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Obama’s western vacation turns to business in Phoenix

President Barack Obama is hardly the consummate Western outdoorsman. The Marlboro Man he's not. He's spent his adult life in big cities - New York, Chicago and, now, Washington. Basketball, golf, and bodysurfing are how this jock rolls. Indoor daily gym workouts of cardio exercise and weight training are the norm. Hunting, climbing, rafting - not so much.

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States make deep cuts to health

Although states are facing their worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression, 14 found the dollars this year to increase health coverage for about 250,000 children. That's one of the few bright spots for health within state budgets in a year in which all but a handful of states faced shortfalls and were forced to shrink taxpayer-financed programs.

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A failure to rehabilitate (access required)

Arizona spent $121 million on drug- and alcohol-treatment programs in 2008, but a report by the Arizona Auditor General’s Office indicates the programs have failed to change the behavior of most substance-abusing patients. Nearly half of the patients who began substance-abuse treatment during the past three years dropped out before finishing the programs.

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‘Arnold v. Sarn’: Helping or hurting? (access required)

The lawsuit that led to the creation of the modern behavioral health care system in Maricopa County has created what many experts say is an artificial set of standards that ignores the real needs of patients. But confusion and disagreement over ways to improve the system have delayed the kind of meaningful reform that almost everyone in the health care community recognizes as necessary.

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Mental health care: 30 years of broken promises (access required)

Magellan Health Services has adopted a slogan since taking over Maricopa County's behavioral health care system two years ago: "Getting Better All the Time." The reforms promised by the Maryland-based company in the months before taking control of the system were put on hold while the company tried to rebound from the loss of medical records, a critical audit by the court and a series of well-publicized murders committed by untreated patients.

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At long last, Allen’s E.R. malpractice bill signed

A four-year battle for Sen. Carolyn Allen came to end with a stroke of the governor's pen. Gov. Jan Brewer on July 13 signed S1018, which raises the burden of proof for medical malpractice lawsuits against emergency room physicians. Allen, a Scottsdale Republican, had tried unsuccessfully for years to get the measure passed, only to see it fail to reach the governor's desk.

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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 later this week to discuss making reforms to the state’s behavioral health care system. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for June 23.

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