Lt. governor plans committee to address concerns over mental hea - WNEM TV 5

Lt. governor plans committee to address concerns over mental health privatization

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SAGINAW COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Sandra Lindsey alarmed and angry when she read Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed budget for fiscal year 2017.

"I was pretty shocked," Lindsey said.

She's the CEO of the Mental Health Authority in Saginaw County. Lindsey fears putting 11 private insurance companies in control of mental health would be devastating to patient care. 

"To simply say that control of the entire system is going to go to private companies located often very distant from the point of care has many people very, very worried," Lindsey said.

Lt. Governor Brian Calley said there was never a plan in place to privatize the state's behavioral health system.

"Well there was never a plan to privatize it in the first place," Calley said.

Calley said there is $2.4 billion in the state's mental health system. He said the governor wants to find a way to get more of that money to fund patient care instead of administrative costs.

"Providers and the government need to mold our activities and our efforts around the needs of the people that are receiving the services," Calley said.

With that said, Calley has formed a group of about 100 people made up of agencies, patients, advocates, and service providers. They will meet to come up with new language regarding mental health in the budget.

"The language that had concerned everybody is off the table and will not be back," Calley said.

Lindsey said she's optimistic Calley's group can pave the way for responsible change for the state's public mental health system.

"He's established this work group of over 100 stake holders that really want to take on I think the broad aspect of behavioral health in Michigan and that's a really good thing," Lindsey said.

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