[ MM Curator Summary] Centene has won a new BH contract in AZ.
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The payer’s contract to address serious mental healthcare needs in Arizona will last three years, with the opportunity to extend the contract.
November 16, 2021 – Centene Corporation (Centene) will be expanding its Medicaid coverage in Arizona to provide serious mental healthcare services in a competitive contract expansion, the payer announced.
“We are honored to continue our long-standing partnership with the state of Arizona to provide access to comprehensive, quality healthcare to members living with serious mental illness and other complex situations and crisis,” said Brent Layton, president and chief operating officer of Centene.
“Centene has a long history of coordinating integrated physical and behavioral healthcare in Arizona, and we look forward to continuing to work with local providers and community partners to help Arizonans live better, healthier lives.”
The plan’s subsidiaries, Arizona Complete Health-Complete Care Plan and Care1st Health Plan Arizona, will offer physical and behavioral healthcare services to individuals with serious mental health conditions.
Specifically, the payer will provide services for individuals eligible for Title XIX and Title XXI services. These groups of beneficiaries may all under Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage. Centene’s plans will also address crisis system functions and court-ordered evaluations in addition to services that run on grant funding.
The payer will cover around 22,000 beneficiaries in 12 counties—seven counties in southern Arizona and five counties in the northern area of the state—as well as other regions that require crisis support.
The contract will last three years starting October 1, 2022. Arizona’s Medicaid program will have the option to renew the contract as a two-year contract twice.
“It is a privilege to have been selected to continue serving Arizonans living in crisis or with severe mental illness,” said Martha Smith, president and chief executive officer of Centene’s Arizona plan.
“Our mission is to transform the health of our communities, one person at a time, which we believe requires a holistic approach to care that addresses mind, body, and social determinants of health, such as nutrition, housing, and employment. The result is improved health outcomes, lower costs, and a higher quality of life.”
The announcement comes shortly after Centene released a report on improving mental healthcare for children.
“Payers are uniquely positioned to play a critical role in advancing mental healthcare delivery through continued support of innovative technology, evidence-based clinical programs, educational programming, and community partnerships,” Centene’s report explained.
Centene is acquiring Magellan Health, a behavioral healthcare platform, in an effort to diversify and integrate its behavioral healthcare capabilities. The payer announced its plans to acquire Magellan Health in January 2021.
In Magellan Health’s 2021 second-quarter financial report, the behavioral healthcare company projected that the acquisition would finalize in the second half of 2021.
Integrating physical and mental or behavioral healthcare services is a key part of Centene’s behavioral healthcare strategy.
Brett Hart, chief operating officer of medical strategy and former chief behavioral health officer at Centene, told
HealthPayerIntelligence that for the past three to four decades behavioral healthcare has been isolated from physical healthcare services.
Thus, when instituting new efforts to bridge the gap between mental or behavioral healthcare and physical healthcare whether in the private payer setting or for a public payer such as Arizona’s Medicaid program, Hart noted that payers must address both historic barriers to integration as well as the new challenges that they face with new technologies and frameworks.
These efforts to integrate care are critical for Medicaid programs because Medicaid has proven instrumental in enabling access to substance abuse care and behavioral and mental healthcare treatment.