LANSING — The Michigan House of Representatives approved today state Rep. Henry Yanez’ (D-Sterling Heights) House Bill 4528. The bill would expand the Health Professional Recovery Program to emergency medical professionals.

“This bill will give emergency medical professionals dealing with mental health or substance abuse issues the help they need,” said Yanez.

The Health Professional Recovery Program was established in 1994 for health professionals affected by mental illness or substance abuse. The program provides for rehabilitation services as well as continuing care or aftercare. Currently, health professionals in 24 licensed occupations including massage therapists, nutritionists and acupuncturists are eligible for the program. 

          House Bill 4528 will make emergency medical services personnel eligible for the program. In order to be eligible, an individual must acknowledge their impairment, withdraw from or limit the scope of their professional duties, and agree to participate in a treatment plan that meets the criteria established by the health professional recovery committee.

“For almost 20 years, I worked as a firefighter and EMT, and I know how stressful the job is,” Yanez said. “Because of the job, these workers are at an increased risk for PTSD, depression and substance abuse. Opioid abuse is on the rise in Macomb County as well as throughout Michigan. With this bill, we’re a step closer to making it easier for them to get the help they need without losing their job or license.  It is designed not just to save lives, but the livelihoods of the people our community relies on in a crisis.”