Health Choice, the managed care solutions division of IASIS Healthcare, has signed an agreement with the Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority (“NARBHA”) to form a joint venture called Health Choice Integrated Care to pursue new opportunities to deliver integrated behavioral and physical healthcare services in Northern Arizona.

This collaboration between Health Choice and NARBHA is being pursued in response to the State of Arizona’s announcement, as part of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System’s (“AHCCCS”) strategic plan for fiscal years 2014-2018, to create a specialty Regional Behavioral Health Authority (“RBHA”) model for Medicaid members having serious mental illness. This behavioral health strategy focuses on an integrated care model allowing a single managed care organization to manage both physical and behavioral health services for seriously mentally ill residents in distinct geographic service areas.

The joint venture between Health Choice and NARBHA will leverage the existing provider networks currently offered by these plans and will compete for selection as an awardee under the Arizona Department of Health Services new Greater Arizona Integrated Behavioral Health contract, which is part of the state’s behavioral health program and is expected to be put out for bid later this summer.

“As experienced local health plans offering unique and complementary member services, both Health Choice and NARBHA have a time-tested commitment to Arizona. Together we bring proven models of care in managing these complex, vulnerable populations in Northern Arizona,” said Mike Uchrin, CEO, Health Choice. “This partnership will combine the clinical and operational expertise of both organizations into a fully integrated health plan that, we believe, will offer the State of Arizona the gold standard it is seeking for how behavioral and physical health services are aligned, managed and delivered.”

“Our ultimate goal is to improve the health outcomes and quality of life for the members we serve by strengthening the innovative relationship that has been forged over years between Health Choice and NARBHA ,” added Mary Jo Gregory, CEO, NARBHA. “I’m confident, through the combined strengths of our respective organizations, that we will accomplish these objectives for the benefit of Arizona and our members.”

For a number of years, Health Choice and NARBHA have collaborated to develop aligned, innovative models of physical and behavioral health management based around coordinating the physical and mental health care for their shared health plan members. This long standing partnership was the precursor for the formation of this current joint venture, with the focus on “whole person” healthcare needs, in keeping with State’s efforts to better coordinate, integrate and improve behavioral and physical health outcomes for Arizonans in a high-quality, cost-efficient manner.

The operations headquarters of Health Choice Integrated Care will be at NARBHA’s current location in Flagstaff, Arizona, with additional resources and operations throughout the communities of Northern Arizona.