Michigan Association of Health Plans

Behavioral health grant could have implications for local counties

A program that helps people with serious mental illnesses or emotional disturbances might come to Wexford County.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced recently that the Michigan Health Endowment Fund gave the department $500,000 to expand the Behavioral Health Home (BHH) program. BHH “integrates physical and behavioral health care services for Medicaid beneficiaries with serious mental illness or serious emotional disturbance,‘ according to a news release.

The program already exists in Grand Traverse and Manistee counties. With the additional funds, the program could expand to other Northern Michigan counties.

Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans (PIHPs) manage the behavioral health services for people enrolled in Medicaid. There are 10 in Michigan. The 21 northernmost counties in the lower peninsula are in the Northern Michigan Regional Entity (region two). Wexford and Missaukee counties are in region two.

“The intent is to expand throughout PIHP Region 2,‘ wrote MDHHS spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin, in an email to the Cadillac News. “So it is possible. Nothing has been finalized yet though.‘

In the news release, MDHHS said the $500,000 grant would be used “to modernize and expand BHH operations into several more counties to provide access to integrated services for an estimated 3,000-4,000 more Michiganders.‘

“Integrated and coordinated care is essential to improving outcomes for the most severely ill living in our state,‘ said Dr. George Mellos, senior deputy director of the MDHHS Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Administration, in the news release. “This funding will increase capacity for essential services, which will help mitigate the growing number of Michiganders with mental illness and the alarming trend in deaths by suicide.‘

MDHHS says expanded services are slated to be available in Fiscal Year 2021.

The department says benefits of the BHH include the following:

— A single point of contact for navigating a patient’s health and social needs.

— Access to an interdisciplinary team of physical and behavioral health providers.

— Engagement in a person-centered health action plan.

— Social and emotional support from peer support specialists/community health workers.

— Personalized care and support to positively affect a patient’s life.

The department says the program is shown to be cost-efficient through “reductions in avoidable costs.‘

This article appeared in Cadillac News. Read the full story here.