From left, Cassie Lietaert, Human Resources Manager for Centra Wellness Network; Kathryn Szewczuk, Executive Director of Lenawee Community Mental Health Authority; Joseph “Chip” Johnson, Executive Director of Centra Wellness Network; Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; State Sen. Curt VanderWall; State Rep. Mary Whiteford; Lee Belding, Legislative Director for Mary Whiteford; and Hannah Tomaszewski, Clinician for Catholic Human Services Inc. attend the bill signing ceremony at the Capitol Building.
State Rep. Mary Whiteford’s plan to increase access to mental health services is now law.
The plan would require the state health department to update its policies and determine an individual’s ability to pay for community mental health services by following the federal poverty guidelines and utilize the federal sliding fee discount program to make services more affordable for uninsured and underinsured patients.
Whiteford said that because the state has not updated the eligibility requirements recently, families that could qualify for the discount program may be missing out on reduced rates for medical services and Community Mental Health sites are losing medical professionals to other states and facilities that qualify for the loan repayment program. Her change to state law will help Michigan compete to attract and retain medical professionals in underserved areas of Michigan.
“Community mental health organizations around the state have expressed to me the importance of hiring and retaining mental health professionals,” said Whiteford, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. “Bureaucratic red tape within our state health department is getting in the way of important programs that help attract health care providers who agree to practice in underserved areas of Michigan. This change to Michigan law will truly help our communities.”
More than 1,400 community mental health sites will now be able to take advantage of retention and recruitment programs as a result of this policy change.
House Bill 5165 is now Public Act 91 of 2022.
Rep. Mary Whiteford has been nominated for House Legislator of the Year by Michigan Information and Research Service (MIRS), an independent news outlet that provides nonpartisan coverage of Michigan government.
The Michigan House, led by Appropriations Committee Chair Mary Whiteford, today approved a budget supplemental that will help Michigan communities remain competitive in the modern economy and bring new jobs to the state.