The Michigan House today approved plans to expand the state’s capacity to provide early treatment for COVID-19 patients and address a critical shortage of health care workers, along with several other important initiatives while closing the books on the state’s most recently completed fiscal year.
“This is a multi-faceted plan to help more COVID patients recover more quickly and fully, provide reinforcements at short-staffed hospitals, and keep students healthy and able to catch up on lost learning,” said Rep. Thomas Albert, chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “We are coming together and doing what must be done for our state right now, while also building positive momentum for important initiatives moving forward.”
House Bill 5523 includes more than $1 billion in federal COVID relief funds already available to the state. The measure provides $134 million to buy and administer monoclonal antibodies and other promising treatments for COVID patients, which studies suggest reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by up to 85 percent for COVID-positive patients. Currently, delivery is bottlenecked at short-staffed hospitals – the House plan will expand delivery to eight additional sites across Michigan. The measure – now headed to the Senate for consideration – also includes $300 million for health care employee recruitment and retention, and $90 million to support vaccinations.
House Bill 4398 authorizes remaining federal COVID funds that must be allocated now based on federal requirements, and can’t be used for other purposes. It also provides some discretionary funding while closing the books for the state’s 2021 fiscal year. This measure is expected to be headed to the governor’s desk for consideration soon.
Combined, the two bills will provide $300 million in additional funding for COVID testing in schools. Half of the funding is authorized through House Bill 4398, and the other half is contained in House Bill 5523. Intermediate school districts will play a key role in testing kit redistribution if it is needed.
House Bill 4398 includes COVID-related funds for rental assistance, support of families, mental health and nursing homes. The measure includes $36 million for state response to environmental health threats, along with money for airports and several other projects across Michigan.