89.1 WEMU

Hundreds Gather To Oppose Mental Health Overhaul

May 11, 2017

Mental health administrators Nicole Lawson, Christina Nicholas, and Jillian Trumbell demonstrate at the Michigan Capitol.
Credit Rick Pluta / MPRN

There was a big rally at the state Capitol Wednesday to support improved mental health services and to oppose Governor Rick Snyder’s plan to overhaul how those services are paid for.


The Snyder administration and publicly funded mental health agencies have been at odds over an overhaul plan.  It would allow private insurance companies to manage $2.5 billion in Medicaid funds earmarked for mental health.

“When you hand over publicly funded services to a profit-driven organization, people hurt and people suffer, and taxpayers should be paying attention to this,” said Nicole Lawson, who is an Oakland County mental health services administrator.

Leo Rohn is a patient who also serves on several mental health advisory boards.  He’s concerned that private management of mental health funds will limit access to medications.  “They’re going to have limits on levels and who qualifies and the medications they need to live and function will be taken away from them,” he said.  “People’s lives will be destroyed.” 

Governor Snyder says the plan’s focus is not on controlling money, but bringing together physical health care and mental health services.  He says private insurance companies could help cut management costs. 

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org