Michigan Senate spends $565M in health care, other spending

LANSING — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to spend nearly $550 million in federal pandemic aid to boost health care funding and an apprenticeship program, including $50 million to prepare for a potential overhaul of the state’s Medicaid mental health system.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey’s legislation to let private insurers manage Medicaid service for recipients with severe mental health, substance abuse disorders or cognitive disabilities remains pending on the floor. But the supplemental budget bill, which was approved 36-1 and sent to the House, has $50 million for “community mental health integration readiness.”

“Michigan’s mental health system is failing patients, their families, providers and taxpayers,” Shirkey said. “This bill is a piece, an important piece, of what I hope is a comprehensive plan to address this broken system.”

Leaders among Michigan’s existing county-level community mental health agencies have been opposed to privatization of their management services.

The spending measure — which totals $565 million overall — would set aside $100 million for a competitive grant program to increase the number of long-term pediatric inpatient slots by at least 120. Other funding would go toward crisis stabilization units, hospital infrastructure, heath worker recruitment and a host of other health-related programs.

Ascension Health, which has hospitals across Michigan, would get $35 million for “capacity expansion.”

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