Governor Rick Snyder wants the $2.4 billion in mental health Medicaid money to be turned over to private insurance companies to manage.
He believes that Medicaid funds will be better spent and more people with behavioral issues and mental illnesses will be better served. Mental health would be integrated with physical health under the HMOs.
Many mental health advocates and patients don’t like the idea.
The Michigan Legislature asked for a review and recommendations for pilot programs. A group that’s been working for a year with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services just turned in a report that basically says that public agency should continue to work with the mental health providers it has been working with and devise plans for more integration between mental health providers and physical health providers.
Pilot programs with the health insurance industry were not recommended.
Dominick Pallone is executive director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans, the insurance industry. He joined Stateside to give the insurance industry side of the story.
This work group, the 298 Facilitation Workgroup, with the state agency turned in its report. Representatives of the insurance industry left that group and presented a separate report to the legislature.
"We just wanted to make sure that our voice was not muffled because of the make-up of the workgroup which was heavily slanted against the HMO industry," Pallone said.
The insurance industry, Pallone said, wants the chance to prove it has the track record to handle the state's mental health care system.
For the full interview, listen above.
Minding Michigan is Stateside’s ongoing series that examines mental health issues in our state.