June signals the end of the budget discussions and more importantly the unofficial start of summer. The House and Senate began their work to revise the state budgets for the coming fiscal year. In mid-May the House and Senate Fiscal Agencies along with the State Treasurer sat down and gave their final revenue estimate for the coming fiscal year. Projections were down from the January meeting due to lower tax revenue from gasoline. This left the legislature with the need to find savings in the coming year. ACS CAN contacted the six-member conference committee for the Health and Human Services budget and asked that three items not be considered in their final deliberations.
Two of the items were money related to tobacco and cancer prevention. We asked that the tobacco and cancer prevention lines stay at their current levels and not receive any cuts from the current fiscal year budget.
The third item dealt with access to cancer medications for those on Medicaid. Since the nineties, those on Medicaid never had to obtain prior authorization for certain classes of drugs. Those classes are arranged by condition rather than drug class. Cancer is a condition that is listed in the statute for those on fee-for-service Medicaid, those on an HMO plan receive the protection but it is not written in statute, but rather an internal policy of the Department of Health and Human Services. Language in this year’s budget would allow that protection to be codified for one year for those on an HMO plan. The committee is scheduled to meet during the week of June 6th to finalized the budget.
Our other exciting news in Michigan is we are now one big step closer to have greater access to oral chemotherapy drugs in Michigan. The Senate overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 625 by a 36-1 vote. Senate Bill 625 is oral chemotherapy fairness legislation that ACS CAN has been working on with other coalition partners. The legislation now sits in the House Insurance committee where the chairman has signaled that the legislation would not move until after the elections. We are working with coalition partners and others to get the legislation moved before the November election date. Grassroots activities will take place throughout the summer to keep the issue in the spotlight for members of the House Insurance Committee.