In this e-newsletter:
- Upcoming Social Hour: Feb. 17
- Lead Leachate Legislation Introduced
- Health Policy Committee Meeting
- Medicaid Eligibility Coverage
- Affordable Housing and Daycare Groundbreaking
- Working Families Tax Credit Increase
- February is American Heart Month
Upcoming Social Hour: Feb. 17
Please join me for an informal, in-person discussion of legislative and community issues at my next social hour:
Friday, Feb. 17
Brewery Outré, 567 E. Ransom St. 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.
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 home.
Legislation Introduced to Protect Consumers From Lead Poisoning From Tableware
On Jan. 18, I introduced bipartisan legislation to regulate the levels of lead that leaches out of tableware products that we eat or drink from. Leaching is when a chemical substance, such as lead, moves from an object or surface to a liquid when it is exposed to that liquid. For example, lead from tableware could leach into drinks or food coming in contact with the dishes.
As a practicing physical therapist, I have firsthand knowledge of the dangers that leaching may cause. I was rehabilitating a patient with ongoing balance issues that were progressively getting worse despite our best attempts to rehabilitate. It was through a heavy metal blood test that we became aware that my patient was experiencing the side effects of lead exposure. House Bill 4030 would ensure that the amount of potential lead that can leach out of consumer products is significantly lower than current law and could prevent unforeseen heavy metal poisoning of people who purchase plates and cups they had no reason to believe were unsafe. Thirty-five of my colleagues in the House on both sides of the aisle joined me in co-sponsorship, and I hope to move this public health safety bill as soon as possible.
Health Policy Committee Meets for First Time in 2023
I am honored to be serving as the chair of the House Health Policy Committee for the 102nd legislative session. We had our first meeting on Feb. 2, where I shared my experience as a health care provider and reiterated my career-long advocacy for improved access to affordable health care. I have always provided treatment to my physical therapy patients utilizing evidence-based best practices, and I intend to approach public health policy and legislation in the same manner. Bills before my committee will be evaluated for evidence of efficacy and through a lens of equity for all our communities, including the disadvantaged and marginalized.
One of my top priorities for the committee is to address the issue of lead exposure and poisoning in our populations. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead, and we must consider all of the various vectors for lead exposure. Water is a significant source of lead, but aging homes with historic lead paint also present a serious challenge to preventing lead exposure.
I am also excited that we will be taking behavioral health, and specifically mental health, seriously in this new Legislature. Speaker Tate created a subcommittee within the House Health Policy Committee to focus on the unique challenges mental health, substance abuse and other behavioral health bring to individuals. I will be working very closely with the chair of the new Behavioral Health subcommittee, state Rep. Felicia Brabec, to address the deficits in our mental health care resources and find solutions to these problems.
If you would like to watch the video of the meeting and hear presentations from the Michigan Association for Local Public Health, the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, and the Michigan Primary Care Association, you can do so here.
Patients Could Lose Medicaid Coverage Beginning April 1
An important change is coming for Medicaid recipients, as the Medicaid Continuous Coverage rule is expiring and individuals will once again need to renew their eligibility to remain on Medicaid coverage. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Medicaid programs were required to keep enrollees continuously through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. At the end of 2022, the federal government passed a year-end budget bill that set March 31 as the expiration for this continuous coverage rule.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will begin sending renewal packages one to two months before they are due. It is absolutely critical that you keep an eye on your mailbox for those documents to ensure you do not lose coverage if you remain eligible. MDHHS explains what you need to do to be prepared for these changes here.
This change in federal rules has the potential to be disastrous for Michiganders, and I am committed to working with my colleagues to find solutions. I have had conversations with House leadership, the MDHHS, the Department of Insurance and Financial Services, and numerous stakeholders about ways we can minimize the effects on our vulnerable populations. This is my most urgent priority at this time, and I will not rest until we have found a way to keep as many Medicaid recipients as possible qualifying for benefits next year. Follow me on social media and keep reading our monthly e-news, as I will continue to update the community on new developments.
Affordable Housing and Daycare Project Groundbreaking
I was fortunate to have been present at the groundbreaking for Bogan Development’s new affordable housing and daycare construction project in Kalamazoo’s Northside neighborhood. The event was held on Feb. 3, and I was joined by Jamauri Bogan, who has been quite visionary in putting this project together.
This project, once completed, will serve area residents and provide vital access to child care options and homes for families in our community. This project is the result of cooperation and grants from the Kalamazoo County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, the Kalamazoo Brownfield Authority, Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Kalamazoo County Housing millage. I am excited about the positive effects this will have on the northside neighborhood and can’t wait to celebrate its grand opening!
Working Families Tax Credit Increase
This week, the Michigan House passed the Lowering MI Costs plan that would significantly increase the working families tax credit, known federally as the earned income tax credit (EITC), for Michigan’s low-income working families. The working families tax credit is designed to help families meet their basic needs by providing a percentage of the federal working families tax credit to be saved on the state of Michigan taxes.
I supported legislation to increase the working families tax credit from 6% of the federal credit to 30%. What does this mean for you? For working families that qualify for the federal EITC, this means you will see more money in your pocketbook in 2023. Under the old credit, the average family saw a roughly $150 increase in their wages. Now, that same family could expect $760 from the credit to put food on the table, pay for doctor’s appointments, keep families in their homes and ensure they have the fundamentals in place.
If this legislation passes in the Senate, our local community will see benefits as well. Our local economy stands to see another $6 million in spending from these families right here in our hometown. This change in the law will have dramatic effects on working families and will support our local businesses through increased spending on basic goods. I am proud that we have taken this step and will continue to find ways to empower working families and support our community.
February is American Health Month
On Feb. 8, I introduced House Resolution 29, and it was unanimously passed by the Michigan House of Representatives. The resolution declares February 2023 as American Heart Month in the state of Michigan. From 2019-20, deaths from heart disease increased by 4.8 percent, the largest increase in heart disease deaths since 2012. In 2021, heart disease was again the leading cause of death in Michigan with nearly 27,000 citizens losing their life. Women, especially Black and Hispanic women, are disproportionately impacted by heart disease and stroke, and research shows heart attacks are on the rise in younger women as well. Yet, Millennials and Gen Z are less aware of their greatest health threat, including knowing the warning signs of heart attacks and strokes.
As the chair of the Health Policy Committee, I encourage you to join me in learning the signs of heart attack and stroke and knowing your numbers — total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index. Be alert and aware of how you are feeling and call for help when you or someone else begins displaying any of those signs.