State Rep. Mary Whiteford, of Casco Township, today received the Michigan Pharmacists Association Executive Board Medal Award during the association’s virtual Annual Convention & Exposition.
The award is given annually to an individual who has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to pharmacists in communities across Michigan.
Whiteford has served Michigan’s 80th House District, covering 31 municipalities throughout Allegan County, since 2016. She serves as chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, as a member of the Health Policy Committee. She is also the state Legislature’s only registered nurse.
Her work includes implementing increased Medicaid health plan reimbursement rates for small neighborhood pharmacies.
“After listening to Michigan pharmacists, including one in my own community, I learned that Medicaid health plans have a very, very poor reimbursement rate for pharmacists,” Whiteford said. “Raising the rate for all prescriptions required tens of millions of dollars our health and human services budget simply doesn’t have. I instead decided to laser-focus on increasing reimbursement only for small, neighborhood pharmacies.”
The plan wasn’t approved in fiscal year 2020, but Whiteford said she is pleased to report it is being implemented in this year’s budget.
Whiteford also supported a measure prohibiting the selling, marketing, promoting, advertising or distribution of any non-insurance card or purchasing mechanism that purports to offer discounts from pharmacies, unless certain conditions are met. The lawmaker said these cards actually result in higher health care costs for customers.
“I will always prioritize small family businesses, including local pharmacies, as well as the health and wellness of Michigan residents,” Whiteford said. “I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to do so as chair the health and human services budget subcommittee.” Whiteford said she is most proud of her work to create the Michigan Crisis & Access Line (MiCAL), a hotline that will connect people in need with a mental health professional in their community. MiCAL was signed into law and is in the process of being implemented for 2021. It will also house other hotlines, the inpatient psychiatric bed registry and community mental health services.
State Rep. Mary Whiteford, chair of the House Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee, today announced the launch of the Michigan Crisis and Action Line, with the rollout beginning in Oakland County and the Upper Peninsula. Whiteford introduced the legislation that created the hotline and has overseen its development for years.
Rep. Whiteford talks about her new, bi-partisan legislation, that she will co-sponsor with Dearborn Democrat Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, that will ban the billboard advertising of marijuana products. Rep. Whiteford says a similar ban on billboard tobacco advertising has been in place for decades.
Rep. Whiteford, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee building the $31 billion budget for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for the 2022 Fiscal Year, says the spending plan is seeing a significant infusion of federal dollars while continuing to serve as the state’s safety net.
Rep. Whiteford talks about passage this week of House Bill 4359, which expands the scope of practice for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists to improve patient access to safe anesthesia services. The legislation was part of a bipartisan package of health care reform legislation.