GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Mental health services are being scaled back in western Michigan as regional agencies struggle with budget deficits.

Network 180 in Kent County is facing a $10 million shortfall for fiscal year 2016-17, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

The Lakeshore Regional Entity shortfall is estimated to be as much as $23 million. The shortfall represents about 8 percent of the total budget and will drain nearly all cash reserves.

Network 180 expects to reduce expenses by about $2.8 million by cutting services, eliminating 17 jobs and freezing hiring for another 15 positions.

Network 180 coordinates services for people with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities and substance-abuse disorders. It began seeing a growing number of patients leaving traditional Medicaid in favor of the Healthy Michigan Plan in 2017.

Healthy Michigan is the state’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which began drawing patients because it’s simpler and provides better benefits.

The shift may be good for clients, but it also means a decrease in reimbursements for local community mental health programs, said Robert Sheehan, chief executive of the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan, an advocacy group.

Other regions could see their reserves drop next year if Medicaid reimbursement rates aren’t adjusted quickly.

Lakeshore Regional Entity and Network 180 won’t be allowed to cut any mandated services for Medicaid recipients, said Lynda Zeller, director of the Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Administration within state government.


Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, http://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids