan ACA Bills Signed by Governor
On Oct. 19, Gov. Whitmer signed the Michigan Affordable Care Act Bills, House Bills 4619-4623 and Senate Bills 356-358, into law, ensuring important health care related consumer protections are protected in Michigan.
Federal court cases in recent years have posed a threat to these vital protections; specifically, the required coverage for preventive services is under threat by a decision in the case Braidwood Management v. Becerra. 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 their parents’ health insurance and ensuring coverage for critical preventive care services.
My bill in the package, HB 4619, would 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.
I am delighted that after many months of work, Michigander’s healthcare and the health insurance they have relied on will remain intact regardless of what happens in federal court.
Crime Victims’ Rights Bills Signed into Law
I was thrilled to join the governor on Nov. 6 as she signed a series of four bills known as the Michigan Crime Victims’ Rights Package. These bills amend the Crime Victim’s Rights Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure to provide victims of crimes additional protections and resources. This bipartisan bill package protects victims from intimidation when testifying in court, allows professionals who deal with domestic survivors to offer assistance to individuals in domestic violence situations and ensures more victims are eligible for services under the William Van Regenmorter Crime Victims’ Rights Act. The four bills in the package include:
- HB 4420 (Rep. Rogers)
- A bill to provide an explicit provision in Michigan statute that makes it clear to law enforcement and prosecutors that they are permitted and encouraged to engage and initiate survivor-focused outreach with survivor service agencies.
- HB 4421 (Rep. Young)
- Allow a victim’s face to be blurred in recordings of court proceedings that are uploaded to the internet for public viewing.
- HB 4422 (Rep. Filler)
- Updates the definition of serious misdemeanor to include additional crimes for the purpose of allowing victims to access resources for which they are not currently eligible.
- HB 4423 (Rep. VanWoerkom)
- Allow remote victim impact statements.
Budget Supplemental Projects for the 41st House District
Included in the supplemental budget sent to the governor for her signature on Nov. 2, are two important projects for our community. In addition to the $20 million state Sen. McCann and I secured for the U.S. 131 interchange construction project, the supplemental spending included in House Bill 4292 has an additional $3.9 million for the project to cover additional costs for construction that have been identified since planning was completed.
In addition, Kalamazoo Valley Community College will receive $19 million for renovations to the Automotive Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Wing for preparing our students to work in skilled trades in the automotive, manufacturing, welding, electrical and HVAC industries.
These investments in our community will provide transformational change for our transportation infrastructure, improve the quality of life for residents and give individuals more opportunities for training in high demand skilled trades professions.
R&D Tax Credits Pass the House
The recently introduced legislation to create a tax credit to support research and development (R&D) investment in Michigan passed the House on Oct. 31 with bipartisan support. House Bills 5099-5102 and 4368, a bipartisan package of bills, are currently on the Senate floor awaiting action.
More than 35 other states have these credits and Michigan risks losing out on the economic benefits of investment in emerging technologies without this economic development tool. My focus in this legislation has been on ensuring that businesses with fewer than 250 employees who drive innovation by conducting R&D into promising products and processes are not only included, but that a portion of the available funds are dedicated to those businesses.
Small businesses conducting innovative research need long-term stability for planning multi-year investments. In Kalamazoo, we have an example of this kind of business, Genemarkers, which conducts research into pharmaceutical industries and genomics. This package is forward-thinking and designed to provide the support necessary for long-term investments in the rewarding but often cost-prohibitive research into new science, engineering and manufacturing projects. My bill, HB 5101, provides for eligible employers to gain access to the program. Included are additional incentives for small businesses with 250 employees or less to grow them from small to large for further investment in our state.
Maternal and Infant Health Package Voted out of Committee
In the House Health Policy Committee, we heard testimony on a 10-bill package that takes the initial steps to address disparities in health outcomes for pregnant and post-birth individuals and their infants. Severe maternal morbidity, which includes unexpected outcomes of delivery which have significant short- or long-term impacts on a woman’s health, have been rising.
Unfortunately, they have been rising much faster and have been far more prevalent in certain communities. Non-Hispanic Black individuals have significantly higher rates of severe maternal morbidity and from 2015-2019 were 2.8 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes in Michigan. Black non-Hispanic infants die three times more often than white non-Hispanic infants. These bills will help address this glaring disparity in health outcomes while making pregnancy and the post-partum period safer for everyone.
The 10 bills are:
- HB 5027 (Pohutsky): Requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to develop guidelines for prenatal carrier screening for autosomal recessive and x-linked genetic conditions.
- HB 4728 (Rogers): Eliminates expensive and redundant testing of breast milk donors to breast milk banks.
- HB 5166 (Young): Place in law provisions protecting the existing Michigan Perinatal Quality Collaborative that facilitates communication, collaboration and practice improvement in maternal and infant health care statewide.
- HB 5167 (Neeley): Require Medicaid coverage for blood pressure monitors for pregnant and postpartum individuals.
- HB 5168 (Edwards): Require health insurance coverage for blood pressure monitors for pregnant and postpartum individuals.
- HB 5169 (Hood): Require mental health screenings for new mothers at appropriate well child visits.
- HB 5170 (B. Carter): Require health insurance coverage for the screenings in HB 5169.
- HB 5171 (Grant): Require Medicaid coverage for the screenings in HB 5169.
- HB 5172 (Glanville): Establish levels of maternal care for hospitals in Michigan and have MDHHS publish those qualifications so that patients in Michigan can plan which hospital to use in order to meet their medical needs,
- HB 5173 (Hope): Require hospitals to provide information to a parent or guardian on signing up a newborn for health insurance.
These bills were reported out of the House Health Policy Committee and are awaiting action on the House floor.
Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment: Nov. 1 Through Jan. 15
Time is running out to enroll in a health plan during the Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period, which ends on Jan. 15, 2024.
High-quality health insurance leads to a healthier Michigan, and all Michiganders can evaluate their options at HealthCare.gov before the January 15 enrollment deadline.
If you’re worried that you won’t be able to afford the health insurance you need or that it’s too difficult to enroll, help is available! Newly expanded subsidies can help most Michiganders find a health plan for less than $10 a month and there is more free, local enrollment help available. Find out more at LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.
If you need health coverage in 2024, act now! You must enroll by Dec. 15 to have coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2024. If you sign up between Dec. 15, 2023 and Jan. 15, 2024, your coverage will begin on February 1, 2024.
Resources are available at Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance or by calling the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services’ call center at (877) 999-6442, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Veterans Day Events
Veterans Day is nearly here, and with it comes the opportunity to thank everyone who has served in the armed forces. Our veterans deserve recognition and our heartfelt thanks for their service and the sacrifices they have made safeguarding our freedoms.
In honor of Veterans Day, a number of community events are being held. I hope you will join me in honoring our men and women of the armed forces!
Events on Nov. 10:
The Western Michigan University Merze Tate College and the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs will be hosting a Solidarity Ruck March beginning at 9 a.m. in front of Ellsworth Hall. To register please visit the WMU Veterans Week RSVP Site.
A Veterans Day Breakfast will be held at the Air Zoo, located at 6151 Portage Road, beginning at 8 a.m. You must register ahead of time by calling the Zhang Portage Senior Center at (269) 329-4555 to attend.
Kalamazoo Valley Community College will be hosting a Veterans Day Roundtable Discussion with student veterans from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Campus Room 4370 on the Texas Township Campus.
Event on Nov. 11:
Please join me in attending the annual Kalamazoo County Veterans’ Day Ceremony, which will be held at 2 p.m. at the Robert L. Cook Veterans Memorial Plaza in Rose Park.