Getting to the bottom of Washtenaw County’s proposed mental health cuts, gorging on scotch ice cream, and helping a romance writer imagine filthy scenarios with Henry Ford …on episode 23 of the Saturday Six Pack

SSP23craigboxhead

Much like the Lagavulin 16 Year Single Malt Scotch ice cream we ended the episode gorging ourselves on, this edition of the Saturday Six Pack was complex and layered… One minute it was fun and light, and the next it was deadly serious. In just two hours time, we somehow managed to have interesting conversations about mental health funding, racist mascots, and ginger beer floats. And, as if that weren’t enough, there was a song about a local prostitute, and an unexpected visit from some local, rock ‘n roll newlyweds… Oh, and there was a call from an author who was taking a break from writing smut to tune into the in-studio ice cream party that this episode had become. There were milkshakes and magic shells. I also coined the phrase “mirral,” for a mural made of mirrors.

[If you would like to listen to episode twenty-three of The Saturday Six Pack, you can either download it from iTunes or scroll the bottom of the page, where you’ll find the Soundcloud file embedded.]

The show started on a serious note. County Commissioner Yousef Rabhi, Greg Pratt of MISSION (Michigan Itinerant Shelter System, Interdependent Out of Necessity), and AFSCME Local 3052 President Nancy Heine talked with me about looming cuts to Washtenaw County’s Community Support and Treatment Services (CSTS) division – cuts that will likely leave close to 90 of the Country’s 350 mental health care workers without jobs, and hundreds of our most vulnerable neighbors more at risk.

Commissioner Rabhi, who had to join us over the phone, as he was out of town on the day of the show, laid the groundwork for our conversation. He explained how it had come to pass that CSTS had come to be under the purview of the County, and the chain of events that had led to where we are today, staring at a multi-million dollar deficit and considering the elimination of not only close to 100 workers, but also a complete program that serves the disabled and mentally ill. [The program being targeted for elimination is the Vocational Services program.] In large part, our discussion centered around a letter that both Rabhi and I had received earlier that morning from Commissioner Conan Smith concerning efforts to discover how it came to be that CSTS came to be so far in the red.

SSP23nancygreg

[above: Nancy Heine and Greg Pratt join me in listening to Commissioner Rabhi, who I believe was en-route to a wedding when he called in.]

Before getting to the letter from Conan Smith, I should note that conventional wisdom seems to be that these cuts, which everyone agrees are severe, were necessitated by tightening budgets at the State and Federal level. The Ann Arbor News, for instance, had reported a few days earlier that mental health services in Washtenaw County “(would) receive $2.5 million less in Medicaid funding than what was budgeted for the 2015 fiscal year and a decrease in $2.7 million from the State General Funds.” This was echoed by Deputy County Administrator Diane Heidt, who told me the following in an email. “The $4.7 million projected reduction that we are facing at this time,” she said, “is a direct result of cost cutting measures by the State, as well as reduced rates for the Healthy Michigan program.”

According to Smith’s letter, which you can read for yourself here, however, it’s possible that the State may not be at fault here… Here, with the permission of Commissioner Smith, is his letter.

“…the State has significantly increased funding to Washtenaw. Although Medicaid funds were apparently reduced by $2.5M, they were more than made up for by increases in general funds from the state. I’ve attached the appropriations history they provided. You’ll see a significant increase in total funding from FY13 to FY14. For FY15, the State appropriated a total of $74.8M, a $6.5M increase.

The WCHO (Washtenaw Community Health Organization) and CSTS are nonetheless reporting revenue declines (photo attached, FYI the fiscal years don’t seem to align so that’s probably confusing), including a $2.7M reduction in GF from the state. This kind of begs the question. ‘If the Legislature is sending us money but it’s not getting to the agency, where the funding is going?’ …We don’t know yet.

It could be that our new regional body – the “PIHP” (Prepaid Inpatient Health Plan) or “CMHPSM” (Community Mental Health Partnership of Southeastern Michigan) – may be taking a large administrative cut. Funding may be going directly to clients rather than to public bodies. Washtenaw may not be capturing its full take from the PIHP (e.g. we may not be collecting funds for eligible expense like HR management).”

