Huge Arizona news this week, as a 33-year-old case was finally settled. Congratulations to everyone involved, including the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest and the Governor’s Office and a lawyer—Charles Arnold—who started the ball rolling.
How the state addresses the needs of the seriously mentally ill was the subject of Arnold v. Sarn. Here is how the Arizona Republic described the case and settlement:
“The lawsuit, Arnold vs. Sarn, was filed in 1981 when advocates for the seriously mentally ill in Maricopa County turned to the courts for relief in treating patients who don’t qualify for Medicaid. Since then, a succession of Maricopa County Superior Court judges have served as watchdog for people with mental-health issues, monitoring state funding and hearing arguments about the adequacy of care, from housing to employment to skills training.”
“The agreement reached with the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, which represents the plaintiffs, outlines services that both sides say are key to giving the plaintiffs the best chance at a productive life. It includes provisions for housing, job training, employment and access to around-the-clock treatment that will cover both mental- and physical-health needs.”
“The agreement relies on $37.8million from the state’s general fund, as well as cost savings the state will get when seriously mentally ill patients previously covered by the state are insured by the state’s expanded Medicaid program. State officials estimate a quarter of those on state coverage will shift to Medicaid, for a savings of $9.5million.”
“In addition, by enrolling an estimated 70,000 more Arizonans in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, the state should reap an additional $20million to $30million a year, said Anne Ronan, an attorney for the plaintiffs. That money can be used to pay for the expanded housing, job and treatment services, she said.”
The article notes that “Charles ‘Chick’ Arnold, the ‘Arnold’ in the original 1981 court filing, lauded the agreement.”
Chick Arnold is an attorney, and one whose contribution is huge. Last April, I pointed out that he had been honored with the Learned Hand Award.
To read more about his contribution, read what the Republic’s E.J. Montini says about him.
I urge on you a terrific weekend and leave you with a quote from Chick Arnold:
“We have to knock down the prejudice surrounding people with mental illness. We feel sympathy for people with so many other conditions, but we feel fear when it comes to mental-health issues. And we shouldn’t. It is a disorder like any other disorder, only it happens to affect an organ that affects judgment. If we looked at this simply as a health issue, the stigma would go away and more people would be willing to seek the help they need. The question is: How do we get there? How do we change people’s perceptions?”Follow @azatty