GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A move by lawmakers in Lansing to save Michigan millions of dollars by shifting health coverage expenses from the state to the federal government is being blamed for major losses in mental health coverage funding.
“When they switched over to the Affordable Care Act to make Medicaid expansion, mental health services were dropped by the state of Michigan,” said Patrick Cameron of the Servants Center.
The Servants Center provides guardians for the mentally ill, managing their money and making sure they get the care they need.
Of the agency’s 160 clients, as many as 30 recently got letters from Network180, the community mental health organization in Kent County, saying “Network180 will no longer be able to fund some or all of their services because of recent funding changes.”
“We’re talking about people that have been receiving services for most of their adult life — some 20 to 25 years with severe mental illness.” Cameron said. “All of a sudden, their funding is dropped. They can no longer receive case management services. These are people that desperately need psychiatric services.”
Many, if not most, of the people Cameron helps won’t be able to afford the medications and help they need on their own.
Cameron says given the choice between paying for food and housing or medications, it’s likely many will chose a roof over their heads and food on the table.
“We have some people, their medication is $400 a month. Now if you add on psychiatric services to that that could be another $400, $800 out of a $900 check,” Cameron said. “They don’t have anything left for an apartment.”
And Cameron says there’s no way to know how many people this will affect down the road.
“As we have people age, our parents, if they develop psychiatric symptoms, if they have Medicare, they won’t be able to get services because they are not funded by the right Medicaid package,” he said. “So we’re talking about a number of people.”