State Rep. Michele Hoitenga, of Manton, voted to provide needed support for Michigan patients, health care workers and schools as they face challenges due to COVID-19.
Supplemental funding measures approved in a vote by the Michigan House invest over $1 billion in federal relief dollars to continue moving the state forward. Hospitals and clinics on the front lines of the fight against COVID – dangerously short-staffed with many available jobs unfilled – would receive $300 million for recruitment and retention. The funds work to boost staffing levels and provide people with the care they need.
The measure also 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. With demand outpacing supply and treatments being slow to reach patients at short-staffed hospitals, the House plan will expand delivery to eight additional sites across Michigan.
“Other states have used antibody infusion programs to successfully battle COVID for over a year – and this has reduced hospitalizations. Michigan has not only been late to the game in promoting this, but the demand has outpaced the timely availability of these lifesaving treatments for both vaccinated and unvaccinated patients,” Hoitenga said. “Time is of the essence for this particular treatment. It must be administered as soon as possible upon a positive COVID diagnosis. Unfortunately, there have been problems getting it to people in all corners of our state and so they miss out.
“This legislation is especially important now as cases continue to surge and hospitals reach capacity. We need ways to ease the stress on our hospitals and their staff. This is a strategy that will do that while saving lives.”
Lost learning for students has also been a noted consequence of the pandemic and shutdown orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in response, and the plan Hoitenga worked to approve aims to prevent more situations that would put kids in the U.P. at a disadvantage. A total of $300 million will be provided to boost COVID rapid testing capacity in schools and offer more clarity for administrators, staff and students. Half of the funding will be authorized for distribution immediately and the other half is expected to be distributed early next year. The commitment comes on top of the $4 billion in additional COVID relief given to schools overall so they can operate effectively.
The plans also include funding for rental assistance, support of families, mental health, nursing homes, rural transit and snowmobile trail development and maintenance. House Bills 5523 and 4398 now move to the Senate for further consideration.