The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, AHCCCS, serves nearly 30 percent of Arizonans who are eligible for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program health care services. AHCCCS is the largest insurer in Arizona, covering half the births, and two-thirds of the nursing facility days, in the state. At the helm of this $14 billion state agency is an executive management team that collectively brings several decades of health care expertise ranging from private sector, managed care, and provider level in all areas of health care management.
On International Women’s Day 2021, the AHCCCS Executive Management team shares their personal “whys” of working in public service health care.
Jami Snyder, AHCCCS director, was appointed by Governor Doug Ducey on January 5, 2019 after having served as the agency’s deputy director since December 2017. With more than 20 years of public and private sector experience in the health and human services industries, Ms. Snyder’s areas of expertise include regulatory oversight, policymaking, and leadership development. Prior to joining AHCCCS, Ms. Snyder served as Medicaid Director for the state of Texas, managing a program covering 4.7 million enrollees at a cost of $29 billion. She has held posts as Chief Operating Officer of the University of Arizona Health Plans, as Operations Administrator at AHCCCS, and as Bureau Chief at the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Director Snyder: “I am often asked about why I am drawn to this work. I truly cannot imagine a more fulfilling role-allowing me to work with an incredibly talented team to supply access to health care to over 2 million Arizonans. The work can be challenging at times, but on a daily basis I am reminded of how we make a difference-for the healthcare delivery system, for communities, and for families and individuals across the state of Arizona”
Sara Salek, M.D. serves as the Chief Medical Officer at AHCCCS. Dr. Salek sets the agency’s clinical strategy and guides major AHCCCS clinical initiatives including provisioning telehealth, addressing substance use disorders, and improving the service delivery system for children involved with the Department of Child Services.
Dr. Salek: “As an adult and child/adolescent psychiatrist, I’ve had the opportunity to work with children and families in clinical practice as well as in state service. By serving in my current capacity at a Medicaid agency, I am able to impact public policy that improves healthcare outcomes at a population level.”
Kristen Challacombe serves as the Deputy Director for Business Operations at AHCCCS, providing oversight in the daily administrative and operational functions of an agency with more than 1,100 employees. Ms. Challacombe has more than 20 years of experience in government programs with specialized knowledge and passion for serving the health care needs of vulnerable populations. She also serves as the state’s Single State Authority (SSA) overseeing the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG) and other funding for Substance Use Disorder treatment and intervention services for Medicaid and non-Medicaid enrolled members. Prior to her state service, Ms. Challacombe spent the majority of her career in the private health care sector in clinical and operational leadership roles. Since joining AHCCCS in 2017 as a Senior Executive Consultant in the Division of Health Care Management, she draws on her extensive experience in the private health care sector to further public/private partnerships towards advancing the agency’s technological and security infrastructure, and modernizing the ways AHCCCS employees work.
Deputy Director Challacombe: “I’ve always been driven to find process improvements that make systems more efficient, more effective, and more nimble. Smart government relies on adept problem solving and innovation…qualities AHCCCS is known for among state Medicaid programs! In my role, I am able to use my Six Sigma Green Belt certification and the Arizona Management System to find even the smallest ways to drive improvements that better serve the citizens who rely on Medicaid for quality health care services.”
Shelli Silver serves as the Deputy Director for Health Plan Operations for AHCCCS. Approaching 28 years of service to the State of Arizona, Ms. Silver brings a depth of knowledge and experience to health plan management, specializing in finance, rate setting, and reimbursement. She was instrumental in leading the agency’s 10-year path toward physical and behavioral health care integration: orchestrating rules, contract language, policies, and guidelines for changes that impacted our contracted health care plans and created value-driven reimbursement methodologies that reward quality health care delivery. Prior to joining AHCCCS, Ms. Silver served as a Senior Budget Analyst in the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting for more than five years.
Deputy Director Silver: “Medicaid is a critically important program to millions of Arizonans, including members, their families, stakeholders and providers. At the same time it is an incredibly complex program with many gears that need to align to keep it running smoothly, and with continuous improvement opportunities to eliminate barriers to care and improve members’ health outcomes. AHCCCS’ influence on the healthcare marketplace in Arizona is significant and the work my colleagues and I do truly makes a difference in peoples’ lives. That’s why I’ve remained committed to this agency, its mission, and public service in Arizona.”
Dana Flannery serves as the Assistant Director for the Division Community Advocacy and Intergovernmental Relations and the Senior Policy Advisor, overseeing offices that directly interface with members, families, tribal stakeholders, federal and state government partners, and several other committees and councils. In her role as Senior Policy Advisor she provides guidance for agency leadership and serves as a conduit between the divisions and the executive team. With more than 17 years of experience in the behavioral health field, Ms. Flannery understands how the voice of the member is critical to informing the agency on how to improve health care service delivery. She has launched several advocacy trainings, works directly on many of the agency integration initiatives, and continues to lead stakeholder engagement that informs policy development that directly impacts members.
Assistant Director Flannery: “I’m energized when I am able to work directly with individuals, advocates, and stakeholders who are served by Medicaid. Because of their input, we are able to continually evolve the system and raise the bar. Both my professional background and personal experience bring a unique lens to the work we do here at AHCCCS. I have been blessed to have an adventurous career and I enjoy the continued challenge to improve the system, whether it’s at the micro level or macro level.”