MacGregor pays tribute to outgoing intern

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Pete MacGregor presented outgoing intern Meg Vindischman with a special tribute during Tuesday’s Senate session.

“Meg has been an outstanding addition to my staff over the past semester and she will be missed,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “Meg brought a wide array of skills and strengths, is extremely personable and a joy to be around. These skills helped her communicate with constituents while she completed the important tasks of answering constituent phone calls, emails, and letters.

“I wish her nothing but the best in the future and am confident that she will accomplish any career objective she has set for herself.”

Vindischman, of Oxford, is a junior at Michigan State University studying Criminal Justice. She is heading to Washington, D.C. for the winter semester to intern with the U.S. Department of Justice and Kidsave, a non-profit organization focused on family advocacy.

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Editor’s note: Video of the special tribute presentation is available at SenatorPeterMacGregor.com/Video.

MacGregor’s telehealth bill headed to governor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — A bill that could improve access to health care services in Michigan was finalized by the Michigan Senate on Tuesday and is now headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for signature.

Senate Bill 753 would define telehealth in the state’s health code to encourage medical professionals to utilize modern technologies, like live interactive video, audio and others to connect and communicate with patients remotely, and to also provide patient protections under the law.

“This is a common sense health care reform for a modern age,” said Sen. Pete MacGregor, R-Rockford, the bill sponsor. “Society has never been more connected, yet a patient’s ability to see a medical professional is becoming more and more constrained as hospital wait times grow. This bill would help improve access to care, which could lead to healthier patient outcomes.”

SB 753 defines telehealth in the state health code as the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support or promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, or health administration. Telehealth may include telemedicine, which was established in the state insurance code in 2012.

Under the bill, medical professionals would be permitted to diagnose, prescribe and administer referrals within the existing legal framework when providing telehealth services.

Additionally, like traditional health professional practice, a disciplinary subcommittee may place restrictions or conditions on a health professional’s ability to provide telehealth services.

The bill has received broad support from within the health care community and beyond, including from the U.S. Department of Justice, General Motors, Michigan Association of Health Plans, Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners, Teledoc, Economic Alliance for Michigan, Michigan Manufacturers Association, Spectrum Health, and Ascension Michigan.

“Telehealth could transform health care in Michigan,” MacGregor said. “It allows health care professionals to extend their reach beyond a corner office to meet patients where they are. It enhances access to and use of health care in our state, reduces costs, encourages competition, and, most importantly, could lead to healthier lives.”

SB 753 was unanimously approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives and awaits the governor’s signature.

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MacGregor to host Senior Brigade on identity theft in Byron Township

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Peter MacGregor announced he will host a Michigan Consumer Education Presentation on Monday, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. at the Byron Township Community Center, located at 2120 76th St. SW in Byron Center.

The free event, which is presented by the Office of the Attorney General, will feature two 45-minute presentations on identity theft and phone, mail, and electronic scams, which increasingly threaten communities. No RSVP is required.

Residents interested in attending may review the identity theft handouts related to the presentation at the Attorney General’s website, Michigan.gov/CE.

For more information call 855-347-8028 toll free or email SenPMacGregor@senate.michigan.gov.

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Sen. MacGregor honored as a Legislator of the Year by Michigan Manufacturers Association

LANSING, Mich. – State Sen. Peter MacGregor has been named a recipient of the Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA) Legislator of the Year Award.

“I am honored to have been chosen as one of the MMA’s legislators of the year,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “Manufacturing remains one of our district’s, and the state’s, most important industries, and I will continue to work hard to ensure the industry thrives in our communities.”

The MMA Legislator of the Year Award recognizes legislators for their leadership and dedication to Michigan’s manufacturing sector and their role advocating on behalf of Michigan’s largest job-creating industry.

MacGregor was honored for his vocal leadership on tough issues affecting manufacturing’s future in Michigan.

“Thanks to Senator MacGregor’s drive to reduce health care costs, Michigan manufacturers have more resources to put toward hiring and retaining talent,” said Chuck Hadden, MMA president and CEO. “Michigan is a stronger state and its manufacturing jobs are a more attractive career option thanks to his support of job creators.”

The Legislator of the Year recipients were honored at the 2016 MMA Legislative Reception on Tuesday at the MMA Headquarters in Lansing. The ceremony was attended by manufacturers, legislators, executive branch officials and manufacturing champions and partners from across the state.

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MacGregor comments on budget passage

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, issued the following statement after the Michigan Senate finalized a Fiscal Year 2017 budget plan on Wednesday that increases support for education and public safety and strengthens the state’s finances:

“I was happy to support this budget, which we have once again approved ahead of schedule. It is a responsible, balanced spending plan for our state that makes good investments in key areas, like education, public health and safety, and economic development. The budget also keeps government spending in line, and does not burden hardworking families with any new taxes.

