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Keynote: Carmen Heredia, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, discusses Medicaid redetermination process

By

Alex Nelson, Hannah Saunders

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Carmen Heredia, director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), discussed the agency’s work, and her perspective on key healthcare issues in the state at the 2024 Arizona State of Reform Health Policy Conference.

AHCCCS spent years preparing for the Medicaid unwinding period. Heredia said many tools were implemented through policy, which helped make it a successful process.

“We still lost people during the unwinding through renewals that didn’t come back into the system, but our data tells us that it’s mostly because those individuals are over income [requirements], so our hope is that folks are getting insured through marketplace insurance or commercial plans. Or that they’re able to come back to AHCCCS if they still qualify.” 

— Heredia

The state budget deficit is a top concern for Heredia, as AHCCCS can’t act on many of the initiatives yet, like innovations, rate increases, and incentives, which are all impossible during a deficit year. 

“Honestly, we’re facing potential reductions which I don’t have conclusive information on, but all state agencies were asked to make proposals on reductions, and we submitted our proposals and we’re waiting to see how negotiations go.” 

— Heredia

To achieve better health for the state’s population, Heredia will continue to focus on what communities need and what related data indicates they need.

“You need to lead through the information that’s coming at you, and I have to listen—I have to listen to what those needs are, meet with people, engage with not only the members that we serve, but the providers and the experts of healthcare.” 

— Heredia

Heredia said she hopes Medicaid will continue to be used as an effective tool to fund initiatives that make positive changes in healthcare.

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