4/2/2014 12:01:00 AM Local mental health agencies forced to cut services due to state funding reductions
Community mental health programs in the State have had 54% of State General Fund/General Purpose money cut effective April 1st. The agencies were notified of this reduction in a March 24 communication from the State Department of Community Health. Specific allocation communications were received by local CMH Directors on March 26.
State funding is the only resource for persons without any form of government health care or insurance. The 54% reduction was pursuant to appropriation adjustments in P.A. 107, related to the Healthy Michigan program, and P.A. 34, the recent supplemental appropriation approved by the state legislature in mid-March. "The assumption is that most of our clients will qualify for Medicaid or Healthy Michigan," says Ed LaFramboise of Alpena, Director of Northeast Michigan Community Mental Health, "but we know that many won't."
Eligibility requirements could be the problem. "Persons with Medicare aren't able to apply, and that's a problem," says Greg Paffhouse of Traverse City, CEO of Northern Lakes Community Mental Health. "Many persons with serious and persistent mental illness, who absolutely require services, are Medicare-only clients, which means that State GF must be expended for their services, as Medicare does not cover everything we do."
Hundreds of letters have been sent across the north notifying existing clients of the reduction. "It's a painful thing to do," says Kaczynski. "Access to services will be limited to this group."
Most funding received by community mental health agencies is Medicaid, according to Alexis Kaczynski, Director of North Country Community Mental Health, headquartered in Petoskey. "Last year, 82% of our funding was from Medicaid", Kaczynski said. "Twelve percent was from State sources, but losing half of that is a catastrophe. There are a lot of demands on this resource."
-Submitted by North Country Community Mental Health