By Jessica Mathews /

A local lawmaker’s plan to improve mental health services has passed the state House, marking his final bill passage before the end of his term.

A bill introduced by Republican State Representative Hank Vaupel of Fowlerville creating a uniform Community Mental Health Services credentialing process was approved Wednesday by the Michigan House of Representatives. Credentialing is the process of obtaining, verifying and assessing the qualifications of a practitioner to provide services for a Community Mental Health organization. The need for uniform credentialing was recognized by the bi-partisan House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force, which identified it as a way to improve the process for providers and make it easier to accept Medicaid patients.

Vaupel, who chairs the House Health Policy Committee and co-chaired the Task Force, said his legislation is the first step in overhauling universal credentialing for Medicaid by starting with a smaller subset of mental health services. Vaupel said uniform credentialing is less burdensome on behavioral health Medicaid providers than becoming credentialed through each separate health plan in order to provide Medicaid services. He says if a provider receives credentialing for one behavioral Medicaid health plan, then they should not have to go through a similar process with additional health plans.

The bill marks Vaupel’s last piece of legislation to pass the House, as his final term as state representative comes to a close on December 31st. Vaupel said it has been an honor to serve as an advocate for the people of Livingston County and to help improve the outlook of health care, especially mental health care, in the state of Michigan. He said mental health remains a top priority for the Michigan Legislature and he’s eager to see further improvements in the coming years.

The plan, House Bill 5178, received overwhelming bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate and now moves to the governor for her signature.