An investment from Blue CrossBlue Shield of Arizona will help support five additionalmental health providers, as well as and ensure the providers remainpracticing in any of Arizona's 176 mental HPSAs. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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Finding mental health care—especially care covered byinsurance—is tough, despite the fact that since 2008 insurers havebeen required to cover it, according to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction EquityAct.

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In fact, a finding covered and accessible care in a reasonableamount of time is so difficult that it has reportedlycontributed to a fall in U.S. life expectancyover the last three years.

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Related: San Francisco proposal would fund universal mentalhealth access with CEO pay tax

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Recognizing the relationship between mental and physical health,insurers are starting to be more active in finding ways to increaseaccess to mental health services. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizonahas taken the step of dealing with a shortage ofmental health practitioners in its coverage area by awarding$560,000 in funding to the Arizona Department of Health Services'State Loan Repayment Program to help recruit health careprofessionals.

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In addition, health care technology and services company Quartetannounced a new round of Series D funding, to the tune ofsome $60 million, as well as a strategic partnership with Medicaidprovider Centene Corporation “to ensure the most vulnerablepopulations have access to mental health care.”

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“Through deepening our partnership with Quartet, we are focusedon ensuring that people in all communities can access the care theyneed,” said Jesse Hunter, chief strategy officer for Centene. “Weare pleased to work with Quartet and other health care innovatorsto advance the role technology and services can play to improve theintegration of mental health and primary care.”

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In Arizona, the way the SLRP works is to helps recruit andretain health care professionals in areas that need them themost—such as rural communities, which have a large shortage ofmental health professionals—by repaying a provider's qualifyingeducational loans in exchange for a two-year commitment to provideservices in federally designated Health Profession Shortage Areasor Arizona Medically Underserved Areas. According to the report, ina two-year period, BCBSAZ's funds will help support five additionalmental health providers, as well as and ensure the providers remainpracticing in any of Arizona's 176 mental HPSAs.

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For its part, Quartet provides a HIPAA-compliant technologyplatform that supports collaborative care teams at the local level.Physicians get the data and resources to better identify patientswho may have underlying mental health conditions, and are able to“easily connect their patients to a trusted network of mentalhealth providers.”

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.