Letters to the Editor

Funding uncertainty

Dear Editor,
One of the most devastating consequences of unearned privilege — both for those of us on top and, for very different reasons, those who suffer beneath — is the death of empathy.
Through our 43 years of advocacy involvement on behalf of our two adult sons, who are both on the autism spectrum, and others who have special needs, my wife and I can’t recall a more challenging time when it comes to advocating for the human, civil and constitutional rights of adults with special needs.
We clearly understand and can accept the need for change in any system or process, but as we look at the landscape surrounding key issues that impact Community Mental Health today, there are major and concurrent funding, operational and contractual changes being considered at federal, state and local levels.
There is uncertainty at a federal level as to how revisions in the Affordable Care Act will impact CMH from both a policy and funding perspective.
There is uncertainty at a state level as to section 298 boiler plate that will determine what I refer to as “The Power Of The Purse” related to who will manage the $2.5 billion in Medicaid funding for behavioral health.
There is uncertainty at a local level as public CMH entities like Macomb, Oakland and Detroit Wayne are making radical operational and organizational changes in their organizations to ensure they remain relevant considering “future state” unknowns that result from final section 298 recommendations that will soon be in front of the Governor for his signature.
All of this “churn” and “uncertainty” in a CMH system that has been grossly under funded for years has now reached a point of desperation on the part of legislators, Pre-paid Inpatient Health Plans (PIHPs), the provider network, parent advocates and guardians, and yes, the most important stakeholders in the whole process and the stakeholders that have the most to lose – the recipients of Medicaid Behavioral Health services.
What we have read in the 2018FY budget recommendations that came out of the House and Senate Appropriation Sub-committees for Health & Human Services last week is certainly proof to my wife and I that the “voice of the voiceless” as well as our voice is being ignored at a state level.
How else can you explain the recommendation from both the house and senate committees to either reduce or delay the $.50 per hour wage increase for direct care providers when the section 1009 study commissioned by the legislature themselves warned that staffing crisis that exists across the provider network in Michigan was at risk of complete failure if the state did not approve a $2 an hour increase for the DCP job sector.
How else can you explain the section 298 recommendation from both the house and senate committees that completely ignored the “voice of the voiceless” as well as the parent advocates and guardians who represent the voice of recipients, who participated in the section 298 Workgroup Meetings, Affinity Group meetings and testified in front of the house and senate Appropriation Sub-committees for Health and Human Services emphasizing that they “did not want” to move Medicaid Behavioral Health funding to Managed Health Care Providers, but instead wanted to further optimize the public CMH process.
The health and human services related recommendations that were moved to the full house and full senate appropriation committees last week are proof enough to my wife and I that the recommendations and decisions being made by many in Lansing have nothing or very little to do with representing the “voice of he voiceless” or for that matter the “voice of the constituents” that voted to elect the legislators who are ignoring what we say is best for our loved ones.
Instead, it would appear that the irresponsible recommendations and H & HS budget reductions coming out of the house and senate committees last week were heavily influenced by a self imposed mandate to reduce all budgets to subsidize future income tax cuts and in response to lobbying by special interest groups (Managed Health Care Providers) who stand to profit on the backs of those that can’t speak for themselves.
Robert and Sue White
Independence Township, parent advocates For Fred and Michael White

History of walls

Dear Editor,
Mr Trump seems somewhat ignorant of history.
Has he heard of the the Great Wall of China? Hadrian’s wall in England and the Berlin Wall? All failed! In addition a look at a map reveals a thing called the Gulf of Mexico which will provide and easy end-run around his wall.
Perhaps we can save several billion dollars?
John Reed
Independence Township