Public Policy Advocacy
2014 Legislative Priorities

1 in 26 Americans
will have epilepsy over the course of their lifetime.  Nearly three million children and adults in the United States have epilepsy.  Epilepsy is defined as an enduring predisposition to seizures after having at least one seizure and can develop at any stage of life.  Children and the elderly are particularly affected.  At least 100,000 people in Michigan suffer from a seizure disorder.  About 30 percent, or 30,000, are children.

Epilepsy can result from a variety of causes including head trauma, brain tumor, stroke, infection, neurodegenerative disorders -- including Alzheimer’s disease, genetic predisposition, and poisoning.  Often no cause is identified.  The effects of epilepsy vary widely from individual to individual and often create medical, economic, and social hardship.  Epilepsy and seizures can affect anyone from any age, ethnic background, or gender -- everyone is at risk of developing seizures or epilepsy. 

The Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, founded in 1948, is a separately incorporated affiliate of the national Epilepsy Foundation.  Our role in the fight against epilepsy is an important one, and as such, we maintain a blueprint to success to help us maintain course.  Here are our legislative priorities for 2014:

 Assure Access to Care for People with Epilepsy, especially Medications and Specialty Care

The Epilepsy Foundation has worked at the national level to promote and implement the new provisions contained in the Affordable Care Act that benefit people living with epilepsy.  Of particular concern is access to appropriate care and to treatments that are best for the patient.

The Affordable Care Act delegated authority to define the Essential Health Benefit to states, and Michigan has selected Priority Health HMO as the state benchmark plan.  Priority Health will serve as Michigan’s benchmark plan for 2 years (2014 and 2015).  There are 10 Essential Health Benefit categories – 2 of them are mental health and substance abuse disorder services (including behavioral health treatment) and prescription drugs.  Rehabilitative/habilitative services are another category.  The Essential Health Benefit must meet federal mental health parity standards.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan urges the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial to pursue stronger benefit requirements and conduct a thorough review of formularies to meet the needs of those living with serious chronic conditions and disabilities.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, with other advocates, will be monitoring how these Essential Health Benefits are administered in Michigan – and how people with epilepsy may be faring with their insurers - over the next 2 years. 

Treat Mental Health Conditions like Other Health Conditions (Mental Health Parity) 

Persons living with epilepsy may find themselves dealing with mental illness, and they may be more likely than other people to experience emotional changes.  Studies show that up to 60 percent of people living with epilepsy are also living with a mood disorder. The legislature recently adopted legislation to cover services for those on the autism spectrum, many of whom have seizures.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan urges legislators to support parity coverage for all mental disorders.

Seek Changes in Driving while Intoxicated Law (PA 543 of 2012)

Last year, changes were made in the State’s "operating a vehicle while intoxicating” law that included virtually any drug in the US Pharmacopeia.  This would include all drugs used to treat epilepsy and mental illness among others.  This law could discourage patients from complying with their medication regimes which could have devastating consequences.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan urges changes in the statue so that persons driving with medications if prescribed pharmaceuticals are not at risk of impaired driving charges.

Reinstate Motor Cycle Helmet Laws to Prevent Epilepsy

The Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan supports the maintenance and enforcement of helmet and seatbelt laws which saves lives and health care dollars by preventing traumatic brain injuries and the epilepsy often associated with such injuries. 

On the one year anniversary, studies showed that Michigan, like other states who have rescinded their mandatory motorcycle laws, saw an increase in fatalities and injuries related to lack of helmet wearing. We urge riders to wear helmets and other protective gear, and to learn more about safety. 

The Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan supports any legislation that would restore mandatory motorcycle helmets in Michigan

Increase the Number of School Nurses in Michigan

Michigan ranks as having the lowest number of school nurses per pupils in the nation.  It is estimated that nearly 1 in 5 children and youth have some type of chronic health condition; nearly half of whom could be considered disabled.  School nurses are part of the solution and provide an important safety need for our vulnerable children and adolescents.  Schools are struggling to meet the needs of students with chronic conditions, including epilepsy, leaving many families struggling to keep their children healthy, in school, and ready to learn.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan supports efforts that would lead to an increase in the number of school nurses in Michigan 


 Our Public Policy Advocacy Programs
 
Legislative Breakfast
The Foundation also sponsors an annual Legislative Breakfast each spring in Lansing. The purpose of the breakfast is to provide a forum for individuals affected by epilepsy to meet with their legislators and to discuss some of their public policy concerns. The Foundation updates attendees on our public policy recommendations and provides coaching to help them express their concerns. Priority issues for the breakfast often focus on access to health care, medication, physician specialists, and employment. 
 
Speak Up Speak Out
Use this tool to join our network of Speak Up Speak Out advocates. Becoming part of this growing grassroots advocacy group ensures that you are kept up-to-date on issues that affect the 100,000 people with epilepsy and their families living in Michigan.