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.