Sheriff Rutter & County Board strongly opposed to privatization of mental health services

(Tuesday - October 12, 2021) - The Dickinson County Board of Commissioners was joined by County Sheriff Scott Rutter on Monday, voicing strong opposition to possible privatization of mental health services in Michigan. The issue is getting the attention of local lawmakers, following discussions in both the Michigan House and Senate, floating the idea of privatization of mental health services within the State.

Sheriff Rutter said he fears that his department will not be able to handle mentally ill individuals under the cost restraints being proposed under privatization. Sheriff Rutter also said he fears that those most in need of treatment for mental health issues will not receive that treatment under a private system, unless they have insurance to cover that treatment.

In addition, the Sheriff pointed out, "The public system has developed a lot of partnerships, community partnerships, to collaborate on the care of these individuals, with the sheriffs, with the school with other local organizations." Sheriff Rutter concluded, "There are so many reasons why this is a terrible proposal, and I would hate to see it happen." The Sheriff thanked the Board of Commissioners for their attention to the matter.

Board agrees with Sheriff

The Board agreed with the Sheriff, and adopted the following language in their resolution:

Whereas, recent proposals in the House and Senate fundamentally change the public behavioral health system and will harm those served by the system, the Dickinson County Board of Commissioners opposes these proposals because:

- Beneficiaries would stand to lose access to services, supports and input into the design and operation of their services and supports system. Many Michiganders would be left out of the redesign proposals completely.

- Public oversight, governance, operations and accountability would be ended.

- Current proposals for redesign are not based on performance metrics related to positive outcomes, effectiveness and efficiency measures associated with the current public system. Also, there is no clear statement about the problems that the House and Senate are attempting to address or solve.

- The Senate proposal specifically incentivizes and prioritizes profits too private companies at the expense of the public and the beneficiaries served by the public behavioral health system.

The resolution adopted by the Board is summarized:

Therefore be it resolved that we request that the Michigan Legislature support improvements in the delivery of publicly governed, publicly accountable, publicly operated regional and community-based systems, invest in and expand initiatives that are proven to improve citizen access, beneficiary policy making representatives support, improve and strengthen the public behavioral health safety net system, and that engagement, individuals and population health, behavioral well-being, resiliency, quality of life and community betterment such as those mentioned above. These are among the daily, weekly, and yearly accomplishments of the public system that would be destroyed by pursuing these new legislative proposals.

Copies of the resolution will be forwarded to all involved State officials.