Dan Williams, Esq.
Public mental health and substance abuse funding may be eliminated as soon as next year if Governor Snyder's 2017 budget is implemented. The plan is to privatize the mental health system by transferring the state funding to Medicaid HMOs.
Proponents of the budget cut believe it will save the State millions to integrate public and private health services and administration.
Opponents of the plan believe it will only diminish the quality and accessibility of mental and behavioral health care. There is no guarantee that this will increase efficiency and lower costs; in fact, the opposite is likely to occur because overhead for private plans is two times that of public plans.
Disregarding the immediate impacts, there is a possibility that we may be saving now to spend later. Those who depend on publically provided mental and behavioral health assistance often have serious mental and emotional disorders. For these individuals, this treatment is what is keeping them afloat; so instead of being in hospitals, we will likely see them in jail cells.
Luckily, there is much time for discussions to be had. We can expect lawmakers and healthcare lobbyists on both sides of the issue to work out the kinks in the budget throughout the year.