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Looking for a previous story? Information previously located on this page has been placed in either the State Legislative Budget Activities pages or the Federal Activities page.


 

Director Betlach appointed to serve on CBO Panel of Health Advisors. New

May 29, 2015
On May 29, 2015 the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) appointed Director Betlach to serve on its panel of Health Advisors. CBO’s Health Advisors represent a wide range of expertise to best advise the agency on its analyses. Since 1975, CBO has produced independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the Congressional budget process. Each year, the agency’s economists and budget analysts produce dozens of reports and hundreds of cost estimates for proposed legislation.

 

Arizona keeps costs low on long-term care spending, Moody's says New

May 23, 2015
A new analysis provided by Moody’s Investors Services indicates Arizona has controlled Medicaid spending on long-term care for the 65-and-up population. According to the analysis, the national average for long-term care spending increased an average of 6.5 percent a year from 1999-2009, while Arizona contained its costs at a rate below 4 percent. For more information, please see the link below.

Moody’s Investor Services
 

Change in Ownership Public Comment - Care1st Health Plan Arizona

May 1, 2015
AHCCCS is seeking public comment on Blue Shield of California’s proposed acquisition of Care1st Health Plan Arizona and the transition plan as it relates to Care1st, an AHCCCS contracted health plan currently serving approximately 100,000 members across Arizona. The comment period is scheduled to end May 15, 2015.

Comments can be submitted to:

For more information please access the following link:

Care1stHealthPlanAz
 

Governor Ducey's Administrative Simplification

April 22, 2015
The Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS) and AHCCCS have been partners in an effort to improve care for Arizonans receiving behavioral health services. Governor Ducey recommended formalizing the partnership by bringing DBHS and AHCCCS together. This administrative simplification does not change services members can receive, nor does it change how members receive services. It also will not disrupt the important services DBHS provides to members, including employment and housing supports or the Office of Individual and Family Affairs, which will all transition to AHCCCS. The merger will become effective July 1, 2016.

For more information regarding Governor Ducey’s administrative simplification initiative, please see the presentation below as presented in the Joint Health and Human Services Committee, as well as member correspondence from the Division of Behavioral Health Services Office of Individual and Family Affairs:

Administrative Simplification 3/26/15

OIFA Letter to Members 4/21/15

 

ASD Advisory Committee

April 14, 2015
On April 14, 2015, the Governor’s Office established the statewide ASD Advisory Committee representing a broad range of stakeholders to address and provide recommendations to strengthen services for the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Information about the Committee membership, workgroups, goals, meeting dates and minutes and final recommendations will be posted as they become available on the ASD Advisory Committee page available on the link below:

ASD Advisory Committee

 

AHCCCS Provider Rate Analysis for Rates Effective October 1, 2015

April 6, 2015
In an effort to address Arizona’s significant funding shortfall, the Legislature enacted Laws 2015, Chapter 14 (SB 1475) on March 12, 2015, which authorizes AHCCCS to reduce rates for providers up to 5% in aggregate for dates of service October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016. More information, including information about the public comment process, is available on the AHCCCS Provider Rate Analysis website.

 

Coverage of Incontinence Briefs for ALTCS Members

February 10, 2015
On December 15, 2014, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear AHCCCS' appeal of the Court of Appeals decision in Alvarez v. Betlach which upheld coverage of incontinence briefs for preventive purposes in the lawsuit brought by several adult ALTCS members. As a result of the Supreme Court action, the court injunction went into effect. Beginning December 15, 2014, incontinence briefs for ALTCS members age 21 years and older are covered when medically necessary for preventive purposes. Coverage requirements for this population can be located in Chapter 300 of the AHCCCS Medical Policy Manual.

