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Whitmer proposes $1.4 billion plan to beef up health care in Michigan

Gov. Whitmer speaks at the State Emergency Operations Center on May 4, 2020 (State of Michigan...
Gov. Whitmer speaks at the State Emergency Operations Center on May 4, 2020 (State of Michigan photo)(WLUC)
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 11:44 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to spend $1.4 billion to enhance Michigan’s health care system and fill gaps recognized during the coronavirus pandemic.

Whitmer unveiled the MI Healthy Communities plan on Tuesday as her latest proposal for spending the state’s share of American Rescue Plan money. The plan includes spending on mental health care, telemedicine, nursing homes and local health departments.

Right now, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity after a once-in-a-century crisis to make families healthier and safer, and I look forward to working with the legislature to spend the billions of federal dollars we have to expand care, build up facilities, and invest in every community,” Whitmer said.

The MI Healthy Communities plan is broken into three phases:

  • Expanding care for families with $335 million to increase capacity for community-based behavioral health and substance use disorder treatments, $20 million for telemedicine, $20 million for respite care services and $19 million for foster families.
  • Enhancing health infrastructure with $325 million to build a new state psychiatric hospital in Southeast Michigan to replace the Hawthorn Center and Walter Reuther Psychiatric Hospital, $220 million for a new state public health laboratory, $39 million to improve infection control in nursing homes, $77 million to retain direct care workers and more.
  • Improving local public health programs with $115 million for state database enhancements, $66 million for predictive analytics aimed at connecting people with community resources, $45 million to help local health departments afford COVID-19 services not covered by other funding and more.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel said half of people who receive a behavioral health diagnosis and 70% of those with a substance abuse disorder across the state do not receive treatment.

“This impacts the individual, their families and their communities,” she said. “The investments Governor Whitmer is making in the health of Michiganders provide a golden opportunity to change this narrative and ensure Michiganders can access the services they need in their own backyard.”

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