Senate OKs Hansen bill establishing parity for oral oncology drugs

Sen. Goeff Hansen

Sen. Goeff Hansen

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Wednesday passed legislation that could guarantee thousands of Michigan residents have access to the most effective chemotherapy treatment to fight their cancer.

Senate Bill 492, sponsored by Sen. Goeff Hansen, would ensure that health insurance plans cover oral chemotherapy drugs in the same way intravenously or injected anticancer treatments are covered.

“Some of the best new therapies for certain forms of cancer now are in pill form,” said Hansen, R-Hart. “Unfortunately, there is inequity in the way different cancer treatments are covered by insurance, and oral chemotherapy medicine is often prohibitively expensive for patients. SB 492 would change that.”

Hansen said medical necessity — not convenience — is the reason physicians prescribe oral chemotherapies; some cancers, such as blood cancer, can be treated only by oral chemotherapy.

If oral chemotherapy is prescribed, health insurance plans currently require patients to pay expensive prescription co-pays that are often thousands of dollars more than IV drugs simply because this treatment comes in pills.

“The co-pay for oral chemotherapy is costing up to $5,000 a month,” Hansen said. “My measure helps ensure equitable access to all necessary treatment options.”

If signed into law, SB 492 would bring Michigan up to speed with 43 other states that have enacted similar oral chemotherapy access laws.

The bill now heads to the state House for further consideration.

Note: Audio of Sen. Hansen discussing SB 492 is available by selecting Audio under the Media Center tab, above.

Governor signs Hansen’s bill reducing medical costs for local governments

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed Sen. Goeff Hansen’s legislation that will reduce costs for local units of government participating in a public employer pooled plan (PEPP).

“By lowering costs, Public Act 55 of 2017 is good both for local governments and for public employees,” said Hansen, R-Hart.

Hansen said the reduced costs are largely due to the new law lowering the minimum cash reserve amount that must be held by a mature PEPP. A mature PEPP is a pooled plan that has operated for at least five years.

In addition, under the new law, a pooled plan would no longer be able to meet the reserve requirement with a letter of credit.

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Sen. Hansen presents tribute to Hart fire captain

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, (left) presented a Senate tribute on Thursday to Hart Area Fire Department Captain Tim Tubbs for a heroic rescue during a fire last December.

Tubbs rescued Vietnam War veteran John Varenhorst from his second-floor apartment at Parkview Manor Apartments during a fire on Dec. 16, 2016. The massive fire destroyed two apartment buildings and injured six people.

Tubbs’ wife Susie joined him at the presentation.

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Sen. Hansen welcomes Hart pastor to Senate session

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, (left) welcomed to the Michigan Capitol on Tuesday the Rev. Dennis Hintz of Elbridge Community Church in Hart along with his wife Debbie and mother Jean. Hintz gave the invocation before the start of Senate session.

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Lawmakers introduce bills to improve representation on Grape and Wine Industry Council

Sen. Goeff Hansen

Sen. Goeff Hansen

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, and Reps. Brandt Iden, R-Oshtemo, and Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township, have introduced legislation that would change the makeup of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council so that it would more accurately reflect the industry.

Senate Bill 439 and House Bill 4667 (Iden) would change the name of the council to the “Michigan Craft Beverage Council.” Under the bills, the number of members on the council would be reduced from 12 to 10 and would include representatives from breweries and distilleries.

“The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, which has been a tremendous asset to the grape and wine industry over the years, receives some of its funding from renewal fees from brewers, small distillers and brewpubs — which currently do not benefit from the council’s support,” Hansen said.

“Like winemakers, these brewers and distillers depend on productive harvests to produce quality products. They help support the council, so they should have a seat at the table and receive the benefits of membership.”

Under the legislation, the director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture would serve as the chairperson of the council and as a non-voting member. The governor would appoint nine voting members to three-year terms. These members would include:

•    An individual who operates a retail food establishment that holds a Specially Designated Merchant license and sells Michigan wine or beer;
•    An individual who operates a restaurant that holds a Class C license and serves Michigan wine;
•    Two winemakers;
•    A winemaker that manufactures wine made from fruit other than grapes;
•    A large brewer (brews at least 60,000 and not more than 100,000 barrels per year);
•    An individual who holds a brewpub license;
•    A small distiller; and
•    A distiller who manufactures more than 60,000 gallons of spirits per year.

Hansen said the legislation would prohibit the council from lobbying, and it would require the council to prepare and approve an annual budget; apply for and receive Pure Michigan grants; and establish educational partnerships to benefit the beer, wine and spirits industries.

“Exactly half of the new council’s budget will be designated both for grants for research on growing and planting, and also for financial aid programs for growing desirable varieties of fruit, barley, or hops,” Hansen said. “This will help ensure financial accountability in the council’s work.”

Iden spoke about the importance of improving representation on the council.

“The craft beverage industry is a pivotal part of Michigan’s economy,” Iden said. “We need to ensure that the council has the ability to help lead industry growth.”

SB 440 and HB 4668 (Kesto) would enable the Liquor Control Commission to deposit money into a fund for the Michigan Craft Beverage Council.

Hansen has previously served as chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. He has been a strong proponent of agri-business and Michigan’s wine industry, having led the way for small winemakers to sell their wines and provide tastings at farmers markets.

SBs 439 and 440 have been referred to the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee. HBs 4667 and 4668 have been referred to the House Regulatory Reform Committee.

Photo Advisory: Sen. Hansen and guest honor Michigan’s fallen soldiers

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, (right) and Steve Johnson paid tribute in the Senate Thursday to those who gave their lives defending our country.

Johnson, an Air Force veteran who served from 1971-1977, was the lawmaker’s guest for the Michigan Senate’s 23rd Annual Memorial Day Service. Each year, the ceremony honors the service members who fought with bravery to defend our nation’s freedom.

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Hansen hosts Asparagus Queen

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, welcomed 2016 Asparagus Queen Mary Harris, Asparagus Queen First Runner-Up Mandy Achterhof and National Asparagus Queen Coordinator Christine Rickard to the Capitol on Wednesday.

Harris promoted the asparagus industry of Oceana County and provided each senator with a gift of locally grown asparagus. Rockwell Farms of Hart donated the 50 pounds of asparagus for the occasion.

The National Asparagus Festival hosts an annual pageant in Hart, where the only asparagus queen in the nation is crowned. The visit was one of Harris’ final appearances of her reign as queen.

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Photo Advisory: Sen. Hansen welcomes Fremont pastor to Senate session

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, welcomed to the Michigan Capitol on Wednesday the Rev. Sahaya Stanly of All Saints Catholic Church in Fremont. Stanly gave the invocation before the start of Senate session.

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Photo Advisory: Hansen and VanSingel meet with area students at Capitol

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, and Rep. Scott VanSingel, R-Grant, met with more than 50 students from Hart Middle School and Shelby Middle School at the Capitol on Tuesday. Teachers Andrew Patterson and Eric Jensen brought the students for the schools’ annual visit to the Capitol.

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Photo Advisory: Sen. Hansen and colleagues recognize conservation efforts by Whitehall Middle School students

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, and colleagues stand in the Senate chamber on Thursday in honor of National Skip the Straw Day, held every year on the fourth Friday in February.

A student group at Whitehall Middle School known as the Coral Keepers — along with their advisor, Susan Tate — founded National Skip the Straw Day this year to encourage Americans to “give up the straw habit” and to help spread awareness about the damage caused by disposable plastic straws.

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Pictured, from left: Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek; Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive; Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake; Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland; Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton; Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart; Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy.