After attending the forum hosted by the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona last week I am no less concerned about what is going to happen to the covered benefits for the huge population of adults with serious mental illness that do not qualify for the state’s Medicaid system (AHCCCS) after July 1st. The Assistant Deputy Director from the Arizona Health Services Division of Behavioral Health Services explained some of the impact the cuts would have and offered a few suggestions on how the impacts might be minimized.
“Thinking outside the box” was a phrase heard repeatedly and for many attending that answer was not enough to calm their fears. For a population accustomed to difficulties finding appropriate mental health care that particular phrase has become a mantra.
One question about how the non-title XIX residents will be covered if they are currently in the Arizona State Hospital was never answered.
Of major concern to me is the misguided thought by some in Phoenix that people that are currently taking some of the more expensive, newer anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers and anti-depressants can now be administered some of the older, less expensive drugs to save money. What he forgot to say when talking about the older, less expensive medications is that they don’t work for some people. Hence the reason for being prescribed the newer, more effective medications. Plus, the newer medications don’t have some of the debilitating side effects that the older medications cause. (Although, I must admit all of these medications do have some sort of negative side effect)
Even when a certain medication is successfully treating some of the symptoms today, next week, next month or next year it may loose it’s efficacy and a new medication will need to be introduced; most likely a newer drug.
The state’s crisis system which had up until recently seen some positive advances is now experiencing limited funding as well. It was suggested at the meeting that family members “step up” to the plate and do what they can to cover the shortages like manning all night crisis phone lines, etc. on a volunteer basis. Hum…….I guess that might work if their loved one isn’t in a crisis because their newly prescribed medication is working!