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Michigan chosen for pilot program that funds health services

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Michigan will be part of a federal project that funds mental health and addiction services at community health clinics.

The Certified Community Behavioral Health Center pilot program was created through a law that Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt partnered up to promote in 2014.

Eight states, including Oklahoma and Oregon, were selected for the first round of the program in 2016. Now, as part of an expansion under the federal coronavirus relief or CARES Act, Michigan and Kentucky will be in the project.

Twelve centers will participate in the program and receive funding through Medicaid, Stabenow said. Medicaid is a federal-state health care insurance program that helps pay for health care for low-income people of any age.

Stabenow said community facilities should not be funded through grants that “start and stop.”

“You would never say to someone who needed heart surgery, ‘We’d love to help you, but the grant ran out.’ And that’s what happens to someone with a mental illness or substance abuse every day,” Stabenow said in an interview.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that the first eight states in project found a 60% reduction in number of people taken to jails and a 40% reduction in homelessness, Stabenow said.

Robert Sheehan, CEO of the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan, said the timing of the program’s expansion is perfect because of the increase of depression and anxiety caused by the pandemic.

“This won’t happen tomorrow,” Sheehan said. “It will take months for Michigan to get fully engaged, but at least it raises the floor for really sound services for Michigan.”