Excerpt from: The Oakland Press (click for full article)
Expanding Medicaid to cover an estimated 500,000 Michigan residents
without medical coverage can provide mental health care for thousands
who without treatment could end up homeless, receiving expensive
emergency rooms care or in prison, mental health experts say.
“It is sensible public policy to tap federal funds already set aside to expand preventive and life-saving health care under Medicaid,” said Mike Vizena, executive director, Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards.
Expansion represents the best single opportunity to improve access to behavioral health-care services for Michigan’s citizens most in need, he added.
Paul Tarr, a legislative liaison for the Department of Community Health, agreed.
“It is my belief Medicaid reform will definitely help people with mental and physical disabilities,” said Tarr.
Cuts to general fund support for mental health and substance use disorder services during the past decade “have resulted in a lack of access, reduction of services and creation of waiting lists for persons without Medicaid,” Vizena said.