Macomb families bracing for $30m in cuts to mental health services

Posted at 6:24 PM, Mar 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-25 10:50:19-04

On April 1st, the next round of cuts to mental health funding are set to take place in some Michigan counties.

In April of 2016, the cuts started phasing in. Macomb County is expecting to lose a total of $30 million in Medicaid funding cuts from the state.

The Zentz family adopted their son Ben when he was almost 2. He had been the victim of child abuse and suffered a non-accidental traumatic brain injury.

He's 13 now, but unable to see or walk on his own.

His mom Debi says for several years now, her family has relied on help from Macomb County's Community Living Support services. It provides many things, along with caregivers who have been critical to Ben's life and care.

She's now worried about losing those critical services.

"I want Ben to have a good life and right now, he has a happy life, but we couldn't do it without our caregivers," says Debi.

A spokesman for the state told us the cuts are the result of its department providing more equitable benefits. He says there are currently areas of the state that are underfunded.

Bob Wheaton, spokesman for the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services provided this statement to 7 Action News:

MDHHS has been transitioning to this new methodology for funding PIHPs to better support the needs of Michigan residents.

The way the department has been providing Medicaid payments to PIHPs needed to change to be more sensitive to some key factors. The new methodology is more sensitive to variance such as percent of persons with higher needs and unique challenges areas with health professional shortages, such as some rural areas.

There are areas of the state that are currently underfunded based on the size and characteristics of their population, and conversely, there are areas of the state where higher reported costs were not supported by a greater percentage of high need persons.

he department understands that this will require many PIHPs to make changes – including Macomb County – which is why this is being phased in over a period of time.

Meanwhile, Debi Zentz says their funding has been approved for the next 6 months, but she doesn't know what will happen next.