The DHCS Academy provides comprehensive training for managers and key staff at the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). The DHCS Academy, provided in partnership by Leading Resources Inc. and the Center for Health Care Strategies, strengthens the skills needed to lead DHCS through the increasingly complex and challenging task of effectively administering California’s Medi-Cal program.

Medi-Cal has significantly evolved over the years, and DHCS has undertaken many innovative initiatives to improve the consumer experience. Most recently, CalAIM looks to offer solutions to long-standing challenges by: (1) approaching social determinants of health through whole person care approaches; (2) moving Medi-Cal to a more seamless, flexible system; and (3) driving delivery system transformation. Pressures on DHCS staff have been further amplified by the impact of COVID-19 on safety net providers, members, and state budget deficits. These challenges reinforce the need to invest in DHCS staff.

The DHCS Academy is designed to be a comprehensive, interactive training that provides participants with a fundamental understanding of Medicaid nationally and the Medi-Cal program specifically, and the broader health care environment in which these programs operate. The DHCS Academy helps participants align their work with the DHCS Strategic Vision, which commits the agency to achieving a series of objectives for supporting its members and meeting the public’s expectations for the Medi-Cal program. The DHCS Academy curriculum explores four key questions:

  • Who does Medi-Cal cover? What are issues related to eligibility and enrollment? How does Medi-Cal eligibility align with other coverage options including Medicare and qualified health plans with financial assistance?
  • What services does Medi-Cal cover? How is the Medi-Cal benefit designed? How do innovations in benefit design affect care delivery and cost control efforts?
  • How is care delivered? How are services provided to members? How do fee-for-service, managed care, and alternative payment models influence efforts to deliver quality, cost effective care? How can care be delivered in partnership with other health and human services programs?
  • How are services financed? What challenges and opportunities are present for states in financing and delivering services, particularly as they relate to the state-federal partnership of Medicaid? What current and emerging strategies exist for reforming Medicaid financing and payment models, including the transition?

Between 30-35 competitively selected DHCS staff members participate in each 10-month DHCS Academy cohort, with more than 300 individuals attending since 2012. Participants in the DHCS Academy have the opportunity to develop new, meaningful relationships with peers across DHCS and work together to continuously improve the agency, support its members, and meet the public’s expectations for the Medi-Cal program.