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Michigan ahead of curve in opening new kind of community mental health and addiction clinics

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The Biden administration is expanding new community mental health and addiction centers in response to the mental health crisis in the U.S.

The Biden administration has announced an additional round of $15 million in grants for a new kind of community mental health and addiction clinic.

Michigan is unlikely to qualify — but it's for good reasons.

Michigan already has 37 of the clinics, called Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC), more per capita than any other state. And the state also received some of the $300 million in previously announced federal grants.

Robert Sheehan is head of the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan. He said the clinics are a welcome response to the mental health crisis in the U.S., which was already a serious issue even before the pandemic.

"These sites open their doors for any Michigander in their community who needs mental health care, from psychotherapy and psychiatry to outreach case management, to housing supports, to inpatient, to what are called drop-in centers. Those are huge changes," he said.

Sheehan said many people with Medicaid insurance and even those with private commercial insurance plans are having great difficulty finding therapists and other behavioral health treatment. That's because the compensation rate for therapists on many plans is extremely low.

Sheehan said the health insurance trend is called "ghost networks," meaning a plan's mental health benefits are essentially on paper only, because the provider network is so scanty that the benefit can't be accessed.

He said some of those people are already turning to the CCBHC clinics in the state, because it's easier to get help there.

Sheehan mostly credits Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow for the state's unusually high number of CCBHC clinics. Stabenow, a Democrat, introduced the initial legislation setting up the clinics in 2015, and Michigan was selected as one of eight states to run pilot clinics, prior to the expansion of the program by the Biden administration.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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