Legislature advances variety of nursing regulatory measures

Legislature advances variety of nursing regulatory measures

Bills that the Michigan County Medical Care Facilities Council (MMCFC) has been tracking for many months cleared the Legislature the week of Dec. 14-18.

Senate Bill 77, by Sen. Jim Runestad (R-Oakland) would require a nursing home to allow a resident or their representative to monitor the resident using an electronic monitoring device. Under the bill, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) could promulgate rules, in consultation with the long-term care ombudsman program, to establish procedures for residents to request a camera and requirements for when the camera must be turned off or blocked to protect residents’ privacy.

The House amended the bill on the floor, however, so that audio recordings are disallowed. After the Senate agreed to the new version, the bill heads to the governor’s desk for review.

House Bill 4098, by Rep. Ben Frederick (R-Shiawassee), passed the Legislature this week as well and now goes to the governor. It would create a medication aide training and permit program that will undoubtedly enhance resident safety and help address the workforce issues all facilities are facing. The legislation closely mirrors the statutory framework in place for a certified nurse aide (CNA), and would allow a CNA to complete additional education and testing to become a medication aide. Responsibilities of medication aides are limited in scope and the aide would not be allowed to administer controlled substances, medications in injectable forms or the initial administration of medications. This additional support to nursing staff would help with routine care.

Union groups have opposed this, leading to a partisan divide. It is not certain if the governor will approve or reject this bill. MCMCFC sent an alert to MCF administrators to urge enactment of this bill.

Lastly, extending health provider immunity was passed to ensure protections from March 29 through July 13, 2020, and from Oct. 30 through Feb. 13, 2021. Similar to the recently passed “Pandemic Health Care Immunity Act,” Senate Bill 1185, by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Mason) would extend COVID-19 liability protections for most health care facilities, including MCFs, to psychiatric hospitals, psychiatric units, and nursing home care and recovery centers. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

The governor is expected to review, sign or reject bills after the Christmas holiday.