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Michigan House unveils COVID-19 relief plan that will enhance access to treatments

It's a $1.2 billion spending plan funded entirely by federal COVID relief dollars.

LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan House plan unveiled Wednesday aims to provide more access to COVID-19 treatments and more. 

It's a $1.2 billion spending plan funded entirely by federal COVID relief dollars.

There's three highlights to the plan: Strengthening hospitals, expanding COVID-19 treatment, and keeping students healthy and schools open.

Under the Michigan house proposal, $134 million would buy and ramp up distribution of monoclonal antibodies, and other treatments coming soon.

Rep. Julie Calley, (R) District 87, Portland said they've received positive feedback about the treatments.

"I found the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in August said the goal was for 50% of eligible high risk Michiganders who tested positive for COVID 19 to receive monoclonal within 10 days of symptom onset," Calley said. "They have proven to reduce hospitalizations as well as death. And in order to better protect Michigan, we really want to see this movement expanded."

The House Appropriations Committee believes delivery of the treatment is bottlenecked at short-staffed hospitals so their plan will expand delivery to eight additional sites across Michigan. 

Rep. Rachel Hood, (D) District 76, Grand Rapids said she supports the investment but wanted to make sure tax dollars are well spent.

"I think the Regeneron to drug cocktail monoclonal antibody treatment costs about $1250 per infusion, and a vaccine is $40," Hood stated. 

"The monoclonal infusions actually can be used on a person who is vaccinated," Calley responded. "So if they have been vaccinated, but are still vulnerable under these conditions, it's an added layer of support, so almost adding another shield. 

In addition, the House plan aims to ease the healthcare worker shortage by setting aside $300 million for recruitment and retention, and additional support for nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Lastly, about $667 million would be allocated for COVID testing overall, including $300 million for rapids testing and screening in schools. 

The first vote on this plan might be as early as next week in the House Appropriations Committee. After that, it would go the full House of Representatives for consideration.

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