Rabhi wasn’t willing to speculate as to whether or not this current crisis we find ourselves in could be the result of increased spending at the upper administrative level, but he did confirm that they are looking into it. He also made it clear that no CSTS employees would be terminated until he and the other County Commissioners had gotten to the bottom of it, determined that positions had to be eliminated, and were satisfied that plans were in place to meet the needs of Washtenaw citizens to currently depend upon programs being cut.

Here’s how Rabhi ends our call: “I’m troubled by the timeline we’ve been given on some of these cuts we have to make… We’re trying to get a handle on how the budgets work… To a lot of us, this is brand new… For me, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that our consumers (of mental health services) are the priority… We need to ensure that they’re safe, that they’re being protected, that they get the services that they need, and I’m willing to advocate at the state if the state is cutting, and at the region if the region is cutting. Whatever it is, we need to figure it out. These are people’s lives on the line.” Rabbi then went on to say that, if cuts do indeed have to be made, the people losing their jobs shouldn’t be the frontline staff, who are providing the services to clients directly.

Nancy Heine concurs with Rabhi, saying that all of this is relatively new to them as well. The first meeting the unions were included in, she says, took place just two weeks ago, on July 30. That, she said, is the first time she’d heard that jobs were going to be eliminated. At that time, I believe she said, she’d been told that 77 CSTS employees would be terminated. Since then, however, she says the number has climbed to 88… Here’s Heine peaking out from behind Greg Pratt’s beard to tell us how these cuts will ripple though Washtenaw County, as some of those union employees who are terminated will qualify for jobs in other departments given their seniority.

SSP23nancy

Heine says that she was told that unforeseen cuts at the State had led to the $4.8 million deficit, and that CSTS had no option but to cut these 88 jobs. She then went on to tell us what she’d heard about the jobs that were to be eliminated. She said that 13 administrative positions would be terminated, 8 within the Mental Illness program, 2 within the Developmental Disability program, 2 within the Youth and Family Program and 62 within the Vocational Services program, which is the entire program.

The vocation Services program, according to Pratt, is likely on the chopping block because it is the one non-medical program within CSTS, and, as such, its services are ones that cannot be easily reimbursed by Medicaid. Unfortunately, as a result of eliminating this program that trains and places disabled individuals in jobs, many will likely be more at risk. As Pratt explains it, the $200 or $300 a month earned by disabled individuals through the Vocational Services program, could be the difference between having a room and being homeless for some. [SSI and Housing Choice Vouchers, says Pratt, are not, on their own, enough to sustain stable housing for many.]

I should add that I tried to find a CSTS employee to join us on the show. Unfortunately, though, everyone I talked with was too scared to talk on the record, as they were afraid of retribution from those managers who would be making the decisions as to which employees would be losing their jobs. In fact, as soon as I started asking around for people to speak with, a message went out to all CSTS employees, informing them they weren’t allowed to speak with the press. Fortunately, Pratt, who interacts with many County employees in the course of his job duties working with our local homeless population, was able to give us some insight as to what CSTS employees are dealing with. They’re scared and miserable, he said. Not only are they afraid of losing their jobs, but they’re concerned about the clients who depend on them, and what might happen to them if these cuts come to fruition. Here’s Pratt urging listeners to get involved by calling their elected representatives.

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Then, at the 48-minute mark, we played the most recent contribution from our friend in Kenya, Dr. Pete Larson. This week’s song, for those of you who refuse to listen, was about a recent state visit President Obama had made to Africa, which apparently disrupted Pete’s routine. [Pete will be on the Saturday Six Pack live, in person, on August 29, so be sure to tune in.]

And, at the 51-minute mark, we were joined in the studio by Michelle Lietz of EMU’s Native American Student Organization (NASO), who told us how it came to pass that, a few days ago, EMU administrators gave up their quest to reintroduce the controversial “Huron” logo. Lietz was joined in the studio by local historian Matt Siegfried, who shared the history of the Wendat people, who were incorrectly referred to as “Hurons” by early French fur traders. [Huron apparently means “bristly pig” in French.] Here Lietz is telling us what she and the other members of NASO plan to do now that they’ve successfully brought this campaign to a close.

SSP23lietz

According to Lietz, the decision to remove the logo from the school’s band uniforms seemed to come directly from EMU’s new Interim President Kim Schatzel, who, after hearing all of the arguments on both sides, said that, from her perspective, “the decision had been made of 20 years ago,” in 1991, when EMU first retired the Native American mascot.

