Whitmer OKs $385M bill with aid for hospitals, nursing homes

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LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday signed a $385 million supplemental budget bill, two-thirds of which will go to Michigan hospitals and nursing homes confronting financial pressures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The new law allocates $10 million in state emergency spending for places hit with tornadoes, heavy rainfall and flooding in late June. More than $100 million will go toward increasing subsidy rates by 40% for child care providers that serve low-income children, retroactive to last October, and paying providers based on enrollment and not attendance as of late June.

All but $17 million of the funding is from federal COVID-19 relief aid enacted by Congress and former President Donald Trump late last year. Some funds will expand grants to county sheriffs to patrol roads amid an increase in fatal crashes and replenish a state fund that compensates wrongfully convicted prisoners.

During a bill-signing event at Ypsilanti’s Parkridge Community Center, the Democratic governor called the spending “another piece of the puzzle” as Michigan’s economy rebounds.

Grants to hospitals — $160 million total — will be proportional to their share of Medicaid revenue. Nursing homes that have seen a 5% or higher decline in occupancy will split $100 million based on their population of Medicaid-eligible residents.

“Michigan hospitals have experienced significant financial hardships while caring for over 125,000 COVID-19 patients over the past 16 months of the pandemic,” Michigan Health and Hospital Association CEO Brian Peters said in a statement that thanked Whitmer and lawmakers for helping maintain residents’ access to care.

The child care funding was applauded, too, as a major step to help providers reopen and pay better wages.

“A strong child care system is crucial to Michigan’s future, both economically and socially. Access to high-quality, affordable child care means parents can return to work, and providers can keep their doors open when they have the resources,” said Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

It was not immediately clear how the disaster-response funding will be used. Homeowners affected by Detroit-area flooding joined the governor and spoke of their plight.

Whitmer said federal, state and local officials were working on a plan to help people with flooded basements and noted that President Joe Biden has made federal disaster assistance available.

“We are hopeful that we can infuse some resources now through this action, that the federal dollars will start to flow in but that (the federal government) will also give us the ability to expand our request because of course we have now homeowners that have been hit multiple times or for the first time that weren’t included in that first, initial declaration,” she said.

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