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Rep. Whiteford supports plan to ensure access to early treatment options for COVID-19
RELEASE|December 15, 2021

Rep. Mary Whiteford, vice chair of the Appropriations Committee, today joined the Michigan House in approving plans to expand the state’s capacity to provide early treatment for COVID-19 patients and address a critical shortage of health care workers, along with several other important initiatives closing the books on the state’s most recently completed fiscal year.

“It was recently unveiled that Michigan has the highest number of COVID deaths in the nation, and there’s no doubt in my mind that better and earlier access to monoclonal antibody treatments could have prevented many of those deaths. We must do all we can to ensure patients recover more quickly,” said Whiteford, of Casco Township. “Since April, when my husband fell severely ill to COVID, I have been fighting for better access to monoclonal antibody treatments here in Michigan. The plan we approved today will ensure better access to that treatment, as well as other early treatment options that may come about in the coming weeks and months.”

House Bill 5523 includes more than $1 billion in federal COVID relief funds already available to the state. The measure 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. Currently, delivery is bottlenecked at short-staffed hospitals – the House plan will expand delivery to eight additional sites across Michigan. The measure also includes $300 million for health care employee recruitment and retention, and $90 million to support vaccinations.

House Bill 4398 authorizes remaining federal COVID funds that must be allocated now based on federal requirements and cannot be used for other purposes. It also provides some discretionary funding while closing the books for the state’s 2021 fiscal year. This measure is expected to head to the governor’s desk for consideration soon.

Combined, the two bills will provide $300 million in additional funding for COVID testing in schools. Half of the funding is authorized through House Bill 4398, and the other half is contained in House Bill 5523. Intermediate school districts will play a key role in testing kit redistribution if it is needed.

House Bill 4398 includes COVID-related funds for rental assistance, support of families, mental health and nursing homes. The measure includes $36 million for state response to environmental health threats, along with money for airports and several other projects across Michigan.

The plan now moves to the Senate for its consideration.

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