[If you’d like to hear our first interview with Lietz, back when the fight between NASO and EMU was first coming to a head, you can find Episode 15 here.]

Then, at 1:11, I talked with four-string guitar player Craig Johnson about the path that brought him to Ypsi, by way of Ann Arbor, after leaving Cadillac, Michigan. [He left Cadillac in hopes of finding more venues to play music.] Craig also played three very lovely songs for us. Here he is preparing to entertain us.

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I coined a number of phrases during this episode. One of them was “hypno-folk,” which I used to describe Craig’s music.

At some point during my interview with Craig, the door tot he studio swung open and the just-married duo Junglefowl came in. They’d apparently left their wedding reception, which was taking place down the street, to come by and say hello. Here they are, being all happy.

SSP23junglefowl

[Mark your calendars. Junglefowl will be back on the show September 19, to play for us live in the studio.]

And, at 1:36, Robb Hess, the man behind Go Ice Cream, came by to get us drunk on scotch ice cream, and tell us about his plans for expansion in downtown Ypsi. [If you want to help make it happen, you can contribute toward the cause here, and get lots of cool stuff in return.] We talked, among other things, about lube ice cream, limp handshakes, and just how difficult it is to find decent commercial property in Ypsilanti. Here’s Hess listening in as I talked on the phone with his significant other, Lara Zielin, about the book she’s presently writing, which is about an archivist gets turned-on after reading racy letters written by a long-dead industrialist. I believe, at the point this photo was taken, I was telling her either that archivists aren’t sexual beings, or that Henry Ford is thought by some to have killed a mistress on the grounds of Greenfield Village. Zielin, I’m sure, didn’t care to hear either. She’d just called in to let us know that our phone lines were working, as I’d kept saying, “Will someone please call in so we can see if our phones are working?”

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Thanks, as always, to AM 1700 for hosting the show, Brian Robb for running the board and keeping the bills paid, and Kate de Fuccio for documenting everything that happens. [All the photos above come courtesy of Kate.]

If you like this episode, check out our archive of past shows at iTunes. And do please leave a review if you have the time, OK? It’s nice to know that people are listening, and, unless you call in, that’s pretty much the only way we know.

AND NOW, THANKS TO SCIENCE, YOU CAN LSTEN FOR YOURSELF:

[And, no, I have idea how Kate de Fuccio came to put Batgirl on the poster for this past week’s show, just days before the actress who portrayed her, Yvonne Craig, would die. I don’t know if it’s really awesome, or really creepy.]

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34 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    Posted August 20, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    How can we even begin talking about firing people before we know where the money actually went?

  2. Kit
    Posted August 20, 2015 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I’d like to know more about what will happen with people currently participating in the CSTS vocational program. Was Pratt exaggerating at all when he said that people would become homeless without the additional revenue afforded by placements through this program? Are there no nonprofits that could step in to administer such a program?

  3. Greg Pratt
    Posted August 20, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I just returned from a two-hour session with someone I am trying to help keep in mental health care via CSTS. We are in for some rough times if another resource does not emerge for this particular set of individuals in our communities.

  4. Gag Ordered Drone
    Posted August 20, 2015 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your excellent coverage of this complex and fast moving issue at CSTS, Mark! You are right on the money about frontline employee sentiment here…I know this because I am one, and we’ve been cowed into not talking about persons making these cuts and are miserable with the wait and see / the other shoe is gonna drop communications from upper management… (that is, those benefiting from the fast timeline they’ve imposed on the process.. and the ones trying to minimize WCHO/CSTS’s overpaid upper management culpability & mismanagement in the deficit…). Continue fight the good fight…and follow that money!

  5. Gag Ordered Drone
    Posted August 20, 2015 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I’d like to comment that the Vocational Program employs many former and some current homeless persons in many public contractual jobs that will be lost if this service is privatized as the contracts will expire when Voc is disbanded. Basically, many of these persons are janitors and landscapers and other low level service providers in the community who will no longer be able to maintain these jobs without the supervisory and staff support of the Vocational program. Private vocational rehabiliation providers typically do no provide staff stability, appropriate staffing, or even have the contractual know how to maintain the contracts (cleaning public buildings such as the County offices and the County Rec building) and so these jobs will no longer be staffed with homeless, former homeless, or disabled persons at all when the Voc Program is discontinued.

