The Governor and I and the plaintiffs in the 1981 Arnold v. Sarn lawsuit signed a landmark agreement today which will last 2 years (pending the court’s approval). Today’s agreement outlines objectives for supported care and services for folks with a serious mental illness. Over the next couple of years we’ll work together with the plaintiffs to enhance Arizona’s behavioral health system with a focus on a Recovery model built on community supports like skill-building, self-management of health conditions, coaching, community-based peer and family support, employment, and community integration. We’re also pleased that the new agreement incorporates national best-practice models and standards.
Today’s agreement also ties into the additional $38.7M we received in the budget that was recently signed. That funding is for community-based, recovery-oriented behavioral health services for folks with a serious mental illness that don’t qualify for Medicaid (AHCCCS). Our next task is to build our investment plan for those funds- and that means getting solid Stakeholder input to help us make important advancements in our service delivery and to demonstrate Arizona’s commitment to using effective community-based services and supports that allow individuals with serious mental illnesses to live successfully in their own homes and communities.
We’ll be hosting several stakeholder meetings next week to share our thoughts and hear ideas and proposed approaches on the best use for this funding. Our meeting with our Tribal and Regional Behavioral Health Authority partners will be on next Tuesday and our meetings with behavioral health providers, including peer and family-run organizations that serve individuals with serious mental illnesses will be next Wednesday. You can see more detail in Dr. Nelson’s Stakeholder Letter.
I can’t divvy all the blame to our mental health system. I draw 988 per month through social security disability however, I can get no more than 930 to qualify for ahcccs. I called to ask if I could get a deduction for rent and other expenses. In short I was told “that if deductions are allowed then everybody have ahcccs” By not including my monthly deductions, It is indirectly assumed my check is free and clear. In actuality, I am very lucky if I have about 80 dollars after all bills are paid. I wonder why the state’s requirements are much lower in terms of services. Is ahcccs telling me that I need to call social security and tell them to send 58 dollars less so I can qualify for ahcccs and therefore title 19. The truth of the matter that I’m SMI and suffered a stroke in 2008. I need these service and they were yank from beneath me even without a letter to explain and it took me well over 12 calls to DES, AHCCCS and Social Security. For my trouble there was a lot passing the buck and he said, she said. I appreciate the efforts but that doesn’t return my services that I heavily relied upon. To my this is yet another attempt to gain my faith in something that has demonstrated otherwise, nice try though.
This has been a very trying time for people who have SMI but are not able to qualify for AHCCCS. This year’s budget will allow ADHS to help the non-Title XIX people with SMI. Dr. Nelson blogged about the upcoming changes last month. You can give us more feedback about the upcoming changes on our website.