Cenpatico of Arizona has won the state health department’s three-year contract to administer behavioral-health services in Southern Arizona.
In partnership with University of Arizona Health Plan, Cenpatico will now be the regional behavioral health authority for a newly configured eight-county Southern Arizona region.
Regional behavioral-health authorities act like health-maintenance organizations, coordinating publicly funded behavioral health care for children, as well as adults with mental illness or substance- abuse issues, who are covered by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS, Arizona’s Medicaid program.
The contract, which begins in October 2015, will likely be worth more than $600 million annually, said Terry Stevens, CEO of Cenpatico of Arizona. The new model for regional behavioral-health authorities includes medical care for adults with serious mental illness.
Integrating behavioral and medical care is crucial to ensuring patients get treatment for chronic conditions that often accompany mental illness, including diabetes and heart disease, Stevens said.
“For the first time, we’ll be able to get our arms around why some of these folks aren’t getting the preventive care and ongoing care they need,” she said.
More than 52,000 people in the Southern Arizona region are receiving behavioral-health services and about 11,500 of them are eligible for integrated care, Cenpatico said.
Tempe-based Centpatico plans to open a Tucson office next year, with 250 new employees, and will add dozens of employees to its call center here.
The change means the behavioral-health contract for Community Partnership of Southern Arizona will expire in September 2015.
“We had a 20-year run in this community,” Neal Cash, CEO of CPSA, said on Friday. “We’ve set the bar pretty high in a lot of ways.”
The agency had partnered with United Healthcare in its bid for the contract. Cash praised the new focus on medical care for people with serious mental illness.
“There is such tremendous cost and medical comorbidity, it makes sense to have the RBHA be a special health plan to those folks,” Cash said.
The Southern Arizona service area covers Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz and Yuma counties.
Cenpatico is the behavioral-health authority for most of those counties under its current contract with the state.
CPSA members will get a letter from Cenpatico later this year advising of the change. The transition should be smooth, Cenpatico’s Stevens said.
The company will invite members’ doctors not already in the UA Health Network to join, in an effort to let patients keep their doctors.
Not much should change for patients, Stevens said.
“What will change is who’s going to pay for those services and who’s coordinating those services.”
She said UA Health Network’s impending merger with Banner Health won’t affect the contract.
Cenpatico also plans to put special attention on preventing people with serious mental illness from ending up in jail. It is hiring a vice president to oversee an initiative dedicated to that issue, Stevens said.
Cash said he’s unsure what the loss of the state contract means for CPSA’s future. The company has a licensed outpatient center, housing and employment services programs that could continue operating. It employs 257 people.
“We’ll have significant assets, we’ll have buildings,” he said. “We’re certainly not going to have the staff and the revenue.
“It really is up to the board to see if there’s a desire to continue to do some of the things we’ve been doing.”