  6. MX
    Posted August 20, 2015 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Is this the United States we want to live in? Do we want to keep prioritizing tax cuts for the wealthy while the poor, weak and old around us are dying in the streets? It’s amazing to me that there hasn’t been a revolution yet. It’s coming.

  7. Posted August 20, 2015 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Drone. I’m glad you liked this episode.

  8. Posted August 20, 2015 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of the Vocational program, as I mentioned on the show, I think it would be incredibly impactful if there were video of those individuals who would be impacted, talking in their own words about what the program means to them. I think it’s much easier to defund programs if there’s not a human face associated. I don’t know if we have any film people in the audience who are looking for unpaid projects, but I’d love to have video that makes clear what these 62 people working in the CSTS Vocational program actually do, and what it means for their clients. I think such a piece would really help inform this discussion.

  9. Stupid Hick
    Posted August 21, 2015 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    Did EMU ever have a Huron “mascot” in the form of a white guy in red face, working the crowd? I don’t know, I’m just asking. You do know there’s a difference between a logo/emblem and a mascot right?

  10. Posted August 21, 2015 at 2:35 am | Permalink

    Just so we’re clear, Mark posted the above comment while I was working, doing outreach yesterday. The comment refers to me coming home at midnight Wednesday night after helping an individual who is using CSTS to get more talk therapy sessions. The individual in question had a”Healthy Michigan Plan”HMO which provides for 20 counseling sessions per year. The 20 session ran out 3 weeks ago and ever since we have been bouncing around trying to figure out exactly who will write a letter authorizing this client’s extended counseling sessions. In the meantime, this client is going *without* and THAT is the Healthy Michigan Plan in action. The Healthy Michigan Plan is the expanded Medicaid program. Everyone making 138% and less of the Federal Poverty Level qualifies for this. Once determined eligible, one needs to pick one of 4 private health insurance HMOs. At this point the state no longer determines what is covered, the private insurance corporation does.

    RE: “Exaggeration” Even if a non-profit steps up to fill the gap, which may happen, you are going to lose people in the process of “referring out.” Also, when talking with individuals at the top in CSTS management, they have told me that the cuts will force the organization to work exclusively with people in “urgent” and “emergent” crises. All others will be referred to other services. We will lose people in this process. Can anyone think of a nonprofit that could take on caseloads that 62 people had previously been involved with? Even if they could, what do you think is the turnaround time to get a model in place, people hired to do the job?

  11. facebook stalker
    Posted August 22, 2015 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Someone asked about the new CSTS budget on Facebook. Conan Smith responded.

    “So, the new CSTS budget is in development still…the staff there only learned of their proposed reduction in mid/late July. Given the Oct 1 fiscal year start date, I expect details to be forthcoming in the next few weeks. We’re working with people throughout the system, from Rebekah Warren to the County’s field team to understand what is really driving these cuts to the agency and what options we have for protecting both services to residents and the jobs of the staff.”

  12. Posted August 23, 2015 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I asked a new acquaintance of mine who has been involved in mental health care work in Washtenaw County for over 35 years. Through talking with this person about the vocational services team they stated the actual number of clients served by the 62 vocational services employees is small compared to other types of services. I stated that it seemed like a large number of employees to be laid off in light of the small [relatively speaking I guess] number of clients served. Here is what the individual wrote in response to that:

    “You are correct. 62 is a large # of employees. These clients are the most severely disable, so they require high staffing levels and the 62 includes support staff like van drivers as well as direct service staff and supervisors.”

    Part of the reason they need to contract out these services is the CSTS unit rate to provide voc services is around $20/15 minute unit and the current contractors rates run from $3.20/unit to just over $4/unit. The CSTS high overhead costs drives up the unit rate. For instance the fringe benefit rate for county employees is 62% and their wages are alot higher than a contractor can pay and the county passed a 10 year contract last year that will only raise those costs every year. They are not sustainable under the mental health funding structure of Medicaid funds.”

    Just wanted to add some more info.

  13. SOS
    Posted August 27, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I just heard through the grapevine that Nancy, who was on this episode of your show, is one of the people who got terminated today.

    Towner was a “bloodbath”.

  14. SOS
    Posted August 27, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I work for a company CSTS contracts with. They are cutting both our hours with clients and the hourly rate they pay us.

    I’ll survive but we have a new client who was just dumped into our laps who has gone from 24-hr a day care to 3 hours a week.

    He’s never cooked a meal in his life.

