A monthly public policy newsletter from the Mental Health Association in Michigan (MHAM)
Welcome to the July 2020 edition of MHAM’s monthly newsletter that provides you with public policy updates and other information that impacts the behavioral health care of you and those you love. This edition of Letter from Lansing is being provided in honor of all those men, women and children who may be indigenous; black or persons of color who struggle with brain disorders who continue to move forward despite the challenges of being members of underrepresented groups.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A Note from the President & CEO
July has been known as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month since 2008. Ms. Moore was an American author, journalist and mental health advocate who worked to bring an awareness to the challenges that underrepresented groups experience when facing a mental health condition. The mental health needs of these groups are often inadequately addressed. Our parent organization, MentaL Health America, prefers to refer to this awareness as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) because it encourages a “person-first” approach and we agree with that perspective.
For more information about BIPOC and for other data the includes mental health statistics and general information, here is a link to the Mental Health America web site: https://mhanational.org/bipoc-mental-health
August is almost here, and we have entered the “dog days of Summer”. Michigan has been experiencing a string of sweltering days for the past few weeks. The state has been working toward “reopening” the state in phases, but a resurgence of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in southeastern Michigan and in other parts of the state has slowed down the process. The pandemic continues to interfere with the ability to return to “normal” and commands the attention of our media and impacts our way of living and our wellbeing. Many of us are still trying to understand the impact that the pandemic is having on ourselves, our families and our communities. The answers are unclear.
And yet, COVID-19 has revealed the cracks in our healthcare systems. The disparities in healthcare are not unique to the pandemic and have existed for a long time. This time, however, the data and the statistics coming to light because of the numbers of persons who are Black, indigenous or people of color who have died from or contracted COVID-19 cannot be ignored. The long-term mental health consequences of COVID-19 are unknown.
The work for MHAM and other advocates has just begun as we reimagine a behavioral healthcare system in Michigan that is fair, equitable and that provides effective mental health services to all citizens.
MHAM Public Policy Update
MHAM is continuing the monitor budget developments in Lansing. The pandemic’s negative impact on the state of Michigan’s budget for the remainder of the current fiscal year is being addressed by the Legislature and by the Governor’s office. This edition of Letter from Lansing will be providing you with an update about what is happening in Lansing as policymakers work to stabilize programs for the remainder of the year despite a 2.2-billion-dollar revenue shortage.
On Wednesday, July 22, 2020, an Executive Order was outlined before the House and Senate Appropriations committees that reduces spending across multiple state departments by $620 million dollars. According to Gongwer News Service (7/22/20), “The overall solution to the $2.2 billion involves the executive order and two supplemental appropriations bills. There are $224.7 million in reductions throught one of the supplemental bills as well as $80.8 million in prior-work project lapses.”
In an article from Bridge Magazine (7/22/20; online: https://www.bridgemi.com/michigangovernment/
michigan-closing-budget-gap-layoffs-and-cuts-roads-pfas-cleanups ), the
budget reductions are outlined:
State leaders passed a deal Wednesday and Thursday to cut $2.2 billion from the state’s nearly $60 billion budget to make up for a dramatic loss in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The winners: Schools and local governments, who received a boost through federal money including a one-time payment of $500 for teachers; a net increase of $175 per pupil and $150 million for local governments. Most of the money for schools is for coronavirus response.
The losers: PFAS and lead remediation ($4.8 million cut); implementing changes to Healthy Michigan ($2.5 million cut); roads and bridges ($13 million) and the state’s workforce. Most of the savings came from temporary layoffs and hiring freezes.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for the Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Administration (BHDDA), has a budget reduction of $36 million dollars. Half of the reduction is coming from layoffs and hiring freezes. If there is any “good news”, it is that enhanced Medicaid payments from the federal government have eased the need for steeper reductions. It is unclear about “how” the shortage of revenue will impact the next fiscal year that begins on October 1.
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