Rural Arizona Doesn’t Need Surprises on Mental Health Care Access

By Timothy Alan

Each year, I plunge into the wilderness for weeks at a time. The experience is a salve for my mental outlook. “Getting away from it all” is an effective wellness strategy. But it’s important to remember, serious issues like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and substance abuse disorders do not resolve themselves with a temporary escape.

Treatment is essential. Unfortunately, in rural Arizona, mental health services can be incredibly hard to come by—and sadly, help could soon become even more difficult to access.

That’s because new legislation in Congress could worsen our state’s already severe shortage of mental health professionals. Elected leaders in Washington are moving rapidly on a plan to add price controls to the health care market. The proposal was crafted to relieve families of the risk of large, surprise medical bills for out-of-network health care services, but legislators’ good intentions cannot erase the detrimental consequences they would engender by enacting this law.

Price controls on any market are a recipe for shortages. When applied to food, the result was the bread lines of the former Soviet Union. When used on medicines, price controls contributed to the violent upheavals in Venezuela. If we add price controls to America’s health care system, including many behavioral health services, similar outcomes will follow.

This is unacceptable. Already more than 2.8 million Arizonans live in areas with too few mental health professionals. Our state is meeting less than 12 percent of the existing need for behavioral health services and would require nearly 200 more practitioners to catch up.[1] We won’t attract them if we have price controls.

I deliver wilderness-based therapeutic care for troubled teens and youth, and I can tell you, most of my clients with mental health challenges struggle to get help. A lack of psychiatrists and other providers is a problem we share with small towns, frontier regions, and remote communities across the nation, and it is putting our children in jeopardy. In fact, the suicide rate for young people in rural areas is almost twice as high as in urban regions.[2]

Without sufficient mental health experts, rural hospitals and clinics cannot provide life-saving emergency and inpatient psychiatric care for patients in imminent danger. And because the prognosis for mental illness improves with early treatment, our inability to direct behavioral health services to children, teens, and young adults condemns too many residents to more severe illness than they’d likely have suffered with more timely intervention.

Although my focus is on mental health, the effects of federal price control legislation would extend much farther into the health care system. Rural patients would be less able to access air ambulances to speed them to urgently needed care. The number of specialists, from heart doctors to trauma surgeons, would plummet from already low numbers. Patients would have to travel great distances for care, and non-critical cases would be shunted aside until a patient’s situation reaches crisis levels.

These outcomes are as predictable as they are life-threatening. Price controls never turn out any differently. It’s unclear how our elected leaders stumbled so far off course in their efforts to address health care affordability, but they need to return to their senses and protect—not endanger—Arizonans’ access to care.

Timothy Alan is a behavioral health specialist with ANASAZI.

[1] https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/mental-health-care-health-professional-shortage-areas-hpsas/?currentTimeframe=0&selectedRows=%7B%22states%22:%7B%22arizona%22:%7B%7D%7D%7D&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/03/09/the-suicide-rate-for-young-people-is-much-higher-in-rural-areas/

Rural Arizona Senator Chester Crandell Passes

By Jesse Bryant

Senator Chester CrandellTragedy has once again struck Rural Arizona with the passing of Rural Arizona’s Senator Chester Crandell. It was announced Monday, August 04, 2014, that Senator Crandell died while out riding his horse in his Rim Country home of Heber, Arizona.

It was in Heber, also, where Chester grew up and finished school in the one-room school house in 1964. He went on to attend Mesa Community College, then transferred to the University of Arizona earning a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Education and afterward earning a Master’s of Education Leadership degree from Northern Arizona University.

After college, he began a distinguished thirty year career in public education starting at Westwood High School in 1972. He developed the first Vocation Agriculture program at Heber-Overgaard School District, and in 1999 helped to establish the Northern Arizona Vocation Institute of Technology (NAVIT) across rim country school districts.

While serving as superintendent of NAVIT, Chester took sevice to the next level by becoming a candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives. He received a warm welcome by rural activists and became the “C” in that year’s ABC team representing the five eastern counties, including Gila, in the legislature; Senator Sylvia Allen and Representative Brenda Barton being the “A” and “B” of the team. In 2012 with the retirement of Senator Allen, he ran for and won a seat in the state senate.

Chester presented a strong voice at the capitol for all rural Arizonans and our important issues. Most recently he was working on efforts to restore control of public lands to the states, and running for a second term. His death creates vacancies in his office and on the November ballot. A strikingly similar incident occurred in 2008 when Senator Jake Flake died of a heart attack after being thrown from his horse in Snowflake, AZ. As it happened in 2008, the law requires that the Navajo County Board of Supervisors appoint a resident of Navajo County to finish the remaining few months of Senator Crandell’s term. The precinct committeemen of the Republican Party inside Crandell’s legislative district will gather together in a central location within their district, receive qualified candidates, and elect an individual to run in his place for the November election.

Chester Crandell, leaves behind his wife Alice, nine children, and many grandchildren. As an inheritance he leaves them a ranching heritage, a name marked by honor, and an example of humility. Rural Arizona mourns the loss of one of its champions and heroes, but hats come off to a fitting passing for a man of the land.

State Representative Brenda Barton endorses Mark Brnovich for Attorney General

Mark Brnovich- skinny horizontal logo

State Representative Brenda Barton endorses Mark Brnovich for Attorney General

Today, Republican candidate for Attorney General Mark Brnovich received the endorsement of Representative Brenda Barton, who currently represents portions of Apache, Coconino, Gila, and Navajo County in Arizona’s legislative district 6.

“I am pleased to endorse Mark Brnovich for Arizona Attorney General. Arizona needs an Attorney General that has the drive, qualifications, and desire to push back against the overreach of the federal government,” said Brenda Barton. “Mark has always been a champion of property rights and believes in the necessity for Arizona to assume the sovereign rights of a state over the lands within our borders. Mark understands the priorities of rural Arizona and I’m giving him my full support.”

Representative Barton is the current Chairman of the House Agriculture and Water Committee and member of the Transportation Committee.

“I am honored to have the support of a lifelong Arizonan like Representative Barton. She has a proven track record of conservative values and has fought to protect Arizona’s natural resources for future generations,” Brnovich said.

Representative Brenda Barton joins U.S. Representative Trent Franks, County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Representatives Debbie Lesko, Paul Boyer, T.J. Shope, former State Senators Linda Gray, Barbara Leff, Arizona Christian University President Len Munsil, former State Treasurer Dean Martin, Coolidge Mayor Tom Shope, Chandler City Councilman Jeff Weninger and national and local conservative leaders like David McIntosh, Shane Wikfors, and Jennifer Wright in endorsing Mark Brnovich for Arizona Attorney General.

ABOUT MARK BRNOVICH

Raised in Arizona, Mark Brnovich is a graduate of Arizona State University. After law school, Mark prosecuted felonies in the Gang/Repeat Offender Bureau of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and worked as an Assistant Attorney General for Arizona and as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. Mark also served his country as the Command Staff Judge Advocate for the 153rd Field Artillery Brigade of the Arizona Army National Guard for eight years. Mark met his wife Susan while both were working as prosecutors. They live in Phoenix with their two daughters.

For more information, please visit www.Mark4AZ.com or find him on Facebook & follow him on Twitter @Mark4AZ.
###