  15. Demetrius
    Posted August 27, 2015 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Clearly, the solution to the problems faced by the mentally ill (and their families, and communities) is not treatment … just bigger tax breaks.

  16. Savage
    Posted August 27, 2015 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    If it’s true that Nancy was fired, I wonder if her organizing could have been a factor. Maybe people were justified in not wanting to speak up.

  17. EOS
    Posted August 27, 2015 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    What, Obamacare doesn’t fully pay for the cost of services? Access to healthcare is being restricted by administrators? Who would have thought…

  18. Posted August 27, 2015 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Jesus.

    If it’s true that the cuts were announced today, I’m so sorry. My thoughts are with everyone involved.

  19. Posted August 28, 2015 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    I forgot I did that song about Obama coming to Kenya.

  20. Anonymous
    Posted August 28, 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t heard that Nancy lost her job, but it wouldn’t surprise me. They hate her. She’ll likely bump to another job though, given her seniority in the union.

    Clinical cuts have been made, though… maybe about 16 from what I’m hearing. But everyone is still working for the time being, until the Board of Commissioners approves the cuts. They meet around September 3rd, so jobs would probably be lost mid-September.

    These were just the little cuts that they can do now via a combination of attrition (retirements), vacant jobs, and random move-arounds. The BIG cuts will occur after the BOC ratifies their structuring at next week’s session. That’s when they’ll decide what to do about the Vocational program.

  21. Lynne
    Posted August 28, 2015 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t there a provision in the state constitution requiring the state to care for the mentally ill? Can an ordinary citizen sue the state even if they aren’t directly affected by the state not caring for the mentally ill? Ugh. This is horrible and it is going to really suck for everyone.

    I love how EOS is trying to pretend that this has anything to do with Obamacare. This has nothing to do with that except that thanks to the mental health provisions in the Affordable Care Act, some people who would have been devastated by these cuts are going to be able to get by because their regular health insurance will pay for the costs of treatment. The problem here isn’t Obama at all but rather the usual issue of people being willing to throw their fellow citizens under the bus if it means paying less taxes. Except here is the kicker. It isn’t even going to result in less taxes. Anything saved by the county is going to cost us more at the state level once we start imprisoning people for crimes which likely would have been prevented with adequate mental health care in the first place.

  22. Demetrius
    Posted August 29, 2015 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    Wait … you’re saying that for these cuts to become official, they still have to be “approved” by the County Commissioners?

    If/when that happens, any who support it (D or R) should be targeted for defeat in the next election.

  23. dennis
    Posted August 30, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    when yousef and the evil overlord pulling his puppet strings (conan smith) say they don’t know where the money went, they are lying. the budget is the commissioner’s budget.

    he’s going to look into where the money went in his own budget? whew, that’s a relief!

  24. Posted September 2, 2015 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    That’s it just push more off on the people that work for next to nothing , Staff in the homes provide more than fixing meals, wiping hutts, and passing medications. Beleive me I know after leaving after 21 years of doing just that . WCHO began as a troubled organization from its begining . Not one person whom I ever had to deal with had any common sense . but yet they ALL knew it all . I became so disgusted with their attitudes it forced me to leave people that I loved and cared for, for many years .
    It’s about time someone makes WCHO accountable for the years of the lack of caring about the individuals that they are suppose to be caring for and serving. This organization is a huge joke.

  25. Posted September 3, 2015 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    CSTS, under the leadership of Trish Cortes, brought all the employees being cut into a room to give the announcement last week, instead of doing individual exit interviews. From what I heard it was awful.

    What I am trying to wrap my head around [in addition to the fact that we are somehow missing millions of dollars in state revenue for our low-income mental health services] is this:
    how are Ms. Cortes and Ms. McDaniel justifying implementing the cuts, when the County Board has YET TO APPROVE THE BUDGET.

    Also, Ms. Cortes and Ms McDaniel need to come clean regarding where all the money that had been earmarked by the state [$6.5 Mil increase from previous years] has gone, leaving this $4.7 Mil hole.

    OPEN THE BOOKS.

    I am so very disappointed. There needs to be a leadership change at CSTS. The “house cleaning” of WCHO is apparently not enough.

