Support Arizona Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) that implements mental health parity and essential health benefits, restores coverage of the Prop 204 population to Medicaid, and expands coverage to additional populations.
The Council received a SAMHSA Technical Assistance Grant to educate a committee of members on Health Insurance Exchanges. Working with Peter Burns and Associates, the Council developed recommendations, which were presented to the Governor’s staff. The analysis from Peter Burns and Associates and our committee recommendations influenced the Governor to select the state employee health plan as the benchmark plan. This will be used by the federal agency that is developing the Arizona HIX. This benchmark plan is the best option for behavioral health parity.
Support Medicaid Restoration/Expansion
As part of the Arizona Healthcare Coalition, the Council encouraged the Governor to support Medicaid restoration. Council members were very involved in supporting the plan proposed by the Governor. Staff represented the Council and its members on the stakeholder group that met weekly with the Governor’s staff to strategize on the media and legislative activities. Council members and staff were very engaged in the Press Conference with the Governor on Behavioral Health and the Restoration Rally. Members wrote op-eds, letters to their state representatives, and worked to get support from community partners. Our “Day at the Capitol” emphasized the Medicaid plan; we had over 140 people who attended and met with their legislators.
Reform of Board of Behavioral Health Examiners
Beginning May 2012, the Council met with a BBHE stakeholder group to suggest changes in policies and procedures, which resulted in some changes that were implemented by the board. We developed a separate stakeholder group of professional associations, licensee groups, and academics to develop a set of reforms and to prepare for the sunset review. We were successful in getting the sunset review committee to recommend a six year sunset rather than the full 10 years. The shorter review period allowed for implementation structural revisions and extensive rule making. Rory Hays, our lobbyist, drafted the statutory changes and worked tirelessly with the sponsors, the BBHE lobbyist, and the Governor’s legislative staff to get a reform bill that would be acceptable to all.
Over 100 people signed in support of the bill at Senate and House hearings. Many more wrote and visited with their legislators. Council staff facilitated media coverage on the need for reform.
The Governor’s staff is working with the Council on appointments to the board.
We paid for legal services to establish legal precedents that we believe will be helpful for people who have been harmed in the past and need a basis for reconsideration of their licensure issues.
OBHL Licensure Revisions—support revisions that support current practice and integration with emphasis on health and safety.
Council members worked on all of the committees during the rules revision. We successfully engaged Cory Nelson, Division Director of DBHS, to reverse the direction of OBHL on the respite rules and rules for adult therapeutic foster homes, creating a new category of respite care that will preserve existing systems of care and allow for respite in homes that are not subject to the outpatient clinic license requirements. Council staff worked with DHS on a statutory provision that extended the deadline for the rule making process. The rules revision process revealed a need for changes to the DHS statute. The Council will work with DHS on statutory revisions for the 2014 legislative session.
Funding for DES and CPS
The explosion in the number reports of child abuse and neglect, resulting in record numbers of children in out of home care has created a crisis and the need for additional funding for services. The Council worked with DES and the Governor to increase funding, including emergency funding for CPS workers that was approved at the beginning of the legislative session. The report Saves Lives, Saves Money was published for use during the legislative session. It told the story of the number of children in state custody and the need for resources for family preservation, support and intervention services, and CPS staff and was distributed to members, legislators, and the community.
Working closely with Children’s Action Alliance, we were able to educate legislators on the need for all of the services on the continuum—from education to prevention to early intervention and family remediation. The Senate budget added funds for family preservation.
The Council worked with DES to correct the interruptions in funding for in home and visitation services that resulted in multiple staff being laid off. We continue to work with them on clearing up back payments and improving delays in licensing of foster homes.