Welcome to the new ACS CAN Government Relations Notebook. The purpose of having this is to provide updates on the happenings at the State and Federal levels that affect our fight against cancer. It is my hope to have a weekly report that will go across most platforms during the legislative session and a monthly update during the summer months.
First I want to start out by introducing myself. I have been involved in Michigan State Government and politics for the past decade. I started out as an intern with Representative Kevin Green, who was in Michigan's 77th district, then was hired to work full time by Representative Kevin Elsenheimer, who was in Michigan's 105th district. While with both Elsenheimer and Green I did a majority of constituent services, caucus staff development, and campaign work.
I was approached by the Michigan State Medical Society to join their government relations team in 2009. At MSMS I did a flurry of activities including policy analysis and development, communications throughout the MSMS community, and lobbying work within the legislature and the Governor's administration. Once I learned of the opportunity with ACS CAN I jumped knowing that it would be a wonderful opportunity to broaden my horizons and work for such a great team, and here I am today. So now on to the news:
Over the past several weeks the Governor, along with the legislature, has been working on putting together the State's budget for the coming fiscal year. We were excited to see that the Governor in his budget proposal provided the $500K for cancer prevention programming that the Department of Community Health received last year. This year we want to continue that momentum and move us into an area where more funding can be added to the budget line, asking for an additional $500K. Providing funding for these crucial programs will only make the move of the State to implement the Healthy Michigan Program stronger. These two programs can work in concert together but it depends on the lawmakers to make it a priority.
E-cigarettes are once again making their way into the spotlight in Michigan politics. This past week Senator Rick Jones introduced Senate Bill 231 which was the package that ACS CAN and others adamantly fought against. SB 231 would place E-cigarettes in a classification of their own since the nicotine is not delivered by smoking tobacco, supporters of the legislation say that it's not tobacco. We say why does the delivery system matter, you are still getting the harmful effects from smoking tobacco by using an e-cigarette. This is an issues that we will be engaged with throughout the term.
On the federal level there is an issue that we are paying attention to as this moment being interested in where it goes. The House of Representatives this past week passed HR 2 which would provide for several reforms in Medicare and Medicaid. The largest though was the fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate, the formula used to provide payment for physicians in Medicare, was a part of the legislation. The bill would now move physician into a quality reporting system where if physicians would meet certain quality standards they would receive a higher reimbursement. This could be great for patient care in the future.
Also attached to HR 2 is a funding extension for Community Health Centers with tie in to Federally Qualified Health Centers in Michigan. Michigan currently has 36 CHC's and FQHC's along with 5 that are State look a likes. The provisions added in the bill would continue funding through 2017.
We will be tracking these issues and others in the coming months. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.