“I am particularly pleased that we were able to invest an additional $60 to $120 in per pupil foundation allowance funding for our K-12 schools, and an additional $39 million for our state universities. We have also expanded the successful Healthy Kids Dental program to now cover all Michiganders under the age of 21, and increased funding to further support private foster care agencies. The budget also provides funding to hire 65 new state police troopers and expanded the Secure Cities program to cover six more communities. More and better jobs are always a goal, and the budget adds more than $5 million to the Skilled Trades Training Fund to help job providers train workers for in-demand opportunities.

“This is a good budget that builds upon the financial foundation we have worked to establish over the past five years to help make Michigan the best place to live and work.”

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MacGregor’s Veterans Ombudsman bill headed to governor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

Sen. Peter MacGregor

LANSING, Mich. — A bill that would establish the Office of the Michigan Veterans’ Facility Ombudsman is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for signing.

“An independent Veterans’ Facility Ombudsman will be able to identify, investigate and recommend fixes for problems at the state’s veterans homes, so our veterans can receive the quality care that they have earned and deserve,” said Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, who sponsored the bill.

Senate Bill 809 would authorize the ombudsman to investigate Michigan veterans’ facilities — the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans — for acts or conditions that allegedly violate law or policy, or that pose significant health or safety issues. The office would be able to inspect a facility at any time, on its own accord or by request, and conduct investigational hearings and subpoena individuals and documents.

The ombudsman would report to the Legislative Council. Following investigations, the ombudsman would be required to produce reports, with recommendations, to the council. Additionally, the ombudsman would be required to submit a semiannual report to the council and the Legislature.

The bill was MacGregor’s third attempt at establishing the ombudsman, and stemmed from audits conducted by the Michigan Office of the Auditor General that revealed problems at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

“I am overjoyed that after years of trying, we were finally able to come together to create the Veterans’ Facility Ombudsman Office,” MacGregor said. “Michigan’s military veterans have given so much in the service of our country, and this legislation will ensure our veterans’ homes are safe and secure places to enjoy their retirement.”

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MacGregor’s Veterans Ombudsman bill approved by committee

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Sen. Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — A bill sponsored by state Sen. Peter MacGregor that would establish the Office of the Michigan Veterans’ Facility Ombudsman was approved by the Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security Committee on Thursday.

The legislation stems from recent audits conducted by the Michigan Office of the Auditor General that revealed a pattern of mismanagement at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

“After years of troubling reports and apparent inaction to correct the problems at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, it is clear something more must be done,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “Since the latest audit, leadership changes have been made within the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and at the home, which is a good step. However, an independent Veterans’ Facility Ombudsman would be better able to identify, investigate and recommend fixes for problems so our veterans can receive the quality care that they have earned and deserve.”

Senate Bill 809 would authorize the ombudsman to investigate Michigan veterans’ facilities — the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans — for acts or conditions that allegedly violate law or policy, or that pose significant health or safety issues. The office would be able to inspect a facility at any time, on its own accord or by request, and conduct investigational hearings and subpoena individuals and documents.

The ombudsman would report to the Legislative Council. Following investigations, the ombudsman would be required to produce reports, with recommendations, to the council. Additionally, the ombudsman would be required to submit a biannual report to the council and the Legislature.

“Michigan’s military veterans devoted their lives in service of our country,” MacGregor said. “We must ensure that they receive the best possible care, and a veterans’ ombudsman will help accomplish that.”

SB 809 now advances to the full Senate for consideration.

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MacGregor: Senate approves plan to cut schools’ ‘red tape’

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday acted to reduce bureaucratic “red tape” by voting to end burdensome reporting requirements schools currently must complete.

Each year, Michigan school districts are mandated to prepare and submit hundreds of reports to state and federal entities. These reports can be time-consuming and tedious to produce and are often redundant or even obsolete by the submission date.

If signed, Senate Bills 754-767 would eliminate unnecessary and redundant reports and streamline the overall reporting requirements.

“We have been working to ensure more resources make it to our state’s classrooms so educators can more effectively do their jobs,” said Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, who sponsored SB 762. “Unfortunately, these reporting requirements often stand in the way of that. By reforming the reporting process, we can reduce the burden on our schools and teachers so they can focus on instructing our students.”

Education reporting requirements are sprinkled throughout Michigan law — not just in the state’s education code. Unfortunately, there is no published comprehensive index to easily locate all mandated reports. These reports are costly, often taking a great deal of staff time and resources.

The plan has received widespread support, especially from local district leaders.

“There is an extensive amount of paperwork involved with completing these reporting requirements, and that takes an extensive amount of human resources,” said Wyoming Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Thomas Reeder. “Even with the help of technology, over the years more and more has been added to the requirements, which has made the process unnecessarily redundant and caused even more work. Those redundancies should be repealed. What we need is a reporting system that efficiently accomplishes these tasks while providing effective data to guide smart decisions.”

