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On Friday, June 28, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a proposal to terminate its contract with The Lakeshore Regional Entity (LRE), effective September 30, 2019. The proposal would eliminate local control of a key component of the public mental health system and inject uncertainty into the region’s management of the Community Mental Health System.
On Thursday, July 12, 2019, the LRE member CMHs: Allegan County CMH, Ottawa County CMH, HealthWest (Muskegon County CMH), Network180 (Kent County CMH) and West Michigan CMH (Mason, Lake and Oceana County CMH), drafted a formal letter to MDHHS expressing “deep concern” about their decision to end the LRE contract,
The model you propose is not innovative, but punitive. It’s not creative, but short-sighted. Most importantly it’s not informed by the data or by careful inquiry into the system and processes at work in the LRE and in the partnership between the LRE and Beacon. The relationship MDHHS strongly endorsed and encouraged is just barely 5 months old and already reaping benefits [...]. This makes your proposed action not strategic or planful, but reactive and retaliatory.
In their letter, sent to Jeffery Wieferich, Director of the Bureau of Community Based Services for MDHHS, they highlight several reasons for their concern:
• The behavioral health system is chronically underfunded, a fact which MDHHS has publicly acknowledged.
• Funding is not distributed equitably throughout the state’s regions. Nine of the ten regions in our state are experiencing budget shortfalls – the LRE was the first to run out of reserves.
• The LRE, in partnership with Beacon Health Options, worked to maximize efficiencies and innovation and is positioned to begin rebuilding its reserves in 2020.
• MDHHS’s decision puts our public behavioral health system at risk by placing administration of public funding under the control of a private entity. As a publicly run system, Community Mental Health agencies put Medicaid funding received into services. All available revenue is invested directly into the system and serving the public. A for-profit company would not be under mandate to ensure the same level of funding goes into services. This could result in a reduction of services beneficial to consumers and families, but not deemed cost-effective by a private entity.
In addition to the letter sent by the LRE member CMHs, a formal letter was sent yesterday by the LRE’s attorney to the State of Michigan demanding a retraction of the intent to cancel the LRE’s contract. There has been no acknowledgement of these letters from MDHHS at the time of this communication.
You can view the CMH member response to MDHHS's decision here.
On Friday, June 28, 2019, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services publicly announced its intent to end the contract with the Lakeshore Regional Entity. The public notice can be found here.
The Lakeshore Regional Entity is responsible for administering Medicaid funding to seven (7) counties in West Michigan: Allegan, Kent, Lake, Mason, Muskegon, Oceana, and Ottawa counties.
SUMMARY OF MDHHS statements:
Network180 assures Kent County consumers, families and our service partners that there is no change to the services delivered or the funding received. The high-quality services provided to Kent County residents will continue without disruption.
“We think this decision by the State is ill-advised because it effectively eliminates local control of an organization which has been jointly led by representatives from across Western Michigan. We are committed to working with the Regional partners to overturn this decision and build solutions that strengthen the local, public behavioral health system in West Michigan. Network180 expects to play an important role in the development of the new direction,” says Bill Riley, Network180’s interim Executive Director.
We will continue to post updates to this page as new information is released.