Recommendations for mental health care reform don’t include for-profit HMOs…for now

Dec 21, 2016

Early this year, Governor Rick Snyder sent shock waves through Michigan's mental health care community when his proposed 2017 budget included changes in who would control the purse strings.

The Governor proposed taking much of the $2.4 billion mental health care system and switching that from public mental health organizations to private HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations).

A workgroup made up of state officials, mental health advocates, insurance industry representatives, state mental health providers, and others were formed to look at the issue.

Last week the group released a draft report that, in essence, saw the state reversing its course on shifting mental health funding, at least for now.

Kevin Fischer, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Michigan, joined Stateside to talk about the direction the state is taking when it comes to mental health care and the report that was drafted. 

The report was split into two parts and the first part that was submitted featured 69 recommendations on how the state of Michigan should manage and improve its mental health care system. The goal, according to Fischer, is "protecting the rights of consumers and caregivers to make sure we maintain some sense of continuity of care."

Fischer pointed out that he was pleased that the effort to reform the state's mental health system has progressed this far, but acknowledges there is a lot of work yet to be done. He is "cautiously optimistic" that some of the 69 recommendations could turn into policy.

Listen to the full interview above to hear more about the recommendations, why he's reluctant to turn over this system to traditional HMOs and what we can expect with part two of the report that is due to be released in March of 2017.

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