On January 15, 2011, Governor Brewer released her proposed budget for next fiscal year (which begins July 1, 2011). One of the budget items would change AHCCCS (Medicaid) eligibility for adults without children (called childless adults). The ADHS currently provides behavioral health services to approximately 5,200 persons with serious mental illnesses that are childless adults. While it may appear, and we were originally concerned, that this would mean that childless adults with a serious mental illness may lose their current benefits if the proposal is implemented, we think there’s a way to ensure that more than 80% of these folks can maintain their current benefits under a different Medicaid category.
We believe that most of the childless adults that have a serious mental illness and are currently receiving services from the ADHS could still qualify for their full benefits including behavioral health services under a different federal category for the disabled (called Supplemental Security Income Medical Assistance Only). Qualifying for this new category requires a review of each person’s medical condition to see whether they meet the standard. We believe that more than 80% of the childless adults with a serious mental illness that are receiving behavioral health services can qualify under the Supplemental Security Income Medical Assistance Only category. This means they would maintain their current benefits.
In order to help these individuals retain coverage, we are instructing our Regional Behavioral Health Authorities and our behavioral health providers to immediately implement a coordinated approach to screen every single childless adult with a serious mental illness that is currently receiving services from the ADHS for eligibility under the Supplemental Security Income Medical Assistance Only category.