For over a year, intense review has taken place across Michigan on a critical matter. How it is resolved will say much about our state.
On one side are powerful private insurers, who think about ways to increase profits. On the other are consumers of mental health service and their families and advocates, who think about survival.
The issue began in February 2016, when Gov. Rick Snyder proposed transferring $2.5 billion of Medicaid mental health money from governmental Community Mental Health Services Programs (CMHSPs) to the state’s 11 private Medicaid HMOs (also known as Medicaid Health Plans, or MHPs). The latter contract with the state to manage “physical” health care of many Medicaid beneficiaries.
The governor’s proposal was put on hold after public outcry. Since then, the state has done three major reviews of the issue. Each time, the governor’s plan was rejected.
First, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley formed a 120-person work group in early 2016. It recommended the publicly funded mental health system remain under CMHSP management.
Next, 45 affinity group sessions were held across the state last fall. Two-thirds of these were for service recipients and families, attended by over 700 people, who stated overwhelmingly they didn’t want MHPs controlling their mental health care. Additionally, the 15 affinity groups for service providers and payers yielded no recommendation supporting the Governor’s proposal.
Finally, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) appointed a 23-person workgroup to develop reports to the Legislature, delivered this January and March. Again, it was recommended that CMHSPs lead publicly funded mental health care and MHPs lead publicly funded care for other medical conditions. It was further recommended that joint CMHSP-MHP programming for shared enrollees be strengthened. These reports had over 70 recommendations, many targeted to improving the state’s mental health system.
You would think that would settle the matter.
However, there are rumblings in Lansing that legislature may not follow the recommendations of these 3 workgroups.