Arizona Medicaid Program Receives Authority To Implement Program Changes To Address COVID-19

News Release

March 24, 2020

PHOENIX⁠ — Arizona’s Medicaid agency today received federal approval to implement programmatic changes to help ensure access to health care for kids and vulnerable Arizonans.

Arizona was one of the first states to submit a request to waive certain Medicaid and KidsCare (CHIP) program requirements in order to address the COVID-19 outbreak. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved components of Arizona’s request under the 1135 Waiver. Under the waiver, AHCCCS will be able to strengthen the provider workforce, remove barriers to care for AHCCCS members, enhance Medicaid services and supports for vulnerable members, and remove burdensome cost-sharing and other administrative requirements.

“There is no greater priority than the health and safety of Arizonans,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “Working with our federal partners, Arizona is increasing flexibility for health care providers and ensuring access to health care for our state’s most vulnerable populations during this unprecedented national emergency.”

CMS approved the agency’s request to relax some administrative requirements, including but not limited to:

  • Permitting providers located out of state to offer both emergency and non-emergency care to Arizona Medicaid and CHIP enrollees;

  • Streamlining provider enrollment requirements and waiving the provider enrollment fee during the course of the declared emergency period;

  • Suspending revalidation of providers who are located in state or otherwise directly impacted by the disaster event;

  • Waiving the requirement that physicians and other healthcare professionals be licensed in Arizona, to the extent consistent with state law; 

  • Suspending pre-admission screening and annual resident review (PASRR) for individuals being considered for admission to a nursing facility;

  • And modifying existing prior authorization requirements for AHCCCS' fee-for-service programs.

The allowances from CMS grant broad authority to Arizona to tailor changes to best serve its citizens. AHCCCS will make decisions about how and when these changes will be implemented in the coming days. The agency awaits direction from CMS regarding additional requested flexibilities.