MICHIGAN — A majority of voters are opposed to the privatization of mental health services in Michigan, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan.
According to the results of the poll, 67% of voters prefer the public mental health system by managed by public entities who specialized in mental health care verses turning the system over to private, for profit companies.
Last year, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey introduced Senate Bills 597 and 598, which would privatize all Medicaid mental health services by giving financial control and oversight to for-profit insurance companies, a news release from Community Mental Health for Central Michigan stated.
The EPIC-MRA polling shows two out of three Michigan voters would not support that change. The poll was conducted in January among active and likely November 2022 general election voters.
The poll found that 76% of voters are concerned that private, for-profit health plans do not have a good track record in treating mental health needs and will make matters worse. In addition, 73% are concerned that the overhead costs and profits private insurance companies take out of the taxpayer-funded Medicaid system will lead to less mental health services.
Nearly 4 times as many voters are less likely to support their legislator if he/she supports privatization of mental health service for Medicaid patients, than those who are likely to support that legislator, according to the poll.
Fifty-four percent think Gov. Gretchen Whitmer should veto the legislation if it comes to her desk.
“Our members have heard of concerns first-hand from their constituents and these results confirm voters worry about letting private health plans take control of the services for our most vulnerable populations,” said Stephen Currie, executive director of the Michigan Association of Counties. “It is clear that Michiganders and county commissioners from across the state believe that keeping a local public mental health system is best.”
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