Day 1 #RideMI Motorcycle Tour: Peters Visits Oscoda Twp, Harrisville

HARRISVILLE, MI – On Day One of his #RideMI Motorcycle tour, U.S. Senator Gary Peters visited Alcona Health Centers’ Oscoda Clinic to see firsthand the benefits of telemedicine in Northern Michigan. He then toured the Harrisville Harbor of Refuge to discuss the importance of Great Lakes conservation and research efforts to support Michigan’s commercial fishing and tourism industries.

At Alcona Health Center’s Oscoda Clinic, Peters received a demonstration of their new psychiatric telehealth services, which connects mental health patients with health care professionals for psychiatric evaluation and medication management. Last year, Peters introduced bipartisan legislation that would expand access to health care in rural areas by paving the way for Medicare to cover additional telehealth services.

“Residents in Northern Michigan and other rural communities are often forced to travel great distances to receive health care or face difficulty finding a physician to treat their condition, ” said Senator Peters. “Telemedicine has the potential revolutionize the way health care services are delivered, and I appreciate the opportunity to see how the Alcona Health Center is using this innovative technology to help support mental health patients. I will continue working to expand telehealth services, which could improve patient outcomes, save money and ensure access to care for all people regardless of their zip code.”


“Telehealth is improving the lives of thousands of Michiganders who face mobility issues or live in rural areas of North Michigan,” said Christine Baumgardner, CEO of Alcona Health Center. “I am pleased that Senator Peters visited Alcona Health Center’s Oscoda clinic today to see the work we’re doing with telehealth to support our mental health patients, who need regular care to maintain healthy lives. I thank Senator Peters for his efforts to increase access to this innovative technology that is saving lives, time and money.”


Currently, Medicare covers limited telehealth services, setting a poor industry standard, discouraging innovation, and restricting access to specialized services. Last year, Senator Peters introduced the bipartisan Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act that would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allow eligible hospitals to test telehealth services through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). Additionally, it directs CMMI to review and independently evaluate telehealth models for cost, effectiveness, and improvement in quality of care without increasing the cost of delivery. If the telehealth model meets this criteria, then the model will be covered through the greater Medicare program.


Peters then traveled to Harrisville, where he toured the Harrisville Harbor of Refuge with Harbor Manager Jim Ferguson and Harrisville Mayor John Dobis and discuss legislation he introduced to support the $7 billion Great Lakes sport and fishery industry. As one of Lake Huron’s harbors of refuge, it supports fishing, tourism and recreation.


“The Great Lakes are an ecological and economic treasure for our state and our country, and facilities like the Harrisville Harbor of Refuge are critical to driving commerce and tourism” said Senator Peters. “As a member of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, I am committed to protecting the diverse Great Lakes ecosystem and ensuring federal policies take into account the unique importance of world’s largest freshwater system.”


“Our mission statement is ‘Providing Lake Huron mariners with safe haven, uncompromising amenities, and the contentment of the North.’ I hope during his visit that Senator Peters found us to be living up to that commitment,” said Harbormaster Jim Ferguson. “On behalf of the mayor, the harbor commission, and the city of Harrisville, I’d like to thank Senator Peters for touring today and for his ongoing efforts to protect the Great Lakes, so they can continue to serve as a great resource for all Michiganders as well as for our state’s growing tourism industry and economy.”


Earlier this year, Peters introduced bicameral, bipartisan legislation that would give the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) the clear legislative authority it needs to help close the resource gap between the Great Lakes Science Center and other fishery research centers across the country. Despite the size of the Great Lakes and the value of the fishery, the Great Lakes science program does not have comparable funding authorizations as science centers on saltwater coasts. The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act will provide better federal funding opportunities to update technologies and create new research projects that benefit local economies.


Tomorrow, Senator Peters will head to Crawford, Clare, and Osceola Counties for the second day of his #RideMI motorcycle tour.