State Rep. Julie Calley this week led the House in approving a plan to expand early treatment capacity for COVID-19 patients, ease worker shortages in the health care system and keep schools open for in-person learning
The $1.077 billion supplemental budget plan, sponsored by Calley, is funded entirely by federal COVID relief dollars allocated to the state.
“Our state continues to face many, many challenges due to COVID-19,” said Calley, of Portland. “This plan provides widespread support to areas that need relief, including our short-staffed hospitals, schools in need of screening supplies, and patients who need access to life-saving treatments.”
Highlights of the plan include:
Early treatment in COVID cases: Treatments such as monoclonal antibodies often help lessen the severity of COVID cases and allow patients to recover more quickly. Studies suggest the drugs can reduce the risk of hospitalization or death for COVID-positive patients by up to 85 percent. Currently, delivery is bottlenecked at short-staffed hospitals – the House plan will expand delivery to eight additional sites across Michigan. Investment in buying and expanding delivery of the potential lifesaving drugs – and other medicines such as COVID treatment pills that are coming soon – will be up to $134 million. Priority must be given to high-risk individuals, and treatments must be offered free of charge.
“Monoclonal antibody treatments have proven to reduce hospitalizations and death from COVID,” Calley said. “In order to better protect Michigan, my goal is to make sure they are available to as many people as possible.”
Easing the health care worker shortage: With thousands of unfilled health care positions across the state, those still on the job are stretched too thin and need reinforcements. The House plan provides about $300 million for health care employee recruitment and retention and additional support for nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Keeping students in school and protecting residents: About $668 million would be provided for COVID testing overall, including $150 million for schools to buy COVID testing kits directly and allow the state to stockpile additional tests for schools. Another $150 million is on track to be allocated to schools early next year. About $100 million would be provided for private employers to test unvaccinated workers. An additional $90 million would continue the state’s vaccination program.
“We’re making sure our teachers, support staff and students have access to tests, so they’re able to stay in school,” Calley said. “Locally, schools are offering a ‘test to stay’ program, and it has been fantastic. Instead of being isolated because they may have been exposed, students are able to test, wait 15 minutes, find out they were negative, then go into school and continue to learn.”
The Michigan Legislature previously has appropriated more than $4 billion specifically for schools to address the pandemic.
House Bill 5523 was approved by the House with bipartisan support.
State Rep. Julie Calley recently led the House in approving a plan to allow judges who oversee Michigan’s treatment courts to discuss the use of medical marijuana with participants.