OSCODA — The Iosco County Board of Commissioners voted to pass a resolution to move to the full board for possible adoption in early April, showing their lack of support for efforts to privatize public utilities. mental health in the state of Michigan.
The action took place during the March 14 Board Committee of the Whole meeting in Tawas City.
Two bills, introduced last year by the Michigan Senate, are currently in the process of being passed. The bills are SB 0597 and SB 0598, and would privatize the state mental health system. Insurance companies would control plans for Medicaid patients, instead of public entities.
Under the resolution passed by the commissioners, the county’s position commissioners do not support the privatization of mental health for a number of reasons outlined in the resolution.
“Recent proposals from the Michigan House and Senate fundamentally change the public behavioral health system and will harm those served by the system,” as the county’s resolution points out.
It further indicates that county officials oppose the bills because it would eliminate local oversight, governance, operations and accountability, and beneficiaries “would risk losing access to services, supports and contribution to the design and operation of their services and support system“. as stated in the resolution.
The resolution further stated that “the Senate proposal specifically incentivizes and prioritizes private corporate profits over the public and those served by our public behavioral health system.”
The letter goes on to ask Michigan lawmakers to support certified community behavioral health clinics, behavioral health homes, and opioid health homes, instead of passing the bill, among other things, including that a such a change as the state recovers from the pandemic could be devastating for families.
“Be it further resolved that copies of this resolution be forwarded to Governor Gretchen Whitmer, State Senator Jim Stamas, Representative Sue Allow, the Michigan Counties Association, and the other 82 counties in the state”, as stated in the resolution. .
Commission Chairman Jay O’Farrell, who sits on multiple AuSable Valley Community Mental Health (AVCMH) boards, said there are plenty of Iosco County representatives on that board to take decisions for local people who may need their services.
The agency serves more than 2,000 people in Iosco, Ogemaw and Oscoda counties and was created under the Community Mental Health Act of 1963.
“We have good reprobation for AVCMH and I would hate to lose that,” O’Farrell said. “If this goes in the direction of privatization, I think it would definitely have a negative impact on mental health services in Iosco County.”
O’Farrell, who usually asks the other four council members to make motions, made the motion himself to send the adoption of the resolution to the full council for adoption, which could take place at the meeting. of April 6. O’Farrell was seconded on his motion by Vice President Charles Finley.
O’Farrell told commissioners that some of the local services AVCMH provides to the community are so-called group homes for those who may have mental illness or other developmental disabilities that may prevent them from live alone. He said the AVCMH has trained experts to live and monitor group homes so those in need have someone to help them with day-to-day activities, such as taking appropriate medications, making appointments. visits to the doctor, housework, attendance at public events and other community supports.
He said there were several residences in the county, but most people would not know where they are. He said the houses are an extremely valuable asset for those who need AVCMH services.
“These houses fit into the neighborhoods, they are assisted living facilities and they are good programs,” he told the commissioners. “I sit on the building committee (for the AVCMH) and we visit these residences twice a year to do inspections to make sure the people who live there are well taken care of.”
Commissioner Robert Huebel said one such house was in his neighborhood, adding that if you didn’t know it was run by the AVCMH, you wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from a regular house in the district.
O’Farrell said it was because the homes were well maintained for the residents.
“If the rug looks good, we replace it,” he said. “The bathrooms are in pristine condition and we have professionals with social work training to watch the homes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, introduced the bills last summer and said they would make mental health care “fully integrated with physical health.”
Commissioner James Minor said if Shirkey eventually gets the bills passed, it would remove a mental health system, AVCMH, which he believes already exists and works.
He quipped sarcastically “we really need to think about that ‘almighty dollar’ in reaction to bills proposed by lawmakers. Miner voted with the other three commissioners present to pass the resolution to the full board. Commissioner Terry Dutcher, who had been absent since March 14, did not vote, and the measure passed 4-0.