The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) is the name of the Medicaid program in the state of Arizona. As with all Medicaid programs, it is a joint program between the state and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It became the final such state Medicaid program to implemented under Title XIX (as all other states had previously created their own programs) when it began in October 1982 as a section 1115 demonstration project. The program acronym AHCCCS is frequently pronounced like the word "access."
Medicaid was adopted by the federal government in 1965, and by 1972, every state except Arizona was participating in the program, but Arizona did not begin its participation until 1982.
In 1987, under a policy recommended by the AHCCCS, the Arizona state legislature voted to extend health care to some pregnant women and children in the indigent population and defund organ transplants. Subsequently, the AHCCCS received significant media attention after a woman from Yuma was denied funding for a liver transplant and died as a result.
Until 1988, AHCCCS covered only acute care, except for limited post-hospital skilled nursing facility coverage. The Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS) was created to allow Arizona to implement a long-term care (LTC) program for the elderly, physically disabled, and the developmentally disabled. It is administered as a distinct program from the acute care program. Registering for the ALTCS program can be done either through ALTCS directly or through a third party agency.
In 1990, AHCCCS began phasing in mental health services, beginning with coverage of seriously emotionally disabled children under the age of 18 who require residential care. Over the next five years, behavioral health coverage was extended to all Medicaid eligible persons.
In 2001, AHCCCS received permission from CMS to expand eligibility for its Medicaid acute care program to 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
As of 2005, almost 1,013,800 people were served in the acute care program and close to 41,655 were enrolled in the LTC program. In addition, 50,672 children were enrolled in the Arizona SCHIP program, known as KidsCare.