95.3 / 88.5 FM Grand Rapids and 95.3 FM Muskegon
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Crain's Grand Rapids Business Brief

Crain's Grand Rapids Business

* End of Public Health Emergency & health benefits
* Legislation drafted impacting nurse practitioners
* GR top market for millennials purchasing homes

Patrick Center: Wednesday afternoon. Time for our bi-monthly conversation with Crain’s Grand Rapids Business, senior reporter Mark Sanchez. A lot going on. The end of the public health emergency. And this, as you are reporting, is affecting health benefits.

Mark Sanchez: Yeah, you know, it's finally here. We've been living this for more than three years now. You know, a couple weeks ago we talked about the hospital's ending their mask mandates. Now, here we did a story here are last week for Crain’s Grand Rapids Business that the end of the federal public health emergency is coming here in a little more than a week, or in a week, on May 11th. And what is being called the employers out there? Well, basically in a nutshell, everything resets back to prior to the pandemic for many of your health benefits. During this, there's been zero co-pays on COVID testing and vaccines and the government's been funding some of that vaccine. And the health benefits basically go back to the prior to the pandemic days and folks when they get tested, they feel ill, and they get tested for COVID. There's going to be a regular co-pay on that test now. Same as deductibles. The health plans have been eating a lot of those costs and now those co-pays and those deductibles will apply. And those out-of-pocket costs were really waved basically during the public health emergency to make sure there was no financial barrier for somebody. If they got sick, they felt they were sick and had, or wanted to get tested or that he wanted the vaccine for treatment to make sure that at least the financial barriers were removed during the pandemic. So bottom line, once again, things are kind of going back, in terms of health benefits, with the end of the public health emergency going back to what they were more than three years ago.

Patrick Center: We'll stick with health care. There is some legislation that is impacting nurse practitioners. I will let you walk us through this.

Mark Sanchez: For so many years, nurse practitioners, physician assistants have been taking on more that roll of and basic primary care. If you go in for something for a minor ailment or something minor, chances are there's a P.A. or nurse practitioner you’ll see now because we have a shortage of primary care physicians in Michigan and all over America for that matter. But here’s legislation that has returned basically, it was tried last time did not gain some traction in the legislature, but now it's back here this month. It's introduced by Senator Jeff Irwin. He's out of Ann Arbor. Basically, would allow nurse practitioners to practice to the full scope of their training without having to secure a contract with a supervising physician. The thought is in this legislation it would allow nurse practitioners to do more without securing that contract. As Senator Irwin said when he roll this out a little bit ago, he said sometimes that overseeing physician is not even in the same building or in the same market or even seeing that patient. So, it's a way that the proponents say can really hopefully help ease some of the shortage of physicians by allowing nurse practitioners to practice at their full scope and take on more of those duties and ease some of that pressure in the pipeline for folks who need to see a doctor put it kicked in. And this is especially true in rural markets that have a lot of difficulty really hard time recruiting physicians to rural markets. So, the hope is that nurse practitioners by allowing them full scope of practice can fill more of that void.

Patrick Center: Are there some concerns with this idea?

Mark Sanchez: Yes, mostly from the Michigan State Medical Society that worries about quality patient safety. Legitimate issues that the Legislature's going to have to work through. And, you know, the medical society has an influential voice in Lansing. It represents about 15,000 physicians in the state. So, it's got a voice and it set the table. So that's going up to get worked out, whether it can, we'll see how it goes as this legislation moves through the legislature. But it also, there's a lot of organizations that do support the bill, including the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. Some organizations representing nurses and nurse practitioners, Association of Health Plans, that’s the association representing HMOs in Michigan. So, there's a lot of support. But there is some concerns, mostly from the medical society, how is this going to affect patient safety and quality.

Patrick Center: We're talking with Crain’s Grand Rapids Business senior writer Mark Sanchez. We know that the housing market is tight. That values are high.

We've got interest rates that are impacting buying. Grand Rapids it turns out is a top market for millennials buying homes.

Mark Sanchez: This is interesting. This is a story my coworker here at Crain’s Grand Rapids Business did this week, Rachel Watson together with Nick Manes over the Detroit office. And they really looked at some data from an Apartment List report. That's an organization that looked at census data and current home ownership rate across generations. And Grand Rapids as of 2022 was right there at the top of the list of metro areas of 1 million residents or more for millennial ownership at 63%. This is kind of interesting because remember back a number of years ago coming out of the Great Recession, one of the things you saw is this generation wasn't buying a lot of homes coming over that period. They weren’t buying a lot of cars either. So, this is the generation born between 1981 and 1996. So, for a period there, that generation you didn't see a lot of home buying there because of a number of factors. But now as folks who kind of grown

and gotten older, that generation is now much more of a force in the U.S. economy and we're seeing it here. And this data for the millennial generation, 63% now own their homes here in Grand Rapids.

Patrick Center: What is it about millennials in this market compared to other markets? Why here?

Mark Sanchez: We've done pretty well here economically for a number of years in Grand Rapids and when there's economic opportunity there's economic activity. So, we're seeing that play out through this type of data and this particular generation beginning to buy homes and move into home ownership.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.