What is the AHCCCS Housing Program?

Housing can be one of the biggest hurdles that people determined to have  a Serious Mental Illness (SMI), and even those with general mental health issues, face. 

According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, over 40 percent of adults experiencing homelessness self-report having a serious mental illness.  Yet, having a solid, stable environment  is a crucial foundation for learning how to  live an independent, self-directed life. 

Currently, the AHCCCS Housing Program provides housing subsidies to more than 2,800 individuals in Arizona who are determined to have SMI and who are experiencing homelessness or housing crises. In addition to housing subsidies these members receive support services such as case management, life skills training, employment supports, crisis management, substance abuse treatment, and other programs to promote success in their daily stability. These services can be tailored to provide specific supports to secure and maintain housing such as completing housing applications, finding affordable housing units, financial planning and budgeting for housing needs, coordinating move-ins, understanding lease requirements, housekeeping and cooking skills, conflict management with landlords or neighbors and connecting members to community programs and natural supports. 

Traditionally, AHCCCS housing subsidies were managed by the Regional Behavioral Health Authorities, or RBHAs. The health plans were responsible for a variety of administrative duties such as managing waitlists, processing referrals, conducting tenant briefings, ensuring housing legal compliance, processing claims for accommodation related to disabilities, ensuring tenant leases are legal, determining tenant contribution to rent and subsidy amounts, ensuring fair rent rates, performing habitability inspections, paying landlords and housing providers timely, maintaining landlord relationships, reporting and processing renewals, and legal notifications.

AHCCCS recently announced a contract award to Arizona Behavioral Health Corporation and their sub-contractor HOM, Inc. to be the new AHCCCS Housing Program Administrator that oversees  all of these housing functions. This single, statewide provider will standardize housing practices, reduce barriers for AHCCCS  members and improve their experience, and reduce costs that will, in turn, increase the housing voucher capacity. RBHAs and the Health Plans will continue to be responsible for assessing and determining member eligibility based on mental health diagnoses and housing needs. They will also be able to focus on ensuring the delivery and integration of quality, individualized behavioral health services for members in the housing programs that are the critical element in supportive housing as a tool for reducing social risk factors related to health outcomes. 

“By choosing a single statewide housing administrator, AHCCCS is prioritizing efforts to standardize and improve housing practices, reduce barriers for members, increase accountability, and most importantly, improve the housing experience as a critical resource in addressing social risk factors, especially for those persons living with mental health issues and experiencing homelessness,” Jami Snyder, director of AHCCCS, said. 

Arizona Behavioral Health Corporation and its subcontractor HOM, Inc. have more than 20 years of experience providing housing administration services to various populations including those with mental health issues, people experiencing homelessness, veterans, and people with disabilities. 

“Affordable, quality housing is the platform for achieving improved health and economic outcomes for individuals and families in our communities,” Charles Sullivan, president and CEO of ABC, said. “Through the centralization and standardization of housing program administration, we will drive transparency, efficiency, and cost savings to expand housing options for AHCCCS members throughout Arizona.”

Over the next several months, AHCCCS, ABC Housing, and HOM, Inc. will finalize the transition plan, transfer information from the RHBAs, and prepare for the contract effective date, Oct. 1, 2021. 

Share

Meet the Executive Leadership Team at AHCCCS

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.

Jami Snyder, AHCCCS Director

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”

asb

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. Sara Salek, AHCCCS Chief Medical Officer

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.”             

blnaks

blank

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. 

Kristen Challacombe, Deputy Director, AHCCCS Business Operations

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.”

asd

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. 

Shelli Silver
Shelli Silver, AHCCCS Deputy Director, Health Plan Operations

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.

Dana Flannery, AHCCCS Assistant Director, Division of Community Advocacy and Intergovernmental Relations & Senior Policy Advisor

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.”

Share

Play Your Part in Ending the Pandemic

We each play a role  in ending the COVID-19 pandemic, whether you are a first responder or healthcare worker; a grocery store clerk; or a work-at-home parent who is suddenly also a teacher. To get beyond the pandemic, we each have to participate. Here are some simple steps you and your family members can take:

1.  When it’s your turn, get the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s a two-step process, so when you receive your first dose write down which vaccine you received and the date. This will help ensure you receive the correct second dose, at the right time.

2.  If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, stay home! It is important for you to stay away from all other individuals who have tested negative for the full length of time required by your doctor or the public health authorities, which is usually at least 10 days but can be longer. Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care. The CDC also recommends using a separate bedroom and bathroom, and carefully washing your hands frequently.

3.  Know the emergency symptoms and when you need to, go to the  hospital. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home without medical treatment. However, seek medical care immediately if you experience:

  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath.
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest.
  • New confusion.
  • Inability to wake or stay awake.
  • Bluish lips or face.
  • Any other conditions for which your doctor advises you to seek care.

Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Let any first responders know if you tested positive for COVID-19 and wear a mask before coming in contact with anyone. 

4.  And of course, mask-up Arizona! It is still critically important to wear a mask when in public or in close proximity to others who don’t live in your household. Even after you’ve had the vaccine, you need to wear a mask. Physically distancing at least six feet is also recommended when interacting with others.

If we all follow these steps, we’ll be able to beat this pandemic together. We each play an important part in recovery. Join us in helping make Arizona a healthier place!

Have more questions? Check out the CDC’s guidelines here

Share