 

Summary of the Executive Proposal to Raise the DSH Hard Caps

The Executive budget increases the disproportionate share hospital (DSH) cap of $89,877,700 for the Maricopa Medical Center which is managed by the Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS) in both State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2015 and SFY 2016. MIHS currently receives a $4,202,300 DSH payment and the remaining federal portion of MIHS’ DSH allocation is deposited in the General Fund.

Overall Arizona DSH payments are limited to an annual allotment (maximum) established each year by the federal government. The Arizona budget then allocates this overall allotment into several “pools.” Since Arizona typically uses its entire allotment, when one pool is increased, another pool(s) must be decreased by a corresponding amount.

Specifically, the Executive budget would increase the MIHS cap to $105,945,500 in SFY 2015 and $113,818,500 in SFY 2016 and lower the pool 5 allocation by the same amount. Since the federal portion of the DSH payment for MIHS is deposited into the state General Fund, this would increase the state General Fund deposit by approximately $11 million in SFY 2015 and $16.5 million in SFY 2016. This would result in a corresponding decrease in pool 5 payments from approximately $32 million in SFY 2015 to approximately $16 million and from approximately $34 million in SFY 2016 to $10 million. The federal government has not yet finalized the SFY 2015 and SFY 2016 allotments, so SFY 2015 and SFY 2016 amounts may vary slightly.

A document containing the summary and frequently asked questions can be found here.

 

CMS Announces Round Two State Innovation Model Awards


December 22, 2014
On December 16th, CMS announced grants for the State Innovation Model Initiative, Round 2. Although Arizona did not receive a Model Test award, it did receive a Model Design award to "create and refine its proposal for multi-payer and health delivery system transformation." Although Arizona was invited to present in person regarding its proposal, the State was only awarded a $2.5 million planning grant. This grant is designed to provide the State with funds to engage stakeholders across all payer types, providers, consumers and others to build a road map for reforming the health care delivery system. Since the State’s initial proposal was not for a planning grant, the State needs to determine the scope of the planning grant. Once that is determined, the State will communicate with CMS and begin the stakeholder engagement process. In the alternative, the State could decline the planning grant funds. More information about the SIM Round 2 awards can be found on the CMS website:
http://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/State-Innovations/

July 22, 2014
On July 19th, Arizona submitted an application for the CMS State Innovation Model Funding to accelerate the state’s delivery system transformation towards a value-based integrated model that focuses on whole person health in all settings and regardless of coverage source. Additional information about the proposed initiative, including the grant proposal can be found in the link below.
http://www.azahcccs.gov/reporting/federal/SIMgrant.aspx

 

CMS HCBS Rule


November 5, 2014
On January 16, 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released final rules regarding requirements for home and community based services (HCBS) operated under section 1915 of the Social Security Act. The rules mandate certain requirements for alternative residential or community settings where Medicaid beneficiaries receive long term care services and supports. While the AHCCCS HCBS program is operated under section 1115 of the Act and is not subject to those regulations, we anticipate that the federal government will require compliance with those regulations as part of Arizona’s next renewal of its section 1115 waiver. Because of that, AHCCCS intends to establish a plan for voluntarily meeting those standards on a time line generally consistent with the requirements for HCBS programs operated under section 1915. In Arizona, these requirements impact the residential placements for members enrolled in the Arizona Long Term Care Services (ALTCS) program. The new rules also impact day programs where ALTCS members receive services during the day only.

AHCCCS is currently in the process of reviewing Arizona’s HCBS settings to determine how it might meet the new standards that apply to HCBS programs operated under section 1915 of the Act. AHCCCS will publish its initial assessment of Arizona’s HCBS settings and how they compare with the new rules in the early part of 2015. There will be an opportunity for public comment on the initial assessment. Once public comment is considered, AHCCCS will submit its assessment to CMS for review. To the extent changes need to be made to HCBS settings, AHCCCS will work with CMS to establish a Transition Plan. States have 5 years to come into compliance under the Transition Plan. As part of completing the Transition Plan, AHCCCS will engage stakeholders and seek public comment.




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