When one of the single largest innovations in Arizona’s health care delivery system occurs – and one that truly puts Arizona on the forefront of innovative patient care in the U.S. is brought forth – it’s apropos for the health industry to stand-up and recognize such a notable accomplishment. 

This is surely the case with the new Arizona Health Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) Complete Care Plan. The name alone does not fully represent the true impact this revolutionary care model will embody. AHCCCS Complete Care, which was implemented on October 1st, marks a monumental milestone in the complete integration of behavioral and medical health care for AHCCCS-enrolled individuals in Arizona.

Jennifer Carusetta is the executive director of the Health System Alliance of Arizona.

This integration of care is a game-changer for patients and providers alike. With a few exceptions, AHCCCS patients who have co-occurring medical and behavioral health conditions will be served and cared for with one health plan, one network of providers and one system of care for ease of navigation. This is a remarkable accomplishment – especially when you consider AHCCCS and contracted health plans are responsible for coordinating care for more than 1.8 million Arizonans. 

How we got here

Historically, most patients served under AHCCCS had separate plans for their medical and behavioral needs. For patients and providers alike, this proved to be a difficult process to navigate. Inefficient models of care are unsustainable and to their great credit, the leadership at AHCCCS decided to improve the system and integrate care into one plan, beginning with a pilot project for individuals diagnosed with a serious mental illness in Maricopa County several years ago, and then over time, successfully expanding integrated coverage for their population statewide.  

The implementation of AHCCCS Complete Care will eliminate the need for patients to seek out multiple providers and health systems. In the past, before Complete Care, this bifurcated system resulted in delays in care, uncertain medication management practices and unnecessary utilization of care. 

One plan, better results

Now, under one plan, patients will not only enjoy better, more efficient and reliable models of care, but providers will also benefit by being able to share important information with one another and work in a highly coordinated manner to better manage patient care. 

Significantly, this transition between health plan contracts was 100 percent transparent to providers. Again, no easy task, but a testament to the leadership and staff at AHCCCS, as well as the dedication of the managed care plans, who have worked tirelessly over the past months to build relationships within the provider community and solidify a network of care to support the care needs of patients in the community.

We congratulate AHCCCS on the implementation of AHCCCS Complete Care – a model surely to be duplicated elsewhere and one that will better serve patients, providers and everyone involved in the care for Arizonans for years to come.


Jennifer Carusetta is the executive director of the Health System Alliance of Arizona.