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Mental health meetings slated to resume

Gov. Jan Brewer is expected to meet with lawmakers and officials from the state’s health department today to discuss making reforms to the state’s behavioral health care system.

The Governor’s Office was unavailable for comment.

Similar meetings have been held sporadically since Brewer took office in January, but were placed on hold at the start of this month while the governor negotiated with Republican leadership about the fiscal 2010 budget.

David Bradley, a Democrat from Tucson who has attended a handful of meetings hosted by Brewer, said the majority of the meetings have focused on improving relationships between the Arizona Department of Health Services, the agency charged with managing the state’s behavioral health system, and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid system.

“These agencies are so used to talking to each other through lawyers,” Bradley said. “There is just a lot of contention between the departments that shouldn’t be there.”

On the top of the meeting’s agenda, Bradley said, is the question of how to reform the mental health care system in Maricopa County.

Officials at AHCCCS, though, said the meetings have been centered on teaching the governor the ins-and-outs of the mental health care system. Monica Coury, assistant director of the agency’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations, said she appreciates Bradley’s perspective, “but we believe AHCCCS and ADHS have a positive working relationship.”

The program has been a cause of concern for many lawmakers for more than 20 years. A series of audits has revealed serious flaws with the county’s mental health system, which is administered by Magellan Health Services since 2008.

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