Oct. 1, 2021 - With just days remaining before the Oct. 1 start of Fiscal Year 2021-2022, the Michigan Legislature sent budget bills to Gov. Whitmer for funding the state government.
Senate Bill 82, the omnibus bill that outlines all state department budgets, with the exception of the Michigan Department of Education, funds the government at nearly $70 billion. Of that, $31.5 billion ($5.4 billion General Fund) is allocated to the state’s largest departmental budget, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). This represents a more than 10% increase over last year’s MDHHS budget.
Gov. Whitmer approved the budget, signing SB 82 on Sep. 29. Below are highlights of importance to family physicians and MAFP's advocacy priorities.
Michigan State Loan Repayment Program: State funding maintained at $1.5 million (allows for the maximum federal match).
MSLRP helps employers recruit and retain primary medical, dental, and mental healthcare professionals by providing loan repayment in exchange for practicing in a federally-designated healthcare professional shortage area (HPSA). Increasing funding for this vital healthcare workforce program is among MAFP’s top advocacy priorities.
MIDOCS: $1 million increase, raising funding to $6.4 million.
This relatively new program was established to expand residency positions in primary care specialties and help recruit/retain physicians in underserved areas of the state. Increasing funding for this vital healthcare workforce program is also among MAFP’s top advocacy priorities.
Healthy Moms Healthy Babies: $10 million increase.
This program expands Medicaid healthcare coverage for low-income new mothers and babies from 60 days to a full year postpartum. MAFP continues to support this program, as it provides much needed medical and behavioral healthcare services to this vulnerable population.
Medicaid: $280 million increase (due to increased caseload).
Healthy Michigan Plan: $400 million increase.
The state’s expanded Medicaid program currently provides healthcare coverage for more than 850,000 Michiganders, with 265,000-plus enrolling through the marketplace.
Child Welfare: $75 million.
This funding will support existing and new programs, with the goal of increasing adoption and foster care rates and expanding staffing to help meet the increased child welfare caseload.
Direct Care Workers: $460 million.
This funding allows for a $2.35/hour permanent raise for direct care workers. This raise was enacted earlier through executive order and supplemental spending bills but has now been made permanent through the FY 2021-2022 state budget.
Honor Community Health: $1 million.
This Federally Qualified Health Center offers comprehensive primary and preventive care to families in and around Pontiac.
Authority Health: $450,000.
This is Michigan’s only Teaching Health Center. In addition to providing comprehensive primary and preventive care at three health centers in the Detroit area, Authority Health administers family medicine, internal medicine, pediatric, and psychiatry residency programs, also in Detroit.
COVID-19 Boilerplate Language: In addition to providing funding provisions, the FY 2021-2022 state budget bill includes COVID-19 related boilerplate language. Most notably, the language restricts local public health officers and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director from implementing mask mandates. Gov. Whitmer stated that she will not enforce these COVID-10 related provisions.
Upon signing the budget bill, Gov. Whitmer vetoed nearly $15 million in Republican-supported items that would, among other things, have required healthcare professionals to promote abortion alternatives and prevented physicians and non-physician providers from mentioning abortion services.
With passage of the $70 billion state budget, nearly $7 billion of federal COVID-19 relief funds have yet to be allocated in Michigan. The Legislature has been split on how to handle these funds, with some preferring to wait to spend the money, while others see it as an opportunity to make investments now. Stay tuned as more budget work is yet to come and MAFP continues to back initiatives where COVID-19 relief funds can be used immediately.