By Linda Kor
With the changes taking place regarding health care coverage, the Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority (NARBHA) is reaching out to individuals with serious mental illness who may be at risk of losing free or low-cost mental health care services.
Heidi Fuller, director of communications for NARBHA, explained, “There are roughly 2,000 people in northern Arizona diagnosed with serious mental illness. The state has provided Non-Title 19 SMI (serious mental illness) funds for those who qualify, but because of Medicaid restoration for childless adults this year, those funds will dwindle.”
In 2011 Proposition 204 suspended Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) benefits for childless adults, and for those with serious mental illness Non-Title 19 SMI funds took over to pay for those services. Medicaid services have now been restored, so those individuals will now need to apply for AHCCCS or, if they do not qualify, a federal health plan.
“If they qualify for a federal health plan, but don’t sign up by the deadline they could be penalized or see a disruption in services,” Fuller explained. The deadline to sign up for a health plan is March 31.
Fuller said that NARBHA is reaching out to those individuals and their families to let them know that free services are available to help navigate the process. “Appointments can be made at any North Country HealthCare facility in northern Arizona, where someone will be on hand to walk them through the procedure of applying. We want to make certain that people sign up soon, because it can take up to 45 days to enroll and, again, we don’t want any services to be disrupted.”
For more information on the free enrollment assistance, contact North Country HealthCare in Holbrook at (928) 524-2851 or in Winslow at (928) 289-2000.
By Linda Kor