My name is Larry Ackerman and I live in Lansing. I am Office and Consumer Programs Coordinator for NAMI Michigan.
Minimizing access to quality mental health medications is simply not worth the savings.
In March, Michigan reeled from its dismal grade of D in NAMI National's Grading the States 2009 report—a disheartening drop from its C grade in 2006. One bright spot that kept our state from sinking lower was our B grade in core treatment/recovery services. Access to antipsychotic and other psychiatric medications contributed to Michigan's strong score in this category.
In 2006, Michigan’s mental health care system received a grade of C. Three years later, it has dropped to a D. As a result of the foundering economy, the need for mental health services is increasing, but the community mental health system is greatly challenged.
In 2004, mental health advocates and providers worked hard with legislators to protect mental health drugs from bureaucratic prior authorization in the state’s Medicaid program. We wanted an end to the dangerous situation whereby medications gained “preferred” Medicaid status only through cost considerations, and doctors and consumers had to seek approval of “non-preferred” prescriptions from a for-profit company in Virginia.