Michigan to begin changing how it funds mental health, addiction services

More than a dozen behavioral health clinics in Michigan will now be able to turn to Medicaid to fund their services, in much the same way that community health centers for physical care can do.

The new funding vehicle will allow clinics that meet quality standards to expand access to services, including 24-hour crisis mental health services, which are expected to reduce unnecessary visits to prisons and emergency rooms as a result of the lack of community mental health services.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabeno, D. Lansing, revealed the state’s new “Transformational Behavioral Health Initiative” on Wednesday, October 13, during a virtual call with reporters. She was joined by Lt. Garlin Gilchrist II and Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“In our country, we have not funded mental health and addiction treatment as healthcare,” Stabino said. “For a very long time, we have said that healthcare above the neck is treated differently than healthcare below the neck.

“It may not seem like a lot, but it is fundamental to changing the way we provide mental health and addiction services in the community.”

As of this month, 13 of Michigan’s 33 accredited community behavioral health clinics will be reimbursed for service costs — an increase in funding backed by $26.5 million and US$26.5 million. Prior to this change, clinics used a variety of funding sources including grants and some Medicaid reimbursement.

The remaining 20 clinics will continue to be funded through start-up grants, although Stabenow said the next step in the process will be to get more of these clinics full Medicaid funding as well.

To be considered a certified community behavioral health clinic, these centers must meet certain quality standards. They are required to provide a comprehensive range of behavioral health services including 24/7/365 crisis services; outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment services; spot checks, risk assessments and diagnoses; and coordinate care with emergency rooms, law enforcement, and veteran groups.

Stabeno said the initiative aims to permanently bridge the funding gap between physical and behavioral health care, which has long forced the latter to rely on grant funding to provide services to people in need.

Related: Mental health struggles are increasing in Michigan families during the pandemic. Here are their stories.

The 13 clinics eligible for the new funding compensation include:

  • Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in St. Joseph County
  • Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham County Community Mental Health Authority
  • Community Network Services (Oakland County)
  • Easterseals (Auckland County)
  • HealthWest (Muskegon County)
  • Kalamazoo Integrated Services
  • Macomb County Community Mental Health
  • Saginaw County Community Mental Health Authority
  • Saint Clair County Community Mental Health Authority
  • Orientation Center (Wayne County)
  • Right Door (Ionia Province)
  • Community mental health in Washtenaw County
  • Western Michigan Community Mental Health (Lake, Mason, and Oceana counties)

Michigan is not the first state to recognize accredited community behavioral health clinics. Elsewhere in the country, communities with these clinics had 63.2% fewer emergency department visits for a behavioral health crisis, a 40.7% decrease in homelessness, and 60.3% less time in prison, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

“I look forward to Michigan being part of the ongoing success story of this program in helping demonstrate widespread adoption of the CBDHC model across the state and across the country,” Michigan Governor Garleen Gilchrist said.

Lt. Governor noted the historical differences in who can afford and/or access mental health services, as well as the stigmas associated with them. He described the previous financing model as “disjointed, insufficient and inadequate”.

“It’s not about how much money you have, it’s about making sure you get the care you need to be healthy and successful,” Gilchrist said.

Karen Block is one Michigander who has benefited from visiting an accredited clinic. Through services provided by Easterseals in Southfield, she said she has been able to stay out of hospital and find work on her way to recovery.

“It has helped me get so far in my recovery that I have had a part-time job,” Block said. “I just want to say that the help I received from Easterseals has changed my life. Everyone should be able to receive the services they need.”

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the country’s mental health struggles. For most of the first year with COVID-19, people were isolated and afraid of this unknown disease, and livelihoods were turned upside down as communities tried to limit the spread of the virus.

In 2020, drug overdose deaths increased 30% nationally, reaching an all-time high according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related: Michigan’s coronavirus crisis is causing an epidemic of mental health problems

Throughout the pandemic, Stabenow has secured $1.52 billion in funding through the U.S. bailout, Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and the Coronavirus Control, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, for the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Expansion Grant Program, according to the National Expansion Grant Program Community Behavioral Health Clinic. to her office.

“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the urgent and continuing need to fund comprehensive community mental health and addiction services,” Stabeno said.

One in five Americans has a mental illness or substance use disorder. And now more Michigan families are struggling as we recover from the pandemic.”

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