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CAN is an outreach of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan
April 21, 2017
 

  In This Update:  
 
  • House and Senate Subcommittees Move 2017-2018 DHHS Proposals Forward
  • Measure to Eliminate Prostitution Exemption Passes Senate Committee
  • The Word from Lansing Column: Confronting Michigan's Growing Opioid Crisis
 
  House and Senate Subcommittees Move 2017-2018 DHHS Proposals Forward  
 
After this week, all the legislative budget proposals for the 2017-2018 year have been voted out of their respective subcommittees in both the House and Senate. These proposals will now receive further consideration from the House and Senate Appropriations Committees before receiving a vote in full chambers. Later in the process, the House and Senate will work together on resolving any remaining differences between their proposals. Previously, Lansing Update included information on several of the education items staff has been watching in the proposed budget. This week, Lansing Update turns to areas of interest within the Department of Health and Human Services budget that passed this week:
 
Pregnancy and Parenting Support Program: This life-affirming program provides counseling, parenting education, and material support to women in crisis pregnancies and their babies, up through twelve months after birth. Staff was pleased to see that Governor Snyder recommended funding be included in his budget proposal for the first time in its five year history. Both the House and the Senate subcommittee proposals include $400,000 to continue this program, which will fund a partial year. Michigan Catholic Conference staff will advocate for lawmakers to include a full year's funding in the final budget at $700,000.
 
Heat and Eat Program: The Heat and Eat policy helps low-income residents, including elderly and persons with disabilities, receive additional food assistance from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). "Heat and Eat" is the informal name for state policies that state heating assistance to qualify food assistance recipients for increased benefits from SNAP. Governor Snyder's recommendation provides $6.8 million in state energy assistance funding this year-a little more than $20 per family-which allows approximately 338,173 low-income families to qualify for an average of $76 per month in federal food assistance. The House Health and Human Services Subcommittee concurs with the governor's proposal. The Senate subcommittee cut most of the funding for this program, but included a $100 placeholder so that discussions could continue. Michigan Catholic Conference is working to find a way to include the funding in the final budget.
 
Behavioral and Mental Health (Section 298) Funding: In his budget recommendation, Governor Snyder called upon the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to work with stakeholders and improve how publically funded behavioral health and physical health services are coordinated, building on recommendations of a year-long workgroup (read MCC's past update on the workgroup here). The House subcommittee's proposal recommends that the department implement a statewide behavioral health managed care organization. The proposed language also calls for a pilot program based on a full physical and behavioral health integrated service model. Unfortunately, the Senate subcommittee proposal approved language to allow the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct pilot projects and demonstration models for bringing the delivery of mental and physical health services together. The proposal also includes non-binding language that by the end of Fiscal Year 2020, the state should have mental and physical health Medicaid services managed through a single licensed health plan contract. MCC joined with other groups this week to call instead for language which supports the recommendations of the workgroup to keep behavioral health services publicly managed. As the budget process moves forward, staff will continue to advocate for language that preserves public management and will oppose language that moves towards privatization.
 
Children's Clothing Allowance: The allowance helps Michigan's low-income families purchase clothing for their children as the school year begins. In last year's budget, lawmakers expanded eligibility for the program to all school-age children that receive Family Independence Program (FIP) benefits, allowing approximately 25,000 additional children to receive $140 per year for this purpose. For the 2017-2018 state budget, Governor Snyder proposed raising the amount of funding for this program to allow for each child to receive $200 per year. The House Health and Human Services Subcommittee raises the funding to $160 per child per year, while the Senate Health and Human Services Subcommittee maintains the current funding level of $140 per child per year.
 
Human Trafficking Intervention Services: This funding helps develop strategies to eliminate human trafficking, support programs that enhance community and care services for at-risk persons and survivors of human trafficking, and supports the Human Trafficking Health Advisory Board in its work. The House and Senate subcommittees each provide $200,000 for this purpose, agreeing with the governor's proposal.
 
Per Diem Rates for Foster Care Agencies: Funding has been included in previous budgets for the per diem administrative rate for private foster care agencies who are contract with the Department of Health and Human Services (such as Catholic Charities). Last budget cycle, the per diem administrative rate for private foster care agencies was $45. The governor proposed raising this administrative rate for private foster care agencies, independent living, and trial unification services to $46.20. Governor Snyder's proposal eliminated a provision that would hold the county harmless for this rate, restoring a fifty-fifty cost sharing between the county and the state. The House raises this rate to $45.60 and also restores cost sharing. Senate proposal agrees with the amount recommended by the governor, but unlike his proposal, continues a provision that holds the county harmless from contributing to this rate.
 
Homeless Emergency Shelter Per Diem Rate: This funding helps provide emergency shelter for Michigan's homeless and helps those individuals transition into permanent, stable housing. The governor recommends an additional $3.7 million to help the state's emergency homeless shelters work with their clients on this task. This funding would increase the per diem rate provided to emergency shelters from $12 to $16 per bed night. The House Health and Human Services Subcommittee agreed with the governor's recommendations. Currently the Senate Health and Human Services Subcommittee proposal provides for a $100 increase in these services as a placeholder.
 
  Measure to Eliminate Prostitution Exemption Passes Senate Committee  
 

Michigan is currently the only state in the country with a law still on the books that grants on-duty police officers immunity from prosecution if they have had sex with a prostitute during an investigation. However, local and state police say this tactic is not part of undercover training and is not used. This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 275, sponsored by Senator Judy Emmons (R-Sheridan), which would remove this exemption. The measure now continues to the full Senate floor for further consideration. A similar bill awaits action in the House Law and Justice Committee-House Bill 4355, sponsored by Representative Gary Glenn (R-Larkin Township). Both measures have bi-partisan co-sponsorship, and Michigan Catholic Conference will continue to strongly support these bills as they move forward.

 
  The Word from Lansing Column: Confronting Michigan's Growing Opioid Crisis  
 
In 2016, Pope Francis described the deep wound drugs have inflicted on our society, calling addiction a "new form of slavery." Far too many individuals, families, and communities across Michigan are struggling with the painful reality of opioid and prescription drug abuse. The Word from Lansing column for April outlines the impact of the opioid crisis on Michigan and speaks to the need for greater collaboration in combatting abuse and the problems underlying addiction.
 
Most Reverend John Doerfler, Bishop of the Diocese of Marquette, recently joined with three other Upper Peninsula faith leaders to talk about this crisis and addictions. Read their Ecumenical Statement on Addictions here.

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Michigan Catholic Conference, 510 South Capitol Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48933 Michigan Catholic Conference: The Official Public Policy Voice of the Catholic Church in Michigan Phone: (517) 372-9310, Fax: (517) 372-3940, publicpolicy@micatholic.org