Governor Ducey Announces Tom Betlach To Lead DES

News Release

March 20, 2020

PHOENIX⁠ — Governor Doug Ducey today announced that former Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) Director Tom Betlach will rejoin the administration on a temporary special assignment to lead the Department of Economic Security. Betlach’s leadership comes from 27 years working for the state of Arizona, including nine years leading AHCCCS and eight as the agency’s deputy director, before retiring in 2019.

Betlach will lead the agency for 75 days, while Director Dr. Cara Christ leads Arizona’s response to COVID-19. His first day will be March 20th, 2020.

“Tom served Arizonans with excellence for nearly three decades and as a trusted advisor to me for four years,” said Governor Ducey. “He is a nationally-recognized health care and finance expert, and a leader with a record of delivering results for the people he serves. I can think of nobody better to step in and lead the agency responsible for caring for Arizona’s most vulnerable at this crucial time — and I’m grateful to Tom for his continued willingness to serve.”

“Thank you to Governor Ducey for allowing me this opportunity to once again serve the people of Arizona,” said Betlach. “It’s an honor to be asked to serve, especially at a time that demands so much of all of us. I look forward to joining the talented women and men of the Department of Economic Security as we continue the agency’s mission to help Arizona’s families in need.”

During Betlach’s tenure leading AHCCCS, the agency underwent significant transformation to become one of the nation’s most widely recognized and well-run Medicaid programs in the country. As part of a focus on program integrity, value, and innovation, Betlach oversaw the merging of the Department of Behavioral Health Services with AHCCCS in 2016, paving the way for the agency to integrate physical and behavioral health services under a single health plan — a major delivery system milestone.

Under Betlach’s leadership, AHCCCS and its partners also led a focus on addressing social factors that adversely affect overall health, such as homelessness, stable housing, and transitions from incarceration.

Prior to joining AHCCCS, Betlach served Arizona as the state budget director for five years.