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Gov. Whitmer proposing $1.4 billion to invest in Michigan’s healthcare

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 12:11 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Governor Gretchen Whitmer is looking to invest more into Michigan’s healthcare system.

Tuesday, Governor Whitmer announced her MI Healthy Communities plan, a $1.4 billion proposal 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.

If passed, the plan would address issues in Michigan’s healthcare revealed by the pandemic, such as mental health. The plan also aims to expand access to telemedicine, upgrade nursing homes, and bolster local 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,” said Governor Whitmer. “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.”

$335 million would be used to increase capacity for local mental health and substance abuse facilities, something the President of the Michigan Psychological Association says has been a major issue.

“Access to quality mental health care is a major issue in Michigan. The Governor’s plan would address this problem in a big way,” said Antu Segal, PsyD, ABPP, President of the Michigan Psychological Association. “Our organization recognizes that additional behavioral health providers are needed to address the increased rates of mental health disorders in Michigan residents.”

$325 million would be used to build a new state psychiatric facility in Southeast Michigan to replace the Hawthorn Center and Walter Reuther Psychiatric Hospital, providing more beds for youth psychiatric patients.

Another $39 million would be invested to improve HVAC systems, provide more beds, and provide more infection control training for nursing home staff. $77 million would be delegated to help retain healthcare workers by providing bonuses, improved training and enhanced employment support services. Melissa Samuel, President & CEO of Health Care Association of Michigan said the investment is critical in helping keep the best of the best.

“Investing in the infrastructure of Michigan’s skilled nursing facilities is essential in the efforts to continue to protect residents from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases,” said Samuel. “Using this funding to invest in our caregivers will encourage dedicated individuals to stay in the profession. We appreciate Governor Whitmer’s support of our providers and the residents they serve.”

Lastly, the plan would use $285 million to put towards grants for health departments, establishing a COVID-19 recovery program, and providing trauma training for staff in childcare institutions.

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