A local lawmaker has again been appointed chair of the House Health Policy Committee, listing mental health, opioids and rising costs as top priorities.

Republican State Representative Hank Vaupel of Handy Township has been appointed by House Speaker Lee Chatfield to serve as chair of the House Health Policy Committee for a second time. The Committee is responsible for deliberating on issues related to public health, health professionals, mental health and wellness, and overall access to health care. Vaupel, who is now in his third and final term, previously held the position of chair from 2017 to 2018. Last term, his priorities for the committee were largely centered on improving Michigan’s broken mental health care system, and he hopes to continue that trend this term.

Vaupel says they made great strides last year through the work of the C.A.R.E.S. Mental Health Task Force, which traveled across the state to hear from industry professionals and experts, law enforcement and families of those with mental health care needs. He says much was done to improve access to hospital beds, allow canine support for victims testifying in courtrooms, improve training for counselors and address the opioid crisis but there is still more to do and he looks forward to continuing their efforts. In addition to mental health care improvements and tackling the opioid crisis, Vaupel hopes to address the rising cost of health care. He says it’s important that workers, families and seniors across the state have access to quality health care at a rate they can afford.

Meanwhile for other assignments, Vaupel was also appointed to serve as a member of the Insurance, Education and Tax Policy Committees. (JM)