STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.
State of Opportunity will be shining a spotlight on the issue of infant mortality this winter. Check back for news, resources, and personal stories.

Infant mortality, mental health funding on chopping block

user: bradbrundage

Update: 2:06 p.m.: My colleague Dustin Dwyer was surfing the web today and came across this incredibly moving song about a young father and his son who died too soon.

Given what this web post was about today, I had to share. With lyrics like "his whole hand wrapped around my finger, he was premature / they said he need me, but I felt I really need him more," the song grabs your heart and doesn't let go.

When we aired our Infant Mortality documentary, we created a dedicatedcollection of stories from parents whose children were in the NICU or who lost a child. Some of these stories are sad, of course, but some are very hopeful. The site is called Too small, too early, or gone too soon.

6:00 a.m.

As you probably heard, a state House subcommittee last week rejected an expansion of Medicaid to more than 400,000 Michigan residents.

But that's not all the House Community Health Appropriations Subcommittee turned down. Here's an excerpt from The Detroit News:

The subcommittee voted 6-2 to approve an austere budget that also slashed funding for the Health Kids dental care program, infant mortality prevention and mental health services for veterans. The $15.3 billion plan is $1.3 billion smaller than Snyder's community health budget.

So how much moneyare we talking about? Well, here's what Governor Rick Snyder asked for in his executive budget recommendations:

  • $60,000 to expand mental health treatment for veterans
  • $5 million for innovation grants for mental health treatment for children and youth
  • $2.5 million increase to address safe sleep practices and other ways to avoid infant mortality.

The House subcommittee said no to all each of those, and more.
Now, Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta says he expects the Legislature will ultimately accept federal money to expand Michigan’s Medicaid program. But what about mental health treatment funding and infant mortality prevention?

Michigan's infant mortality rate has persistently been higher than the national rate for two decades. For every 1,000 babies born in Michigan, roughly seven won't make it to their first birthday. Break it down by race, and the numbers are even more disturbing.

You can check out our previous reporting on infant mortality: the problem, the causes, and possible solutions. And while you're there, ask yourself: Can we afford not to increase funding for infant mortality prevention?

Jennifer is a reporter with Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and worked as a producer for WFUV in the Bronx.
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