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Board to consider resolution in support of MI Choice Program

MARQUETTE — A resolution to protect the MI Choice Program will be considered by the Marquette County Board of Commissioners.

The board will hold its meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in room 231 of the Henry A. Skewis Annex, located along Baraga Avenue in Marquette.

The MI Choice Program has been operating since 1988 and is a long-term care, in-home services program for residents of the U.P. Administered by the Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress, the program uses a network of service providers such as private service agencies, community action agencies, commissions on aging and county agencies.

The Senate recently passed Senate Bill 135 which would require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to transition those receiving home and community-based care to long-term services and support programs administered by a for-profit health insurance company.

The MI Choice Program has a 98% satisfaction rating and, if closed, the U.P. would be the only region in the state that doesn’t give residents a choice in their care, and all residents including existing program participants would have to receive their care from a for-profit insurance company, the resolution states.

When given a choice between the for-profit insurance company and the MI Choice program “95% of the clients opted not to have their care provided by the insurance company, but instead by MI Choice,” according to the resolution.

If the resolution to protect the MI Choice Program is approved at the meeting, the county would oppose the bill and request the U.P. be removed from the pilot, which would allow the program to continue to provide residents choice in their care.

The board will also consider a resolution to preserve the public mental health program at its Tuesday meeting.

Section 298 of the Executive Budget recommendations for 2020 invalidates the actions of Community Mental Health Service Programs “to create a regional entity under section 330.204b of the Michigan Mental Health Code,” according to the resolution.

The passing of 298 would eliminate public specialty mental health services provided for people in the 15 counties of the U.P.

If passed, the resolution would state that Marquette County opposes Section 298 and encourages the prevention of it becoming law.

In addition, the board will consider bids for the replacement of the central heating system that was installed in the county jail in 1972.

“This system has heated 100,000 (square feet) of building (jail and annex) for more than 40 years and requires replacement. Over the years, the boilers and distribution piping have been failing due to age and run time,” board documents state.

Three bids were received for the project, which will be funded by the Severance Tax Reserve Fund.

Staff recommends going with UP Engineers & Architects Inc., which provided the lowest bid at nearly $37,900.

At the Tuesday meeting, the board will also consider the need for interjurisdictional cooperation to enhance public alerting capabilities, a formal lease agreement between the county and the city of Marquette for a parking lot located at the corner of Baraga Avenue and Third Street, and a request for capital funds to purchase a zero-turn mower for the maintenance of Perkins Park and Campground. The board will also examine the proposed replacement of the county email system, the purchase of a new vactor truck tank for K.I. Sawyer, a request for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians to act as a pass-through agency for funds requested from various agencies and an application for appointment to the Marquette County Solid Waste Authority Board.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243.