On March 2nd, the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance joined a coalition of hospitals in northern Michigan in Lansing to testify in front of the House Department of Community Health appropriations subcommittee. The Alliance was advocating for the reinstatement of $36 million to the Small and Rural Hospital Access Pool, and $11.2 million for the Obstetrics (OB) Stabilization Fund that was left out of Governor Rick Snyder’s FY 2015-2016 budget proposal.
Three years ago, the Michigan Legislature created the Small and Rural Access Pool to help maintain local access to critical hospital services such as primary care, emergency room and OB services, in smaller, more rural communities. Last year, recognizing the importance of OB services, the Legislature dedicated a separate fund, the OB Stabilization Fund to support the continued availability of obstetric services in rural, underserved communities. As a result, in FY15, the Michigan legislature appropriated $36 million dollars for the Small and Rural Hospital Pool and $11.2 million dollars for the OB Stabilization Fund, funding that went directly to support continued access to these critical services throughout the state and specifically in Northern Michigan.
The Chamber Alliance and local northern Michigan hospitals were successful a year ago in getting this funding restored when it was not included in the Governor’s proposed budget. The Alliance and hospital coalition relied on then-State Senator John Moolenaar, who was Chair of the Senate Dept. of Community Health (DCH) appropriations subcommittee, and various northern Michigan legislators in the Michigan House to help share the importance of this funding for small and rural communities.
Northern Michigan does not have the same legislative firepower this year on the DCH budget, as no legislators from the Alliance region currently sit on the DCH subcommittee. Complicating things further is the fact that this year legislators are faced with a roughly $400 million budget deficit, whereas in 2014 they were in the midst of distributing funds from a proposed budget surplus.
Northern Michigan communities must rely on early and consistent communications with their legislators in 2015 if they hope to restore funding for critical services at their local hospitals.
The Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance joins our comminity hospitals in urging you to Take Action by contacting your legislators below.