In light of the unthinkable, America has gone through a collective depression and subsequent denunciation and demand for action toward our culture of violence. How many mass murderers does it take for a majority of our state and federal legislatures to focus on and systematically address the problems surrounding why some of our young men are filled with such homicidal and suicidal rage?
Access to the Mental Health System is the first step to successful diagnosis and treatment.
In Michigan, our governor has decided to aggressively advocate for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Health Care Act. The expansion would initially allow up to 320,000 and ultimately 470,000 more enrollees into the state behavioral health system. And that's 20,000 in the U.P. alone.
That's not to say that anywhere near that number will enroll, but there will be room for them. Those are people who don't currently qualify and can't afford help with mental, emotional, developmental or substance use treatment. The results of these unmet needs among parents often show up as abuse or neglect of their children. And the results of these traumas often show up later being treated in our prison system.
So now it's the State Legislature's turn to follow the governor's lead. Hopefully they will, then the federal government will pay for 100 percent of the Medicaid expenses for three years and 90 percent after that.
Sure there are still questions in working this new benefit out. And yes there are risks, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is committed to working problems out as they occur. And study after study says it will actually save money in the long run. And Governor Snyder wants to commit one half of those savings back into an account to pay for the state's share of the expansion up to 2034.
In the past, Michigan has developed a reputation as having a high quality of life. But, when the physical and mental health of its people are ignored, when our children are not getting the screening and treatment they need, and when treatable conditions end up in the costly care of emergency rooms and jails, that quality of life is threatened.
There's a price to pay for a quality of life state. Sixty-four percent of Michigan's residents have said they are willing to help pay that price, (Michigan Economic Center, 2012). We just need a legislature that has the bi-partisan courage to put people's behavioral and physical health care first and set our children's future on the right course. Let your legislator know, you want Medicaid expansion for Michigan.