A package of four Senate bills that modify the requirements for health facilities wishing to expand, including those increasing psychiatric bed numbers or purchasing an air ambulance, received a hearing in the House Health Policy Committee.

SB 181, sponsored by Sen. Curtis VanderWall (R-Ludington), would allow health facilities to bypass certificates of need in order to expand their number of psychiatric beds. It would also increase the threshold on expenditures requiring certificates of need to $10 million.

Currently, health facilities wishing to increase in size or spend more than $2.5 million on upgrades need a certificate.

SB 182, sponsored by Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton), would increase Certificate of Need Commission members from 11 to 13, and require one of the new additions to be from a county with 40,000 people or less.

Both bills are necessary to speed up outdated processes which hinder hospitals’ “ability to upgrade and expand efficiently,” said Jordan Jorritsma, VanderWall’s legislative director, in testimony before the House Health Policy committee.

“When we have places that want to expand current beds or build a new facility, I don’t believe we need this extra bureaucratic burden,” Jorritsma said, “which slows down the process of getting those beds online and operable.”

But trying to increase expansion could lead to more worker shortages by spreading employees thin, said Jenifer Nyhuis, the CEO and managing director of Havenwyck Hospital.

“This will increase competition for such staff and will inevitably lead to increased costs as a result,” Nyhuis said.

Jorritsma agreed that worker shortages are a barrier, but he said SB 183, sponsored by Sen. Michael MacDonald (R-Sterling Heights), could make it easier for facilities that have to close and transfer their available beds.

The bill removes a provision that hospitals can’t transfer 35% or more of their licensed beds to another hospital if the city has a population of 750,000, which MacDonald said no city in Michigan currently has.

Another concern brought up in prior testimony is the lack of public beds available, Jorritsma said.

SB 190, also sponsored by VanderWall, would change licensure requirements to make 50% of beds available to public patients.

The bills, which are tie-barred, passed the Senate with a vote of 75-20, with 15 Senators electing not to vote.

Cards read opposing the bills included Adam Carlson, Michigan Health and Hospital Association, opposing all four. SB 181 is opposed by Trinity Health, the Michigan Manufacturers Association, Forest View Hospital, Cedar Creek Hospital and the Economic Alliance of Michigan.

Cards read in favor included Allisyn Mattice, McLaren HealthCare, supporting all four. David Worthams, Michigan Manufacturers Association, supporting SB 182, 183 and 190.

This story courtesy of MIRS, a Lansing-based news and information service.