Michigan decides to fund mental health like physical health

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LANSING, Michigan (AP) – As of this month, 13 mental health and addiction clinics across Michigan will receive the same Medicaid funding as any other health center in an effort, according to U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, who will help bridge the stigmatizing and financial gap between and physical health.

Selected certified community behavioral health clinics, which meet high standards of care for those in need of mental health and addiction services, will now be fully reimbursed by Medicaid, like other health services, instead of depending on grants to supplement costs.

Stabenow, who led efforts to set standards for these clinics and now fund them in the same way as other health services, gave his take on the state of funding for mental health services in the United States. at a press conference on Wednesday.

“We haven’t funded mental health and addiction treatment as health care for too long,” Stabenow said. “We said, ‘above-neck healthcare is treated differently from below-neck healthcare.’ “

There are 33 CCBHCs in Michigan that offer 24 hour crisis services. Stabenow hopes that eventually all clinics will be reimbursed by Medicaid.

People who end up not being able to access help early on with addictions or mental health crises often end up using crisis services at clinics, said Sara Lurie, CEO of the Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton, Ingham Counties. CCBHCs often coordinate with emergency rooms, veterans services, and local law enforcement to ensure mental health care is provided to those who need it most.

Kalamazoo’s integrated services serve about 7,900 people each year, said CEO Jeff Patton, but with the help of full Medicaid funding, he expects the clinic to provide services to 9,000 people per year. next.

“Mental health is always, always a topic of discussion, but very little is being done to fund it,” Patton said. “It’s been my hope ever since this started, is that it will become more than a demonstration, it will become a permanent arrangement.”

The clinic may be reimbursed for things like transportation services, which it was not previously eligible for. This allows the clinic, which does not refuse its services to anyone, to put people in touch with the resources they need.

Lurie said his authority serves around 12,000 people a year and has expanded its staff and services to meet the needs of the community in recent years through grants. Now, with Medicaid reimbursement, the clinic can maintain needed services without being limited by grants.

“I think it will make a difference,” said Lurie. “Right now the views are limited. There will be a lot of learning and I hope that it will extend fully to the state as well and that it will be supported. “

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Anna Liz Nichols is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative corps. Report for America is a national, non-profit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.


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