Confusion over mental health budget

Posted at 6:08 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 18:08:41-05

A budget push for the state to better coordinate mental and physical health services.

"Are we organized in the absolute best way we can be organized in order to maximize service delivery at the local level?" asked Lynda Zeller of the Department of Health and Human Services.

She spoke with the legislature today about that plan and the hope to change the way the state pays for treatment.

Zeller explained, "It's all about the money that we already invest in mental health, is it being invested in the wisest way we can to effect the greatest effect we can?"

Zeller said it's not about saving money or privatizing mental health care, but some lawmakers are concerned.

"You're going to be taking people away from their primary care doctor because they don't participate in a certain health plan; and, a certain health plan is going to have the mental health product and that is also going to be severing long term relationships with primary care doctors," said Rep. Ed Canfield (R - Sebewaing).

Which is why the Lieutenant Governor has created several work groups to continue the conversation and come up with a balanced plan.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness quickly got involved. Executive Director, Kevin Fischer, said he fears how patients will react to the change.

"First of all, it's very difficult to accept your diagnosis and to enter into a treatment plan and once you develop a relationship with your providers to change that ... can be extremely traumatic and so traumatic to a patients that they may stop seeking up services at all," Fischer said.

He's hoping the final decision is made from the bottom up with the most vulnerable in mind.

The Chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee told News Ten he's worried about coming up with the final plan before the budget deadline because there's so much to be considered.

The fiscal year starts October 1st, but Governor Snyder prefers the legislature to have the budget finished in early summer.