The bills, which were introduced in February and previously approved by the Senate Education Committee, now go to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

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Senators to hold hearings on Grand Rapids Home for Veterans after latest audit

LANSING, Mich. – The Senate Oversight and Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security committees will hold hearings on the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans after a new audit conducted by the Michigan Office of the Auditor General revealed a troubling pattern of mismanagement and neglect at the home.

Senators Peter MacGregor and Margaret O’Brien, who chair the respective committees, said legislators will look into the home’s operations to determine what more can be done within the state Legislature to bring accountability and transparency to the home and ensure the best possible care and treatment of the state’s veterans.

“Michigan’s brave military veterans dedicated their lives to serving us, sacrificing time away from their families to defend our freedom and way of life,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “We owe them so much, not the least of which is taking care of our veterans when they return home. What is happening at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans is unacceptable and a disservice to those who served our country. Serious changes must be made.”

The performance audit of the home outlines in detail nine findings where staff –both privately-contracted employees and union and non-union employees that work directly for the state of Michigan – failed to adequately meet obligations to provide care to the home’s members. Many of the problems identified in the latest audit have carried over from a 2013 audit.

The new audit assessed four main objectives: the sufficiency of the home’s provision of member care services; the effectiveness of the home’s administration of pharmaceuticals; the effectiveness of the home’s management of complaints and incidents regarding member care; and the sufficiency of the home’s controls over collection of assessments, donations and member funds.

The auditor’s nine findings indicated:

  1. Staff at the home did not perform regular member location checks 43 percent of the time despite reporting that they had occurred 100 percent. Supervisors approved 17 out of 25 of those false location check sheets. Similarly, fall checks did not happen 33 percent of the time but were reported to have happened 96 percent of the time.
  2. The contractor did not meet staffing requirements 81 percent of the time, and on any given day was short by as many as 22 people.
  3. Staff improperly administered prescribed pharmaceuticals, causing insurance reimbursement inefficiencies and possible quality of care issues. Thirty-nine percent of all nonnarcotic prescriptions were either refilled too late or too early.
  4. Staff did not effectively develop, execute and monitor all veteran comprehensive care plans.
  5. The home did not establish adequate controls over nonnarcotic pharmaceuticals to ensure they were accounted for and protected against loss and misuse.
  6. The home did not bill members’ insurance companies for all eligible prescriptions dispensed and did not follow up on prescriptions that were billed but rejected by insurance companies.
  7. The home did not track or properly investigate or respond to member complaints, including allegations of abuse and neglect.
  8. The home did not implement sufficient controls over the disbursement of funds belonging to veterans who were discharged or passed away, and may not have disbursed funds in a timely manner.
  9. The home did not effectively document and resolve past-due member assessments.

“The latest findings from the state auditor general add to a growing list of issues that have plagued the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans for more than a decade,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “It is clear that supposed internal actions taken by the home to fix these problems haven’t worked. Michiganders and our veterans demand that action be taken to right this wrong as soon as possible.”

The senators noted that recent moves to hire new leadership staff by the Michigan Veteran Health System, which operates within the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and oversees the home, is a positive step but the home’s systemic failures require more action.

“I am very angry and disappointed by the findings of the audit,” O’Brien said. “Our veterans deserve better. Now that the auditor general has identified the causes of the problems at the home we won’t be satisfied until our veterans receive the proper care and treatment they deserve.”

The committees will announce hearings in the coming weeks.

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Bills introduced to cut red tape at Michigan schools

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation introduced at a press conference on Tuesday would help Michigan schools by eliminating unnecessary and redundant reporting requirements and by streamlining the reporting process.

“We focus a lot of attention and effort toward improving Michigan’s education system,” said Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, who sponsored Senate Bill 762 in the 14-bill package. “A key part of those efforts has been to make sure more resources reach the classroom for student instruction. Unfortunately, outdated and burdensome reporting requirements are holding our schools back by distracting school officials from their primary duties of educating our children. These common sense bills will help update the reporting process to make it more efficient and less time consuming so educators can focus more on student achievement.”

Michigan school districts are mandated to prepare and submit hundreds of reports to state and federal entities. These reports can be time-consuming and tedious to produce and are often redundant or even obsolete by the submission date.

Education reporting requirements are not limited to the state’s education code — they litter Michigan law. Unfortunately, there is no published comprehensive index to easily locate all mandated reports. These reports are costly, often taking a great deal of staff time and resources.

In addition to MacGregor, the following senators are sponsors of the bills in the legislative package:

  • Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township (SB 754)
  • Darwin Booher, R-Evart (SBs 756-757)
  • Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton (SB 758)
  • Goeff Hansen, R-Hart (SB 766)
  • Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth (SB 761)
  • Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy (SB 755)
  • Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage (SB 767)
  • Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City (SB 763)
  • Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake (SB 764)
  • Jim Stamas, R-Midland (SBs 759-760)
  • Dale Zorn, R-Ida (SB 765)

SBs 754-767 are expected to be referred to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.

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