Welcome to my latest e-newsletter! Included in this edition are some important legislative and community updates, along with a few resources I hope will prove helpful. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office by phone at (517) 373-0144 or email at AlabasFarhat@house.mi.gov or questions about this or any other state-level issue.
Alabas A. Farhat
State Representative, 3rd House District
Thank you so much to those who joined me at our March Coffee Hour! Please join me for my next Coffee Hour on April 17 at the Biggby Coffee on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn at 5:30 p.m.
House Bill 4316
The pharmacy community has played a vital role in expanding patient access to care and helping communities reopen and return to normal over the last two years by getting shots in arms and providing important testing services. This bill would seek to standardize the practice of allowing pharmacists to provide immunizing agents to Michiganders.
Under the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act), pharmacy providers across the country were approved to provide a broad array of immunizations and “test to treat” services during the public health emergency, utilizing the full pharmacy team (including pharmacy technicians) to provide critical access to affordable services in many underserved communities.
Pharmacies have effectively connected millions of patients — including those who do not otherwise have a primary care provider — to important health-care services. Without continuing this practice, there will be critical gaps in care, resulting in patient confusion and frustration.
House Bill 4295
Last week, several of my colleagues and I introduced legislation aimed at banning child marriage here in Michigan. The package as a whole would amend and update various sections of law to establish 18 as the minimum age of consent for marriage and prohibit judges from issuing a marriage certificate for individuals younger than age 18.
Research has shown that child marriage has devastating health effects, social consequences and economic results for a minor. Too often, young women and girls are coerced into marrying their rapists or abusers as a way for the family to avoid neglect or assault charges, as well as the public stigma attached to rape, sexual abuse or a nontraditional pregnancy.
Michigan’s lax child marriage laws are rife for abuse, offering a cover-up for human traffickers and opening our state up to the risk of “tourist marriage” patterns. Between 2000 and 2021, more than 5,400 minors were married in the state of Michigan, according to state data compiled by the nonprofit Unchained at Last. Ninety-five percent of those marriages were girls married to adult men.
House Bill 4276
This bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services to enter into contracts only with Medicaid-managed organizations that reimburse small pharmacies at the national average drug acquisition cost, plus a professional dispensing fee. This bill would also prevent pharmacy benefit managers from taking home any portion of this dispensing fee, ensuring that our local pharmacies do not endure additional costs.
House Bill 4235
This bill would allow a taxpayer to claim a credit against the tax imposed in an amount equal to the qualified union dues paid to a labor organization by the taxpayer during the tax year. In order to increase tax fairness, the State of Michigan should call for the tax deduction of union dues and make it available for all workers who support their unions. Employers, especially large corporations, have the upper hand at the negotiating table for multiple reasons, including their ability to fully write off, or deduct, management and legal costs, such as those involved in resisting unionization campaigns and negotiating with unions. Meanwhile, workers, who are represented by unions in these negotiations, cannot deduct the cost of the dues they pay in support of their union.
Helping Medicaid Members Keep Their Coverage
Take action to avoid a gap in coverage.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government declared a Public Health Emergency, allowing Medicaid members to keep their health care coverage. Per recent federal legislation, eligibility renewals will start again in June. Monthly renewal notifications will be sent by mail beginning in May.
Get ready to renew now. Following these steps will help determine if you still qualify:
- Make sure your contact information is up to date.
- Check mail or text messages for a letter.
- Complete your renewal form (if you get one).
If you’re a Medicaid member, learn more about how these changes may affect your health care coverage at Michigan.gov.
Mortgage Guidance for Michiganders
Michigan’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) is offering guidance to those thinking about taking on a home mortgage. There are many different types of mortgage loans, each of which have risks and benefits depending on an individual’s financial situation. A fixed-rate mortgage is a home loan with an interest rate that remains the same over the lifetime of the loan. Adjustable-rate or variable rate mortgages are loans with an interest rate that changes over its lifetime. As you consider a mortgage, but are unsure which type is right for you, DIFs encourages you to consider the following questions:
- Is my income enough to cover higher monthly payments if interest rates go up?
- Don’t just ask for the lowest monthly payment without understanding the terms of the loan and whether it’s possible for your monthly payments to increase based on the market.
- How much of a down payment can I afford to make?
- Will I be taking on other sizable debts, such as a loan for a car or school tuition, in the near future?
- How long do I plan to own this home?
- Changing interest rates could significantly impact the amount you owe over the lifetime of your loan depending on the type of mortgage you choose.
- Do I plan to refinance the loan at any time? When?
- Do I plan to make any additional payments or pay the loan off early?
- Some adjustable-rate mortgages have a prepayment penalty.
- Am I a military veteran, on active military duty, or a surviving spouse of someone in the armed forces who may be eligible for a VA backed loan?
Michiganders considering applying for a mortgage can find more information from DIFs at the following link: Mortgages: Fixed Rate vs Adjustable Rate.
Attend an Upcoming Webinar to Better Understand Financial Aid Award Letters
Students and families who have completed their Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) and received a financial aid award letter from their chosen college or university are encouraged to attend an upcoming webinar, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.
This webinar can help students and families navigate the complexity of college and university award letters, providing valuable insight on how to pay for college. Time will also be dedicated to providing information on the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, which is a ‘game changer’ for the Class of 2023 students. Don’t hesitate to sign up for a session today!
The MI Student Aid Outreach Team will be providing the following information during the webinars:
- How to compare college financial aid award letters.
- Tools to help students and families make the best financial decisions.
- Better understand the individual scholarships, grants and loans offered.
- Scholarship search resources and easy to use budgeting tools.
- Submit general aid related questions via Q&A and receive real-time answers.
All sessions are free of charge and open to the public. Please register for one session only, as space is limited.
For more resources, visit Understanding Your Award Letter on MI Student Aid’s website.
Michigan Achievement Scholarship: Students who graduate from high school in Michigan with a diploma, certificate of completion or achieved a high school equivalency certificate in 2023 or after may be eligible for more financial aid from the state of Michigan through the Michigan Achievement Scholarship. Possible student awards include:
- Up to $2,000 if they attend an eligible training provider in Michigan, per year, up to two years.
- Up to $2,750 if they attend a Michigan community college, per year, up to three years.
- Up to $4,000 if they attend a Michigan private college or university, per year, up to five years.
- Up to $5,500 if they attend a Michigan public university, per year, up to five years.
Completion of the FAFSA is required to be considered for the Michigan Achievement Scholarship. To get started with the FAFSA, go to FAFSA.gov. Additional information about the Michigan Achievement Scholarship is available at Michigan.gov/achievement.