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OCCMHA Implements New “Service Wait List” Policy

Effective Tuesday, July 15, 2014, all persons requesting out-patient services from Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority (OCCMHA) that require the use of General Fund resources, and whose service needs meet the service priority guidelines established by the organization’s clinical staff, will be place on a Service Wait List. However, this will only happen after an individual has been assessed, their immediate crisis needs have been met, and the situation is stabilized by Common Ground.

“The State recently removed approximately $20 million of General Fund dollars from OCCMHA’s budget. This decision was made with the understanding that many people who we had been serving through the General Fund would now be insured under Healthy Michigan,” explains OCCMHA Executive Director Willie Brooks. “Unfortunately, federal restrictions regarding the use of Healthy Michigan funding has created an $8 million General Fund gap that we are addressing, in part, through the “Service Wait List” policy.”

 Assistance provided to individuals by OCCMHA’s service network is funded primarily through Medicaid, as well as the State’s General Fund, Healthy Michigan, and Local dollars from Oakland County.  In 2014, OCCMHA received a $14 million Medicaid rate reduction. This reduction is the result of the Michigan Department of Community Health’s (MDCH) actions to establish a uniformed Medicaid state funding average for all ten community mental health regions.

 Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid Expansion (Healthy Michigan), OCCMHA used its unrestricted General Fund dollars to meet a community need that is now being addressed by both of these healthcare plans.

 Using criteria specified by OCCMHA, Common Ground and OCCMHA service providers have the ability to add an individual to the Service Waiting List. If it appears that an individual qualifies for Healthy MI, Medicaid, or MIChild benefits, Common Ground will connect him/her with an OCCMHA service provider. Both Common Ground and the service provider can assist in the application process.

 A person’s position on the wait list is determined by the severity and urgency of his/her needs. "Severity Scale" guidelines used to evaluate an individual’s situation are based on OCCMHA’s level of care guidelines and risk assessment.  

OCCMHA will manage/monitor the list using a customized computer program to maximize the movement of people from the list to services. While new to Oakland County, wait list programs have been used by other public mental health systems in the state since 2010.

 Individuals who are applying for public mental health services for the first time and are added to the wait list have the right to request a “review of decision” through Common Ground. OCCMHA’s Customer Services can assist with this request as well.

 “The patience and support of the community is greatly appreciated as we navigate through this new system delivery model,” adds Brooks. “I want to assure the people we serve, our service providers, and our community partners that we are doing our best to work within our financial means to ensure that people who turn to us for help continue to receive the quality assistance that they deserve.”

 About OCCMHA

Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority is the public mental health system responsible for identifying, influencing, and delivering services and supports to more than 23,000 Oakland County residents, including adults and children with developmental disabilities; adults with serious mental illness or substance use disorders; and children with serious emotional disturbance. 

OCCMHA’s network of service providers include: Common Ground, Community Housing Network, Community Living Services, Community Network Services, Easter Seals Michigan, Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, Oakland Family Services, Inc., and Training and Treatment Innovations. For more information about OCCMHA call (800) 341-2003 or visit www.occmha.org.  

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