Worried About Suicide? ACT

Worried about suicide? ACT.During the winter holidays, it is common to spend time with friends and family you may not otherwise see often. During the holiday party or family meal, you may notice someone isn’t acting like himself or herself. If you notice a friend or family member who is: abusing substances, sleeping abnormally–either too much or too little, or, not participating socially as is his/her norm, have a frank conversation.

Remember to ACT: Ask, Care, Treat

A: Ask directly, “How are you feeling?” And if you are concerned ask, “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”

C: Care. Listen to what the person has to say without interrupting or trying to nullify their feelings.

T: Treat. Get the person help.

The ACT model is used by the US Navy as a reminder for how to reach out to those who may be struggling and unsure of how to ask for help. If the person you are concerned about has a plan to die by suicide, do not leave him/her alone. If necessary, call 9-1-1 or the crisis line for help. It is important this person receive immediate care.

Find the Arizona crisis line listed on the  AHCCCS Crisis web page or below:

In Maricopa County (served by Mercy Care): 1-800-631-1314 or 602-222-9444

Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz and Yuma Counties (served by Arizona Complete Health – Complete Care Plan): 1-866-495-6735

Apache, Coconino, Gila, Mohave, Navajo and Yavapai Counties (served by Steward Health Choice Arizona): 1-877-756-4090

Gila River and Ak-Chin Indian Communities (served by EMPACT): 1-800-259-3449

Having the courage to ask how a person is feeling emotionally, and then truly listening to the response, can save lives. Help is available 24 hours a day at the National Suicide Prevention line by calling  1-800-273-TALK.

If you have questions about suicide prevention resources in Arizona, or are interested in becoming involved in this work statewide, contact the Suicide Prevention Specialist at kelli.williams@azahcccs.gov.



OIFA Bureau Chief Kathy Bashor Announces Retirement

Kathy Bashor
Photo: Kathy Bashor, Bureau Chief, AHCCCS Office of Individual and Family Affairs

Kathy Bashor, Bureau Chief of the AHCCCS Office of Individual and Family Affairs (OIFA), recently announced her retirement. Since joining AHCCCS in 2016 when the Division of Behavioral Health Services moved to AHCCCS from the Arizona Department of Health Services, Kathy has made a lasting impact on members and employees alike.

“Kathy has been a tireless advocate to ensure that the voice of AHCCCS members and families are front and center in all our decisions,” said Director Tom Betlach. “I have personally benefited from the patience, determination, and knowledge that she has shared with me over the years. Kathy has been instrumental in our efforts to improve services for AHCCCS members and she will be missed.”

As an advocate and leader in the field of Peer and Family Support, she was instrumental in advancing a peer credentialing program that has now generated more certified peer support specialists per 100,000 residents than any other state in the nation. Numerous awards and accolades demonstrate the depth of her commitment. In 2018, she received the Max Dine Advocacy Award from David’s Hope for outstanding leadership in mental health criminal justice. She also received the 2017 ASU Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy Leadership in Advocacy award for her sustained contributions to the accessibility, availability and effectiveness of behavioral health services in Arizona.

“Kathy has been a tireless advocate to ensure that the voice of AHCCCS members and families are front and center in all our decisions.”

Dana Hearn, assistant director of the Division of Health Care Advocacy and Advancement, has worked with Kathy for almost eight years. “Kathy has such a presence about her that those around her are immediately filled with zest and a force of your own just by being around her. And to be in her presence is to adore her.  Good days and bad, Kathy brings the utmost sincerity and passion for all that she does.  She is an advocate through and through and one of the best humans I have ever known,” Hearn said.

As Kathy generously shared her story of lived experience and her expertise, AHCCCS employees benefited. Through a partnership with PSA Art Awakenings, Kathy organized an art display at the Phoenix campus as a way to start dialog with colleagues about the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Every year, she has encouraged employees to join “The Soul of AHCCCS” walk team in support of NAMI, the American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide, and the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center. Along with OIFA staff, she generously volunteered time to formal and informal staff training. Everyone who had the pleasure of working alongside Kathy came away with greater understanding of mental illness, the stigma that surrounds it, access to treatment options and tools to support our communities.

AHCCCS is deeply grateful to Kathy for her service to members, families and our extended community.



Results of the 2018 Arizona State Legislative Session

Arizona CapitolBills that successfully navigated the 2018 legislative process and were signed by the Governor generally become law ninety days following the end of the legislative session.  This is called the General Effective Date, and this year it falls on August 3. AHCCCS must take steps to implement these new laws, which often include updates to rules, contracts, policies, provider registration, claims processing, financial monitoring and reporting, the state plan, and in some instances even the waiver. Some laws are more complicated and time consuming to implement than others.

A variety of bills signed into law this year that will have long-lasting impacts to the Medicaid program and the state. Of the 1,206 bills that were introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, 369 passed and 346 were signed into law by the Governor.

Some new laws aim to update or modernize existing statutes. Other bills overhaul or create entire programs or address a public health crisis such like the opioid epidemic. These will require an intense amount of work to turn into policies.

Here are a few new policies passed in the 2018 legislative session:

  1. HB 2235 formally recognizes and establishes scope of practice for dental therapists, a new provider type. Dental therapists will be permitted to provide about 30 services in total, including some extractions. This new provider type is being described as a big step forward for oral healthcare in the state, particularly for tribal partners.
  2. HB 2324 formally recognizes Community Health Workers, who have a long history in some Arizona communities across the state. These providers have also been referred to historically as Primatores. This newly recognized workforce will provide aid and support to members and communities across the state to better understand and manage their health. For those with chronic health conditions, a history of hospital readmissions, or even those experiencing significant cultural or language barriers, Community Health Workers will bridge the gap and enable better health outcomes, hopefully resulting in reduced costs long-term.
  3. SB 1450 renames the various Human Rights Committees to “Independent Oversight Committees” and transfers oversight responsibility from AHCCCS to the Arizona Department of Administration. This transition intends to create efficiencies by streamlining accountability for and engagement with the Independent Oversight Committees.
  4. SB 1520 & HB 2659 provide the State Fiscal Year 2019 budget and among other things, include:
    1. $10M in funds to provide behavioral health services in schools;
    2. Funding for a Suicide Prevention Coordinator at AHCCCS;
    3. Funds to increase hospital rates by 2.5% if specific performance metrics are met;
    4. Funds to increase Skilled Nursing Facility and Assisted Living rates by 3%;
    5. Funding for 12 full time employees within the American Indian Health Program; and
    6. The elimination of AHCCCS Prior Quarter Coverage.

Our favorite new law from 2018 is SB 1517, which officially establishes the Sonorosaurus as the official state dinosaur of Arizona. This bill successfully passed after an 11 year old boy wrote a letter to Governor Ducey seeking its addition as a state symbol after fossils had been found in Arizona. The Sonorosaurus now joins other notables such as the Saguaro Cactus Blossom, Palo Verde tree, Ridge-nosed Rattle Snake, Apache Trout, and even the Bola Tie as an official Arizona state symbol.