Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Steep cuts to Detroit area mental health budgets

This if from the DDadvocates Newsletter, November 2013, by Ed Diegel:

Welcome the Detroit Wayne County Mental Health Authority 

Lobby Against unprecedented Cuts to Mental Health Budgets in the Tri County Area

We have been slow to acknowledge the new Detroit Wayne County Mental Health Authority and to welcome its new leader, Tom Watkins. We should all do this as birth of the new Authority represents a first step away from complaints of bad politics and county mismanagement of the old Detroit Wayne County Mental Health Agency.

The new organization is barely on board and the State has announced steep cuts to the Wayne, Macomb and Oakland Mental Health Budgets for the 2014 Fiscal Year which began October 1, 2013.

For Wayne County the cuts are $15.0 million. So much for the State commitment to one of the most impoverished areas in the country. Macomb and Oakland cuts will be 11% and 7% respectively. The cuts effective October 1, 2013 were not announced until September 27, 2013! This timing comes from an administration that wants to run the state like a business. No successful business does such poor planning that it announces policy shifts and budget
actions of this magnitude 3 days before a budget cycle. The rationale for the cuts is that Wayne, Oakland and Macomb receive a disproportionate share of the state’s Medicaid dollars and therefore these reductions followed by incremental 5% reductions each year over time were put in place. There is no attempt here to measure the disproportionate concentration or severity of persons served, or differences in cost of living or other factors that a reasonable party might use. Furthermore according to one analysis, there is within the plan also disproportionate reduction of funding for persons with Developmental Disabilities.

To my knowledge, this is not a legislative action—the State Department of Mental Health led by Mr. James Haveman is responsible for this action. Furthermore, it is of such significant importance that the Directors of Mental Health in the three counties sent a joint letter of protest to Lansing—hopefully this is a sign of a new era of cooperation flowing from the new Authority.

What to do?

Please do this today—

  1. Go to the new DWMHA web site  Go to the Contact Us page and send a message to Tom Watkins welcoming him and encouraging him and his staff in the new organization. Take the time to mention any gaps or unmet needs you are aware of in
    service delivery to persons with developmental disabilities.
  2. Go to the DWMHA Home Page and find the link to your legislators
  3. Use the link to send a note to your Representative and your Senator and inform them that the so-called Mental Health rebasing action will further dismantle services in the most needy counties of the state, is ill conceived and will create yet further economic burden in the tri county area. 
  4.  Ask each of them to tell you what they will do to intercede. Don’t assume your legislator will support you in this. Remember, most Wayne County legislators voted AGAINST the creation on the newAuthority!
Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!!

Ed Diegel,
Advocates for Persons with Developmental Disabilities in Wayne County.
and now at

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