The rights of Guardians is often misunderstood by many in the behavioral health system. To prevent delays and confusion, I have an electronic version of my guardianship papers with me at all times. This has really come in handy during crisis situations. I have had to email my guardianship papers while on the phone with a provider, even when the agency has received the guardianship paperwork.
Troubling changes to the AHCCCS medical policy could interfere with guardians. I have also experienced this with our son. Why is it so hard to get parity for people with mental health issues? They would not do this for someone with cognitive dementia, so why do it in the behavioral health field?
AHCCCS is proposing changes to the AHCCCS Medical Policy Manual (“AMPM”) that would interfere with guardians’ authority in the decision-making process related to acute care facilities. This change would be unlawful as it is contrary to existing law including the Arizona Administrative Code and the Arizona Revised Statutes. AHCCCS continues to strip guardians’ rights per its AMPM. AHCCCS recently removed the guardian’s authority to alone consent to admission to a behavioral health residential facility (See AMPM 320-V). Thus, a person determined by the Superior Court of Arizona to be unable to make medical decisions, is allowed to make medical decisions. Would AHCCCS do this to a person with Alzheimer’s who needs to get into an assisted living facility? No (it does not, the policy is very clear). Would AHCCCS do this to a person with a developmental disability who needs admission to a hospital? No (it does not, the policy is very clear). No, when it comes to consent to medically necessary services, the guardian is cut out only when the member has an SMI. Guardians are appointed by the court based on incapacity, demonstrated need and least restrictive alternatives. Their legal authority, and their role in caring for SMI persons, should be respected.