Medicaid agencies today are being asked to do more and more to meet the program’s increasing demands since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. States are looking to address the needs of a growing population, transition to value-based purchasing, integrate care for complex need populations, and maximize the potential of cross-agency collaboration, all within the confines of limited budgets. Few, if any, states invest in building Medicaid administrative capacity on the scale of their commercial insurance counterparts.

In California, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is partnering with Leading Resources, Inc. and the Center for Health Care Strategies to offer a unique professional development program for mid-level DHCS managers. The DHCS Academy, made possible by the California Health Care Foundation, Blue Shield of California Foundation, and The SCAN Foundation, provides participating managers with a broad perspective of Medicaid in California and nationally, a deeper understanding of Medicaid innovations, and stronger connections across DHCS divisions.

This profile examines the rationale behind the DHCS Academy and outlines takeaways that could help inform capacity-building efforts in other states. It also looks at a similar training program in New Jersey that is bringing together state and county managers from different agencies administering Medicaid to build staff capacity and cross-agency relationships.