Split Michigan Senate OKs changes to regulation of hospitals

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LANSING – A split Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved changes so hospitals could do multimillion-dollar construction or renovation projects without needing regulatory approval and also voted to exempt them from needing the state's OK to add psychiatric beds.

The five Republican-sponsored bills, which were passed on party lines, were sent to the GOP-led House for consideration next.

The legislation would change the certificate of need program, which is intended to ensure that only needed health services are added in Michigan.

The law now requires hospitals, nursing homes, surgical outpatient facilities and others to secure state approval before doing capital expenditure projects exceeding $3.375 million. One bill would eliminate the requirement.

Other measures would no longer require hospitals to get clearance to add psychiatric beds but add a new mandate that psychiatric hospitals or units make half of their beds available to low-income patients referred by community mental health centers that serve those without insurance. Other bills would repeal the certificate of need requirement for air ambulance services and add more members to the Certificate of Need Commission.

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