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Sen. Stabenow, top state officials announce "transformative" mental health initiative in Michigan

Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow.
Debbie Stabenow United States Senator for Michigan

Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow announced Wednesday the launch of a new initiative. The goal is to increase access to mental health and addiction services in Michigan.

Starting this month, thirteen behavioral health clinics across the state are eligible to be reimbursed through Medicaid for the full cost of their services.

Stabenow said she's working to expand the number of eligible clinics in Michigan.

She said this is an important step toward paying for mental health and addiction services the same way we pay for physical health care at community health centers.

"It is about time that we are treating health care above the neck the same as health care below the neck," said Stabenow. "This is a transformative moment in terms of moving forward for mental health care."

Stabenow said no one with mental health or addiction problems should be turned away or delayed from getting help because grant funding has run out.

She said if you go into the emergency room with heart attack symptoms, they don't say, "Sorry, we can't help you. The grant ran out."

Stabenow said the 13 clinics are among 33 in Michigan that are called Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics. They must meet high quality standards to achieve that designation, including 24/7/365 crisis services, outpatient mental health and substance abuse services, and care coordination with emergency rooms and other agencies. They are also required to offer a comprehensive set of mental health services to anyone who seeks their help.

"What is very significant about this is that it includes 24-hour psychiatric crisis services so that people aren't sitting in the emergency room, they're not sitting in jail just because there's no help available to them," said Stabenow.

Stabenow said people who receive services from these certified clinics in other states experience substantially less homelessness, jail time and emergency room visits.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Elizabeth Hertel and CEO of the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan Robert Sheehan and others joined Stabenow at the Wednesday press conference for the announcement.

Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
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