There is some good news on the budget front. Two items the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance has been tracking are earning early victories as the budget debate moves forward toward its June 1st deadline.
Rural Hospital Funding:
Recently, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Community Health reported its initial version of the fiscal year (FY) 2015 Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) budget to the full Senate Appropriations Committee. SB 763 (S-1), sponsored and pushed by Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance Senator John Moolenaar, includes several funding improvements for hospitals and health systems compared to the initial House subcommittee version, which passed in late March. These provisions are critical to keeping rural northern Michigan hospitals financially stable and avoiding the risk of losing labor and delivery services for residents in northern Michigan communities.
The bill restores $36 million in funding cuts made in the Governor’s budget recommendation for the small and rural hospital access pool. This is a big first step to restoring the funding after the House removed that funding from their initial Community Health budget passed in March. Assuming the full Senate passes SB 763 (S-1), the House and Senate will hammer out the differences in a conference committee that will likely be held in mid-May.
Our northern Michigan hospitals are asking us to engage and contact our Representatives and Senators with two asks:
Approve a community health budget that:
1. Restores $36 million to the small and rural hospital access pool, and
2. Includes provisions for improved Medicaid reimbursement for rural labor and delivery services.
K-12 Education funding:
The Senate also passed a K-12 education budget (SB 775 sponsored by Sen. Howard Walker) which included both an addition $65 million for early childhood education and 2x funding for foundation allowance increases. With the 2x formula, northern Michigan schools would be looking at increases from $200 to $300 per pupil.
The House version of the K-12 budget also includes funding based on the 2x formula and equity payments.
Both of these are wins for the Alliance’s agenda, and we will be following them closely and taking action as needed as the budget moves forward.