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MAAS Lobbyist Bret Marr of Muchmore, Harrington, Smalley & Associates, Inc.



The Michigan Legislature has adjourned for the year and will return January 11, 2017 for the beginning of the 99th State Legislature.  This is a ceremonial day where members are sworn in and Speaker Tom Leonard is officially voted on by his peers.  Governor Snyder has set the date for his State of the State as Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 7 pm. This is the unofficial kick-off of the new legislative session.  His budget message will be delivered on Thursday, February 2, 2017.  Below is a wrap up of 2016 and a set of priorities for 2017. 

 

Election Results – Obviously, there are major changes on the horizon in D.C., especially for healthcare.  MAAS will keep in constant contact with AAA as those changes begin to unfold in the nation’s capital.  Undoubtedly, any change in D.C. will have an impact on Michigan.  One thing that didn’t change was the Michigan House of Representatives.  The GOP had a 63 seat majority in 2015-16 and will continue to have 63 seats in the next session.  The Michigan Supreme Court also stayed at a 5-2 GOP majority.  The State Senate is not up until 2018 which will be a huge election year.

 

Opioid use in the state – We joke sometimes that with 148 legislators in the House and Senate, we will have to watch for 148 bills on opiates.  It’s not quite that bad; however, there’s not a month that goes by without some type of hearing on opioid use or proposals to decrease usage among Michigan’s citizens.  One of the most dangerous issues to MAAS members is the thought of a small group of legislators mandating health protocols that adversely impact the daily operations of EMS services around the state.  MAAS is at all hearings regarding opioid usage and any proposals on the subject.  Through our efforts, we escaped 2016 without any proposals passing that negatively impact EMS operations.

 

Auto No Fault Reform – MAAS has watched this issue since early 2015 when the Senate passed a proposal that would have hurt all health care providers.  At that time, a deal was being negotiated between some in the health care community and auto insurance representatives to address fraud and attendant care issues.  That deal never materialized in the legislature so we’ll be seeing this issue again in the 2017 legislative cycle.  MAAS is ready with an amendment to exempt EMS services from any type of fee schedule but we’ll have to educate the new House members on that proposal as well.

 

Rural EMS issues – MAAS has spent multiple years addressing concerns of rural providers throughout the state and specifically in the UP and northern lower Michigan.  We have worked collaboratively with MDHHS to develop new protocols or re-institute expired protocols throughout the state.  While several legislative proposals were discussed, none were introduced or passed.  MAAS spent the summer of 2016 meeting with members of the Senate Health Policy committee to talk about some of these challenges but we’ll need to focus on House Health Policy members in the coming months once the committee is named.

 

Human Resource Concerns – A number of underlying issues in EMS can be attributed to staffing issues.  Retaining current employees is a daily challenge. While this challenge is a focus of the rural EMS agenda, it is also evident in urban areas where employees move from agency to agency.  MAAS has been meeting with the MDHHS leadership team on programs the state can fund to help encourage new workforce entrants to pursue a career in EMS and not just as a job.  This issue will be our focus for 2017 in both the legislative arena and with our continued efforts w MDHHS.  As is the case with most big issues, we’ll need all of MAAS’ members to participate in educating our policy makers on the importance of addressing this issue at the state level.

 

Please feel free to contact Angela Madden in the MAAS office with any questions at 517.485.3376 or angela@miambulance.org.



 

 

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