The Daily Mining Gazette recently discussed a community health needs assessment report that highlighted the fact that all counties on the Upper Peninsula have multiple designations for shortages of health professionals, including in health services. mental. Because of this, five percent of the UP population did not receive care for their behavioral health needs.
In contrast, according to a regional adult health survey, 25% of adults in UP said they had been told by a health care provider that they had a depressive disorder and 20% of adults had a depressive disorder. an anxiety disorder that is lifelong.
Access to mental health supports is critical, especially for Michigan’s Medicaid population. Medicaid patients with mental health issues often have physical health issues, but today their care is uncoordinated like those of us with private insurance.
Legislation is being discussed in Lansing that would reform Medicaid to finally integrate physical and behavioral health care and potentially expand access to mental health services for Michigan’s Medicaid population.
This concept has been talked about for almost three decades and is long overdue. It will bring improvements in equity and quality of care to a current bifurcated model of care that is not serving Upper Peninsula patients well today.
Compounding this unmet demand for services is a broken, bifurcated system that treats Medicaid patients very differently than those of us with commercial employer-sponsored health care.
Medicaid patients don’t have a health plan or public health system that oversees their physical and mental health. Michigan’s Medicaid program has overlapping layers made up of prepaid inpatient health plans, community mental health service providers, as well as Medicaid managed care health plans, all of which treat different categories of patients with different networks for different physical or mental health needs. Patients must navigate both a public and private health care system based on their physical or behavioral needs.
I have observed the ineffective and disjointed delivery of behavioral health care for Medicaid patients in UP for years. We need a system that can help those with physical and mental health issues. A unique network working in partnership with doctors and mental health professionals can detect problems earlier and avoid more expensive treatments.
Solving the provider shortage will not happen overnight, but requiring a single entity to be responsible for improving collaboration between these overlapping layers to support the mental and physical health of patients is a big step. in the right direction. With 33 other states serving their Medicaid population under one network, it’s time for Michigan to follow suit. This puts patients first, improves the quality of their care and creates healthier communities.
Dennis Smith is the president of Dennis H. Smith Consulting. He is also the former CEO of Upper Peninsula Health Plan.