Red Ribbon Week Promotes Drug-Free Lifestyle

Red Ribbon Week

Every October, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) holds its annual Red Ribbon Week (RRW) Campaign to honor fallen DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” S. Camarena, and to remind Americans that we all can live healthy lives without drugs.

The name Kiki Camerena may be familiar to some of you if you’ve watched Narcos: Mexico on Netflix, but there’s much more to his story and how the Red Ribbon Campaign came to be. Shortly after Kiki’s death at the hands of drug traffickers in 1985, individuals came together to memorialize Kiki and formed “Camarena Clubs” in Kiki’s hometown of Calexico, CA. Hundreds of the club members wore red ribbons and pledged to live drug-free lives to honor the sacrifices made by Kiki and others. The campaign gained momentum in the following years, and in 1988 made its way to Washington, D.C. where it was formalized and received presidential recognition. In 2020, RRW remains one of the largest, oldest, and most successful substance abuse prevention campaigns in the United States. 

During the week of October 23 – 31, you’re invited to wear red and to pledge to live healthy, drug-free lives. A pledge can as simple as talking to your kids and loved ones about the dangers of drug use, wearing something red during the week, trying a new exercise class, learning how to cook a healthy new recipe, or just taking a moment to reflect and honor those who have lost their lives and those who continue to fight in the pursuit of making our country healthy and drug-free.
For more information about the campaign and Kiki’s story, check out the resource available at and share your efforts on social media using the hashtags #DEARedRibbon and #GoRed4RedRibbon.


Implementation of New Statutory Requirements Impacting AHCCCS

Although the 2020 legislative session ended abruptly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a few bills which will impact the State’s Medicaid program successfully navigated their way to the Governor’s desk and were signed into law. These laws go into effect on August 25, 2020.

AHCCCS must take steps to implement these new laws, which often include updates to rules, contracts, policies, provider registration, claims processing, financial monitoring and reporting, the state plan, and in some instances even the Waiver.

Bills which were signed into law in the 2020 legislative session include:

SB1523, the Mental Health Omnibus, establishes the Children’s Behavioral Health Services Fund, and appropriates $8 million to be administered by AHCCCS. The Fund is to be used to enter into an agreement with one or more contractors for behavioral health (BH) services for children who are uninsured/underinsured, is referred for BH services by an educational institution, and has written parental consent to obtain the BH services. Under this legislation,  AHCCCS is also to conduct a survey of public schools to obtain information regarding the delivery of BH services on or off school grounds. The bill also creates the suicide mortality review team to review data around suicide and recommend changes to laws or rules to decrease the incidences of preventable suicide.

HB2668 creates the Health Care Investment Fund, for the purpose of funding the non-federal share of the cost for directed payments to hospitals, and for payments to physicians and dentists to restore provider rates to the rate levels in existence before FY2008-2009.

HB2244 will allow AHCCCS to reimburse for adult emergency dental services in excess of the $1,000 statutory limit for members receiving services through an IHS/638 facility, and qualify for 100 percent Federal match (contingent upon approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).


Valle de Sol Serves Community Minority Mental Health Needs

July is national Minority Mental Health Month. In honor of the great work done statewide, AHCCCS is highlighting the work of several community partners. Valle del Sol, based in Phoenix, was founded by Latino activists. CEO Carmen Heredia answered a few questions about Valle del Sol and how they help to address minority mental health needs. 

1. Would you mind describing how your organization addresses minority mental health? 

Valle del Sol was founded 50 years ago by activists in the Latino community that were seeking culturally competent mental health and social services in the valley.   Even though our organization is open to everyone, the strong roots as a Latino founded, Latino led, and Latino serving organization are still core to our makeup and mission.

Minorities often have a distrust of government and health services due to system issues and years of oppressive practices that exclude and marginalize people. We know health disparities exist and they are pronounced among communities of color.   

For the last 50 years, Valle del Sol has established itself as a trusted voice and a go-to advocate for the Latino community.   Our Hispanic Leadership Institute now has over 1,800 alumni that have graduated from our programs and many are in elected positions from school boards to the U.S. Congress.  We use this network and this platform to advocate for minorities, for health and human services on a frequent basis in the media and in the legislature.   Addressing health disparities is a tenant of our organization.

2. Is any of your programming offered in other languages? 

Yes, all services are available in Spanish and usually by a bilingual service provider or in-house interpreter.   We pride ourselves in hiring bilingual Spanish/English staff and make it a required skill set for all our front desk, call center, and medical assistant support staff.    We work hard at recruiting bilingual professional staff as counselors, doctors, and nurses across our programs.  We offer our staff a language stipend differential for testing at a qualified bilingual level.

We utilize a variety of resources and vendors to provide services in languages other than Spanish and English such as Akorbi, the Language Line, and Bromberg and Associates.   

3. What would you like members of the community to know about Valle and your work with minority mental health? 

            Valle del Sol offers culturally competent services our aim is to provide equitable access to high quality healthcare. 

4. How can those interested in your services contact you? 

            İClaro que si!   Valle del Sol 602-523-9312

For more information about Minority Mental Health Month, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness for resources. Read our other provider profiles about HEAAL and NACA