  26. Posted September 27, 2015 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Here is the update from our coaltion: http://hvclc.org/2015/09/24/hvclc-progress-on-mental-health-services-at-washtenaw-county-commission/

  27. Posted September 27, 2015 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    *coalition :)

  28. Thom Elliott
    Posted September 28, 2015 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Well we have to pay for the tax cuts for the plutocratic class somehow, what do the racialist gated communities care about what happens to the mentally ill citizens of Michigan and their ‘bleeding heart’ support systems? When they commit crimes as ‘class war casualties’ and end up in our private prison system they will just be added to the for-profit prison slave labor force, so it’s really a win-win for the plutocracy. They get to pay less in tax and increase their ultra-profits from internally colonialized subalterns in our neoliberal prison system. I’m sure some liberal reforms will fix this situation, maybe the Bern will do something about it.

  29. facebook stalker
    Posted October 1, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    From Mary Morgan:

    “Officer Doug Martel of the Ann Arbor PD gave an update on panhandling – including Arthur’s increased aggression – at this morning’s meeting of the Main Street Area Association. He also talked about how the county’s “meltdown” of mental health services could impact the area, as people who’ve been receiving medication and support will likely be getting less (or none) of both. It’s scary.”

  30. Eel
    Posted October 1, 2015 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    No problem, we’ll just hire some “ambassadors” at minimum wage to push them away from downtown.

    http://markmaynard.com/2015/01/how-do-we-deal-with-the-homeless-in-ann-arbor-easy-hire-greeters-on-segways/

  31. Posted February 21, 2016 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Crain’s just published a story titled, “Michigan would privatize mental health funding, services under Snyder’s proposed budget.” Here’s a clip.

    Gov. Rick Snyder’s $54.9 billion fiscal 2017 budget calls for privatizing the $2.4 billion public mental health system by turning over state funding to Medicaid HMOs.

    In what is called “boilerplate” language at the end of Snyder’s 408-page executive budget bill, Section 298 calls for carving in behavioral health benefits to the health plans by the end of fiscal 2017, which ends Sept. 30, 2017.

    While the budget language does not include any savings, the Michigan Association of Health Plans, which has been lobbying for the changes, has suggested the switch could save the state millions of dollars.

    Officials with the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards, which is opposed to the plan, have called for an all-out lobbying effort targeted at key policymakers and state legislators, who will be holding hearings on the budget request over the next few months.

    Snyder’s budget proposal goes to the House and Senate appropriations committees. The House appropriations committee, chaired by Al Pscholka, is to hold its first hearing Feb. 29. The Senate appropriations committee, chaired by Dave Hildenbrand, had not scheduled its first meeting.

    “We knew talks have been going on for months” to move state funds to Medicaid HMOs, said Robert Sheehan, CEO of the community mental health board association.

    “We thought there would be real talk about integration and how to serve patients better. This doesn’t move state policy along, control costs or help clients. The overhead for private plans is two times more than public plans.”

  32. Greg Pratt
    Posted November 29, 2016 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    There is a report due in “early December” that may recommend privatization of the 2 Billion in Medicaid resources.

    If this comes to pass, I think we need to firmly resist the state and its current stewards and block them from privatizing a benefit necessary for the survival of so many in our community.

    But, what are your thoughts? What are the disadvantages and advantages of privatizing Medicaid resources?

  33. Timothy Schneider
    Posted November 30, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    If an essential service is made to make a profit the owner has no reason not to maximize profit at the expense of the suffering for those it is supposed to serve. The current system is not great, by any means, but in its aims it serves the people, and not a company’s shareholders.

    DHHS already runs at a barely-skeletal budget, and with the consistent cuts that have hacked the needed services it provides to the damn bone, the ability of those within DHHS to provide its services have been greatly hampered. A public structure has every reason to reduce the workload on its staff to avoid burnout. A private one has every reason to increase the workload to maximize profitability.

    When private institutions came up to ‘replace’ the public institutions for the mentally ill and long-term disabled, what actually replaced them? Incredibly expensive for-profit systems only a few are actually able to afford out of pocket, that often puts people into an environment where the employees are grossly overworked, underpaid, and made to do 3+ jobs at once.

  34. Timothy Schneider
    Posted November 30, 2016 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    When the prisons, who had their own internal food service workers, were forced to privatize their food services, the result was poorly paid employees who provided active security risks to themselves, the inmates, the corrections officers, and to one another. The quality of the food dropped tremendously, and there were food riots in the prisons as a result. Michigan Radio did a great job covering this, too.

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