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Bills would allow medical workers with out-of-state licenses to help relieve shortage

MedicAlert UK on Unsplash

The Michigan Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a bill to help relieve a health care worker shortage by temporarily recognizing out-of-state professional licenses.

Senator Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) chairs the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee. He said every hospital system in the state is short-staffed and workers are stressed.

“They’re burning the candle at both ends,” he said. “We’re just trying to help them a little but so they don’t burn out.”

His bill would recognize out-of-state licenses until the COVID health care crisis has passed. Then, the previous licensing rules would be reinstated.

“Our hospital systems are overwhelmed. COVID patients are a big part of it,” he said. “Basically, what we’re trying to do is open up any avenue we can to allow health care professionals to help us through this situation brought on by COVID and the pandemic.”

The bill has bipartisan support and cleared the health policy committee unanimously. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has taken a neutral position on the bill. If it’s adopted by the Senate, the next stop would be the state House.

VanderWall said he’d like to have the bill sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer before the Legislature’s winter break. If not, he said it will be a top priority when the Legislature reconvenes in 2022.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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