MPCA, Michigan Health Centers Eager to Work with Gov. Snyder on Making His Vision for Health and Wellness a Reality

by Douglas M. Paterson, MPA, Director of State Policy, MPCA

Yesterday morning, September 14, at the new Heart of the City Health Center in Grand Rapids, our illustrious Chris Shea, Executive Director of Cherry Street Health Services, hosted Governor Snyder and various dignitaries as the Governor delivered to the people of Michigan and the Legislature his special message on health and wellness.  The message included a variety of plans and themes intended to build a strong Michigan by promoting healthier lifestyles, which will reduce health care costs to taxpayers and job providers.  Like the Governor’s other initiatives, an online Michigan Health and Wellness Dashboard was created to track the progress in these area.

To promote improved personal health practices, Governor Snyder’s plan creates the “Michigan 4X4 plan” that combines four positive health behaviors (healthy diet, regular exercise, annual physical exams, and avoid all tobacco use) with four positive health measures (Body Mass Index, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels).

Of particular interest to the mission of the Michigan Primary Care Association and Community Health Centers, the Governor highlighted the need “to develop a primary-care based system with a patient-centered medical home, where care is coordinated, patients receive appropriate preventive services including dental care, where electronic health records are utilized and where health information is shared”.  This sounds very much like a Federally Qualified Health Center (also known as a Community Health Center).  He specifically mentioned oral health, calling upon state government to promote awareness among the public and policy makers about the link between systemic and oral health and the consequences of not having access to oral health care services.  He also called for expansion of Healthy Kids dental statewide and committed to include it in budget deliberations next year.

Under his discussion on access to care, he again, like in his campaign platform, specifically mentioned FQHCs and the need for expansion.  He specifically directed the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) to pursue new FQHCs and seek assistance from the Michigan Congressional delegation to help address this.

The Governor also called upon MDCH to develop a plan to integrate physical and behavioral health care including simplification and reductions of barriers to such integration.

With regard to health care reform, Governor Snyder called for the development of a Michigan-specific “exchange” and suggested it be renamed  “the Michigan Health Marketplace”.  He outlined guiding principles that should drive the development and challenged the legislature to work with him to pass the necessary legislation to create the marketplace by Thanksgiving.  This is very significant since there are still many members in the legislature who believe that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed or would prefer to wait for a final decision on constitutionality before the state proceeds.

Finally, the Governor also believes that the Public Health Code is out of date and needs to be updated in many areas.  He specifically mentioned the parts of the code related to health professions.  He acknowledged the impending provider shortages and calls for examining how “other members of the health care team can partner with the medical community to deliver service.”  He stated that the ability to more effectively utilize mid-level practitioners is limited by our current regulatory system.  He called upon the Office of Regulatory Reinvention to work with MDCH to develop and implement a strategic plan to address our current and anticipated shortages in the health care sector.

The Governor concluded his special message on health and wellness by stating that “health is the foundation for Michigan’s economic transformation–it allows our children to thrive and learn, it readies our graduates for meaningful careers and it permits our current workforce to grow and adapt.”

MPCA looks forward to working with the administration to make the Governor’s message and vision become reality.

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