AHCCCS announces intention to focus Whole Person Care Initiative on maintenance, rather than expansion

AHCCCS will submit its five year 1115 Waiver renewal request with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in December 2020. The waiver renewal request will outline an updated set of priorities in response to COVID-19, as the pandemic has shifted the agency’s focus to maintaining current services for members and providers, rather than creating new initiatives.

With the pandemic continuing on in conjunction with anticipated budgetary limitations, AHCCCS announced last week that it will shift course and “focus on a series of smaller-scale, cost-effective initiatives within the parameters of the existing Medicaid program” and “refrain, at this time, from the pursuit of a broader Whole Person Care Initiative in conjunction with its five-year 1115 Waiver renewal.”

 

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AHCCCS’s Whole Person Care Initiative was designed based on an integrated service delivery model to further the agency’s efforts to address the social determinants of health. Some of these social determinants include access to secure housing, stable employment, and long term care.

The shift in course on the part of AHCCS reflects the interlocking crises facing states as they attempt to deal with revenue shortfalls amid uncertainty at the federal level.

Providing an example of one of these “smaller-scale, cost-effective initiatives” AHCCCS cited a partnership with Health Current, Arizona’s Health Information Exchange (HIE), to source a new technical tool for providers – a closed-loop referral system – that providers can use to identify social risk factors and manage referrals to community based agencies.

AHCCCS will also award a contract to a single statewide housing administrator to manage all AHCCCS permanent supportive housing subsidies beginning October 2021.

Speaking to future enhancements that AHCCS in envisioning for Whole Person Care Delivery in rosier economic times, the agency said it work to expand initiatives outside of 1115 Waiver authority.