Gov. Whitmer July 15, 2021

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) has been awarded a $10 million federal grant to support the state’s registered apprenticeship expansion efforts and increase employment opportunities for Michiganders. 

(The Center Square) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her $1.4 billion MI Healthy Communities plan to expand care for families, build up facilities, and invest in local public health with federal relief dollars from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

The plan would provide resources to meet Michigan families’ mental health needs, expand behavioral care and telemedicine access, upgrade nursing homes, and bolster local public health departments.

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated critical gaps in our health system, and the MI Healthy Communities plan makes long-overdue investments to put Michigan families first,” Whitmer said in a statement. “My plan would invest in mental health care, build up health infrastructure, keep seniors safe from infectious diseases, and provide resources to families and local health departments to expand and improve care. 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.”

The MI Healthy Communities plan has three key areas.

 Expanding Care for Families

  • $335 million to increase capacity for community-based behavioral health and substance use disorder treatments. Grants will improve access statewide for:
    • Interventions for people with autism spectrum disorder
    • Mental health crisis supports
    • Residential and community-based services for children
    • Substance Use Disorder detoxification
    • Inpatient hospital services
  • $20 million in telemedicine infrastructure support to build, equip, and operate secure rooms to access telehealth services at public locations
  • $20 million to provide respite care services
  • $19 million in additional financial support for foster parents. Support would be $1,500 lump-sum payments to caregivers and independent living, foster children.

Building Up Health Infrastructure

  • $39 million for infection control in nursing homes, including HVAC improvements
  • $325 million to build a new state psychiatric facility in Southeast Michigan to replace the Hawthorn Center and Walter Reuther Psychiatric Hospital
  • $220 million to create a new, state-of-the-art public health laboratory
  • $77 million to retain direct care workers with bonus payments, improved training, and enhanced employment support services to address barriers to entry into the field
  • $40 million in home repair and plumbing assistance to support minor home and plumbing repair needs for residents with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level
  • $10 million to provide grants to homeless shelters for health-focused improvements and repairs

Investing in Local Communities

  • $45 million in grants to local public health departments for essential purchases related to the pandemic not covered by other federal funds, including mobile healthcare access, community outreach, and COVID testing and vaccination
  • $15 million to establish the COVID-19 Recovery Network Navigator Program, which would support community health workers to connect Michiganders with continued COVID symptoms with care
  • $13 million in grants to private childcare institutions for staff training in trauma-informed treatment
  • $11 million to fund trauma-informed community-building grants
  • $10 million in training funds for public health leadership to address trauma-informed management practices in the post-COVID world
  • $10 million to implement employee wellness supports for the public health workforce
  • $115 million in state-operated health information technology systems such as the Michigan Care Improvement Registry, Michigan Disease Surveillance System, Michigan Health Information Network, and other technical systems to improve interconnectivity and better coordinate critical resources
  • $66 million to enhance MIBridges, supporting predictive analytics that connects people to the nutrition, housing, healthcare, and other services they may need 

Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel welcomed the plan. 

“It is just as important that we find these meaningful ways to address behavioral health as it is to address physical health at any stage of life. Everyone should have access to the behavioral health services they need when they need them,” Hertel said in a statement. “Yet, over half of Michiganders with a behavioral health diagnosis and nearly 70% with a substance use disorder do not receive treatment. This impacts the individual, their families and their communities.”

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.