Closing Keynote: A conversation with AHCCCS leader Carmen Heredia


Alex Nelson, Hannah Saunders


Carmen Heredia, cabinet executive officer of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), was the Closing Keynote speaker at the 2023 Arizona State of Reform Health Policy Conference, where she spoke about improving health equity in the face of a budget deficit.

“We really—anything we plan and dream of and want to solve—everything relates to money, and so [it’s important to be] prioritizing what you work on, how you work on it, how to time things,” Heredia said.

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She said AHCCCS hopes to engage stakeholders with a breadth of experience to spread their variety of skills and expertise to younger generations and individuals who are newer to the healthcare industry. She believes Gov. Katie Hobbs’ administration is committed to healthcare coverage for all, and AHCCCS is continuing to carve out small chunks towards this path.

Gov. Katie Hobbs challenged AHCCCS with reducing the uninsured rate from about 10 percent to five percent by 2030, which Heredia said is a huge undertaking that will help address healthcare disparities. Heredia said AHCCCS has been engaged in road mapping sessions to discover how to leverage benefits to cover services if those services are not directly covered. 

There’s also a big statewide push to reform licensing for behavioral health, and Heredia is seeking input and advocacy to carve out what’s possible with the budget. 

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