University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Privatizing the Public Sphere: Should Governments Outsource Health and Human Services?

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April 2017

Allana Akhtar


Local governments in the state and across the country are trending towards outsourcing services to private companies. Although many of these services currently outsource to legal or technical companies to fill knowledge gaps among public employees, increasingly jurisdictions are turning to other types of services to help cut costs, including health and human services. For example, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently proposed privatizing billions of dollars worth of mental health funds — a move met with heavy backlash from citizens, mental health professionals and lobbyists. Though Snyder has since changed the wording in his budget proposal, the question remains: is privatizing health and human services useful for local governments? This paper aims to understand the issues surrounding outsourcing these services and analyze Snyder's proposal with this understanding.

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