LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – On Tuesday, members of the Michigan House of Representatives introduced legislation as an attempt to address the statewide shortage of medical personnel by amending certain licensing requirements. 

As part of a bipartisan effort, Reps. Dave Prestin (R-Cedar River) and John Fitzgerald (D-Wyoming) offered a plan which would permit an extension of temporary licenses for medical first responders including emergency medical technicians (EMT), emergency medical technician specialists and paramedics.

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“Our plan would help reduce critical shortages of much-needed medical personnel to serve as EMTs and paramedics by keeping them working and properly supervised during their licensing process,” Prestin said. “The Michigan Health and Hospital Association reports the state has lost up to 1,700 hospital beds since 2020 due to lack of staffing. This problem needs fixing, and I’m happy to deliver a practical, bipartisan solution.”

Other attempts to address nursing shortages were criticized by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA), including a package of bills seeking to reduce nurses mandatory overtime requirements. 

“Michigan hospitals are trying to fill 8,500 job openings for nurses,” Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, and Kim Meeker, RN, BSN, MBA, president of the Michigan Organization for Nursing Leadership (MONL) said in a statement in regards to the bill package. “Instituting a one-size-fits-all mandate requiring hospitals hire more nurses who do not currently exist will limit the services hospitals can offer to their communities, prolong the time it takes for a patient to receive care and hinder the ability of hospitals to respond to a crisis in fear of violating Michigan law” 

The bills would ensure that anyone with a temporary license may only perform work duties while under the direct supervision of an individual who has a permanent license of at least the same level of the temporary license according to Representative Prestin. For example,  temporarily licensed EMTs may be directly supervised by either a permanently licensed EMT or Paramedic. However, a temporarily licensed paramedic may only be supervised by a permanently licensed paramedic.  The current period of a temporary license from its current 90 day limit to twelve months. 

Rep. Prestin has experience serving as a fully licensed paramedic at Aurora Bay Area Medical, an active first responder for Mid County Rescue 114, and a volunteer for the Cedarville Township Volunteer Fire Department. 

“Having served as a first responder in various capacities over the past 13-plus years, I know firsthand how important it is to address and fix the statewide shortage of medical personnel,” Prestin said in a statement. “Our plan would do just that, by simply allowing qualified professionals to continue to do their job. While medical resources are insufficient throughout the state, they are especially scarce in the Upper Peninsula. I am proud to deliver a common-sense reform to help improve access to first responder care across the state.”

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The House Committee on Regulatory Reform will consider House Bills 4613 and 4614 in the coming weeks.