Legislative Updates & Schedule
The Michigan House and Senate have been adjourned for much of July and August. At this time, the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan Senate only plan to return to session before the election on September 21 and September 28.
After the election, the Legislature will return in late November for the final push of the 2021-2022 legislative session, known as “lame duck”. Major issues, such as the fate of behavioral health reform, could be on the negotiating table at the end of the year.
On Thursday, August 26, the state Court of Appeals issued a ruling in Andary v. USAA Casualty Insurance Company that the 45 percent cut to entities providing health care to auto accident victims cannot be applied retroactively. At issue was the legislative intent as it applies to the rate setting under the 2019 auto-no fault law.
Judge Douglas Shapiro and Judge Sima Patel authored the opinion, which held that the Legislature failed to indicate that the limits on benefits should be applied before the law’s effectiveness date, despite insurer attorneys’ arguments to the contrary.
The ruling was a major win for auto accident victims who were receiving unlimited coverage benefits prior to the law going into effect. It is expected that the ruling will be appealed and ultimately taken to the Michigan Supreme Court.
Regional Health Advisory Councils
Recently, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced the creation of eleven Regional Health Advisory Councils across the state. These Councils are designed to combat health disparities in both rural and underserved communities.
Composed of community organizations, the Regional Health Advisory Councils will serve populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. They will be tasked with reducing COVID disparities in minority populations, planning reduction of community- identified priority risk factors, developing, and implementing practices and policies to promote equity and reduce disparities, efficiently and equitably distribution distributing resources to communities, and developing community- driven decision making and priority setting.
They will be funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support grant. The following counties will have an established council: Genesee, Ingham, Kent, Oakland, Ottawa, Macomb, Muskegon, Saginaw, Washtenaw, Wayne, and the City of Detroit.
Update on Reproductive Health in Michigan
After two days of oral arguments, reproductive rights advocates won a temporary victory on August 19 when Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Cunningham extended a preliminary injunction on the 1931 law that essentially bans abortion in Michigan.
The preliminary hearing in Whitmer v. Linderman et al. was called by Judge Cunningham after a Court of Appeals (COA) decision in early August that rendered the existing injunction on the 1931 ban only applicable to state law enforcement, not local prosecutors. Quickly following the COA decision, Judge Cunningham granted Governor Whitmer’s request for a temporary restraining order on county prosecutors and called for another hearing on August 17 to review the injunction.
The decision on August 19 reinstates the injunction until after the November 8 election when voters will potentially have the opportunity to vote on a ballot proposal that will enshrine some level of abortion rights in the state Constitution. The court set a pre-trial conference for 9:30 a.m. on November 21.
At this time, any further legal action regarding the constitutionality of abortion would likely stem from the Michigan Supreme Court; however, it remains unclear as to whether the court will choose to act before the election.