Michigan Association of Health Plans

Michigan Picked for Pilot Project Funding Community Mental Health Services

Michigan has been picked to partake in a federal pilot program that funds mental health and addiction services in community health clinics — an approach that’s helped to keep those needing treatment out of jails, hospitals and off the streets.

The pilot is tied to legislation enacted in 2014 from Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, to offer reimbursement for community-based mental health treatment.

The program established new federal criteria for participating clinics to meet quality standards and offer a broad range of services, including 24-hour crisis psychiatric care, counseling and integrated help to treat substance abuse, and physical and mental health issues.

Stabenow said the funding of community mental health and addiction services should not happen through grants that “start and stop,” rather than as part of the health care system.

“You would never say to someone who needed heart surgery, ‘We’d love to help you, but the grant ran out.’ And that’s what happens to someone with a mental illness or substance abuse every day,” Stabenow said in an interview.

The senator noted the the last piece of legislation that President John F. Kennedy signed his before his assassination in 1963 was the Community Mental Health Act. That was based on the idea to provide mental health services in the community, rather than housing people in institutions.

“That has never happened. My goal has been to make that a reality,” Stabenow said.

Michigan was not selected for the initial round of eight states for the pilot project in 2016 but has now been selected, along with Kentucky, for an expansion authorized under the federal coronavirus relief or CARES Act.

Twelve centers included in Michigan’s proposal will be part of the demonstration, Stabenow said, and receive funding for two years through Medicaid, the government health program for mostly low-income individuals.

This article was originally featured in the Detroit News, read more here.