Friday, April 25, 2014

Officials: Snyder’s miscalculation puts services to disabled at risk

Services provided to thousands of Michigan residents with mental illness and other disabilities are in danger of being lost because of budget errors made by Gov. Rick Snyder, the association that represents Community Mental Health Boards says.

“Unfortunately, the promise to do ‘no harm’ has been broken,” said Michael Vizena, executive director of the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards. “Errors were made, and savings were withdrawn before sufficient ‘Healthy Michigan’ revenue was available to replace the lost revenue,” he said.

Healthy Michigan is a public health insurance plan for the 46 Community Mental Health Boards across the state. It is an expansion of Medicaid to provide physical and behavioral health care insurance coverage to nearly 500,000 Michigan citizens.

Unfortunately, more than $100 million of statewide CMH general fund support was reduced and placed into state savings as a result of the Healthy Michigan Plan being implemented April 1, the board said. This occurred before sufficient replacement funds were available from Healthy Michigan, causing projected shortfalls for 2014-2015.

OCCMHA anticipates that its expenditures for fiscal year 2014 will exceed funding provided by state and federal government by $22 million, a spokeswoman said Friday. The Authority passes on funding from state and federal core service providers.

These include Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, which provides services for more than 5,000 people with disabilities from its offices in Clinton Township and Auburn Hills; Community Network Services of Farmington Hills and Waterford; Training & Treatment Innovations of Oxford, Troy and Sterling Heights; Easter Seals Michigan which has offices in Auburn Hills and Community Living Services-Oakland of Ferndale.

Errors were made in the calculation of anticipated total savings as a result of increased Medicaid funds flowing into the state for Healthy Michigan, the board said.

“As a result, thousands of people across the state are receiving notices from their local Community Mental Health center that funding is no longer available to continue,” the Board added in a press release.

In addition, some mental health executives say many individuals served by the CMH system will not qualify for the Healthy Michigan plan.

The CMH board is projecting a full-year General Fund gap of $60 million based on full enrollment for the Healthy Michigan plan. The state recently added $25 million for Fiscal Year 2014 but the general fund gap still exists during the 12 to 18 month ramp-up period which ends in September 2015.

“The governor and the Legislature must restore the full year of the necessary general fund support for FY15 so that further and permanent reductions are not necessary,” Vizena said. “These funds must be restored as part of the FY15 budget process that will occur over the next six weeks. Community Mental Health centers and the individuals they serve need to know that resources will be there, in order to prevent a further erosion of services.”

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-resident and advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586 263-8950.