MHA behavioral health priorities are fully funded in House budget proposal

The Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA)’s priorities were fully funded in a bill passed out of the House Committee on Appropriations last week. According to MHA, funding for behavioral health issues is the most significant provision of HB 4420. The bill currently sits in the Senate Committee on Appropriations. 

 

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House Bill 4420 includes $125 million to add more pediatric psychiatric patient beds in hospitals, improves behavioral health access in the Michigan emergency departments and adds more appropriate settings for inpatient behavioral health care. 

According to Adam Carlson, vice president of advocacy at MHA, behavioral health care services are increasing in demand and will increase more in the future. The addition of child psychiatric beds was a first step in addressing this rapid demand. 

Carlson said:

“It is our hope that adding these beds will be able to alleviate [inpatient] waiting lists so that people who need inpatient behavioral health services will be able to access them right away.” 

Another part of MHA’s plan is to incorporate more appropriate spaces for behavioral health emergencies and inpatient stays. This includes separate emergency department entrances or triage stations and separate inpatient hospital rooms to reduce the risk of self-harm. 

According to Carlson, MHA would give grants to hospitals upon passage to spur innovation in behavioral health treatment in hospitals. However, in discussion with these hospitals, they plan to make rooms ligature free and free of any potential items usable for self-harm from door handles to toilets. 

Carlson said:

“It is our hope that these grants can provide a better environment for these behavioral health patients because what they are going through is different from the patient next to them [in the general hospital]. With these grants, we hope to be able to recognize that to improve the treatment that they get.”

MHA hopes to also use these funds to treat behavioral health inpatient cases for longer periods. According to Carlson, other states have proved that longer stays lead to better health outcomes for patients since they have more time to implement healthy habits and routines. 

Carlson said:

“Given the anecdotal reports we are hearing about the increasing demand for behavioral health services and the increasing severity of these situations, we are hopeful that we can alleviate these pressures, fight back against them and provide better behavioral health care so people are getting the treatment they need.”

A Senate bill that affects MHA’s budget allocation, SB 36, is still being worked through in the Senate Committee on Appropriations. However, Carlson has not yet seen any pushback against it. 

Carlson said:

“I have not found anybody who is not supportive of improving behavioral health care in Michigan.”