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New legislation to require regular updates on state-run veteran homes’ health care issues

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A new Michigan law signed Wednesday requires the state legislature receive quarterly updates regarding veterans' health care in state facilities.

The House Bill 5639, now Public Act 314, is a direct response to the scathing February audit and loved ones' and veterans' testimony depicting conditions at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans including: low staffing, workers failing to check on patients, and further claims of abuse and neglect like failing to promptly refill prescriptions.

The legislation requires the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency or the Department of Military Veterans Affairs to provide legislative reports on health care issues at the state's two facilities: the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette.

Now the race for a Muskegon County seat in the House of Representatives is heating up with one of its central issues is care for our veterans.

"That's our goal is to make sure we have constant, consistent good care for our veterans," said Rep. Holly Huges, R - Montague.

Hughes sponsored HB 5639, which is one of several pieces of legislation working to improve veterans' health care statewide.

"Having better transparency and more reporting is always a good thing, but if we are simply making a report to make ourselves feel better about past actions that were taken, that were happening at the home, then I really kind of question is this just more big government," said Rep. Candidate Collene Lamonte, D - Montague, who was the former incumbent from 2013-2014.

Former state Rep. Lamonte is running to win back her seat from Rep. Hughes and says Hughes should not take credit for these improvements, pointing to Hughes' vote for a budget cut to veterans affairs in 2011 which she says lead to the privatization of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. Hughes says otherwise.

“Any time you’ve got greater transparency it’s a good thing," said Lamonte. "But I think it’s an attempt by my opponent to try to make up for her mistakes and voting for the privatization in the first place.”

“Actually it was a budget bill in '11 and the privatization did not take place while I was there, it actually took place in '13, and there was a budget bill for that then too, and [Lamonte] voted the same way," said Hughes in response.

Both Hughes and Lamonte call for using a small amount of the state budget to draw federal dollars for veterans' benefits alongside further actions.

“Our goal is you have healthcare facilities everywhere, so the Michigan Veterans Choice Card should be able to use wherever you need to seek medical help for our veterans," said Hughes.

“We need to look at getting the certified nurse assistants hired back at good pay that they are going to feel like they are a participating member and taking care of the veterans at the home," said Lamonte.

This newly signed legislation requiring quarterly updates is one of several pieces of legislation working to improve veterans' health care at state facilities. Earlier this year new legislation now instated an Office of the Michigan Veterans Facility Ombudsman in the Legislative Council to investigate health care complaints among other tasks. Additionally there is a package of bills currently introduced which work in part to expand state-run veterans' homes in Michigan.

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2 comments

  • Mac Zeff

    “Hughes sponsored HB 5639, which is one of several pieces of legislation working to improve veterans’ health care statewide.

    “Having better transparency and more reporting is always a good thing, but if we are simply making a report to make ourselves feel better about past actions that were taken, that were happening at the home, then I really kind of question is this just more big government,” said Rep. Candidate Collene Lamonte, D – Montague, who was the former incumbent from 2013-2014″

    WHAT is not being said here, is that this bill was NOT Supposed to go to the governor until AFTER the elections., so that the Senate could go over it and give the public a chance to voice their concerns. The chance for the public to do so was taken from them by the Republican party who circumvented the Senate process.. As for Holly Hughes, where has she been the last few years? We never see her at the vets home, yet shes taking credit for this bill? Can you say Liar, Hypocrite, or worse? And why is Winnie Brinks, (D) whose district includes the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans been shut out of the processes?

    Lot going on that is NOT transparent and its the republicans who are responsible for it NOT being transparent.

  • dana kumbahealth

    After seeing the continuous downfall of the healthcare system, the company that I work for has decided that it is time to make a change and make healthcare more about the consumer and their actual health, and less about money guzzling insurance companies. I agree that taking the time to complete regular updates on the healthcare conditions for veterans is a great way to increase transparency, however, as mentioned in the article, there needs to be more done to actually fix the problem. Countless people, including veterans, are kept from receiving the healthcare that they deserve because of money driven insurance companies. To shift this focus from corporations to the actual consumer, Kumba has created an online healthcare system that eliminates insurance companies completely and successfully incorporates technology and healthcare. With it’s online marketplace of providers and easy online booking and transparent pay, healthcare is made easy and affordable for patients.

    Here’s how we think about Kumba Health. For those with high deductible insurance plans, healthcare doesn’t work like it used to. 100M Americans with high deductible insurance will go out of pocket more than $420B this year (staggering, right?). Making this more interesting is the fact that the millennials are entering the healthcare market for the first time (meaning getting off their parents’ policies) and tend to use the internet for everything, plus the growth of the so called 1099 economy. And remember, there are still millions of Americans without insurance, despite the ACA.

    Consumers now need a better way to “shop” for their healthcare, now that they are the ones increasingly footing the bill. We created Kumba Health as an online marketplace of direct pay providers for exactly this reason. And what makes it work so well, is that providers covet this very patient (almost universally, doctors want to reallocate their patient portfolio away from insurance plans towards direct pay).

    Kumba currently consists of a variety of providers, including physicians, imaging centers, and labs around the Los Angeles area, and is quickly expanding throughout California (and then the country!). For a low monthly membership fee, providers can introduce their practice to the exact customer they most want – direct pay. What they do with all their spare time (due to not having to deal with insurance) is up to them.

    This is not a sales pitch, but information towards a possible solution to the popular topic of poor healthcare. If you’d like to learn more, here are some quick links that provide more information.
    • From the consumer’s perspective: vimeo/143095250
    From the provider’s perspective: vimeo/133493268

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