A 32-year-old entertainment lawyer, incapacitated by bipolar disorder, loses her case manager and less than two months later tries to take her own life.
A 57-year-old registered nurse, also bipolar, is forced to switch to generic drugs. She, too, begins a downward spiral as the drugs don't affect her well.
A 47-year-old laundry attendant with two diagnoses of serious mental illness fears she'll have to quit her job to get the mental-health coverage she needs.
The three Southern Arizonans are among 28,000 state residents affected by drastic cuts to behavioral health this year.
The cuts, which amount to a $65 million drop since 2008, affect Arizonans who need behavioral-health services but do not qualify for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), which is the state's version of Medicaid and is for Arizona's poorest residents. The cuts represent a 52 percent reduction over two fiscal years.
In addition to providing mental-health coverage for Arizonans on Medicaid, the state has historically offered mental-health services patients often can't get through their regular insurance. That included prescription-drug coverage, case managers, bus passes, cab fare and other therapeutic support. The latest cuts took away coverage for most name-brand drugs and slashed all other support services for non-Medicaid behavioral-health patients.
The cuts are unprecedented in Arizona and in the long term could impact taxpayers and health-care providers by putting more pressure on jails and emergency rooms.
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Mental Health Cuts Are Life-Threatening for Some