Weekly AzPHA Public Health Committee Update

Our Public Health Policy Committee continues to be busy following bills making their way through the state legislature and preparing comments on AHCCCS’ 1115 Waiver application.  Here’s a snapshot of AzPHAs activities over the last couple weeks and what's up this week.  There’s good and bad news this week.

Active Health-related Bills

We'll be signing up in support of 3 bills in the House Health Committee this week.  We're enthusiastically supporting HB 2426 which would set up a pathway for Community Health Workers in AZ to voluntarily become certified. Voluntary certification would be a big step forward for this important health profession because it would make it easier to get reimbursement for their services- and expand the use of CHWs.  Good news! 

We'll also be enthusiastically supporting HB 2442 this week in House Health- which would provide for preventive dental services for pregnant women enrolled in AHCCCS.  There are a host of public health reasons why this is a good idea- you can read about them in this Issue Brief from the UA's Center for Population Science & Discovery.

We're also supporting HB 2208 this week, which would, under certain circumstances, let school staff administer or help a student self-administer an inhaler for things like asthma episodes.  There was a late breaking amendment to this bill this week which we think makes the bill more likely to move forward.

Meanwhile, last week:

HB 2090 which would require hospitals to offer influenza vaccines to seniors during the cold and flu months is alive and well- passing through the House Health Committee 9-0 last week. 

HB 2134 which would make it clear that kids can take sunscreen to school also got a favorable recommendation from House Health 9-0. 

HB 2190 which would ask ADHS to compile stroke statistics was held in committee, meaning it’ll need to be approved this week or it’s probably toast this year. O

Last week AzPHA signed up in support of and testified for HB 2335 which if it passes would move the age at which folks can buy cigarettes and other tobacco products (including e-cigarettes) from 18 years old to 21.  There’s good evidence that when a person starts smoking before they’re 21 they’re far more likely to be a life-long smoker (because people that start in their teens are more highly addicted as a result of changes in the brain).   HB 2335 passed in the House Health Committee 7-2, but still needs to get through the House Commerce Committee and then of course get a full House floor vote.  It didn’t get a hearing in the House’s Commerce Committee this week, and the committee chair has said he won’t hear the bill in his committee-  which would effectively kill it.  Sad!

No news this week about House Bill 2082 sponsored by Jesus Rubalcava and, which would require all schools to have 50 minutes of recess per day from K through 5th grade. That bill passed 11-0, but there’s still a ways to go and plenty of hurdles to overcome before this would become law.

Meanwhile, over in the Senate,  SB 1368 passed through the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.  If it passes, it would authorize the ADHS to collect the newborn screening fees needed to add Severe Combined Immune Deficiency syndrome to the list of newborn screening tests. This one is looking good.

We’re watching the Legislature’s hearing calendar closely and will offer our support and/or information.  If you’re interested in joining our Public Policy Committee, you can contact tiffany@azpha.org and she’ll get you on our list.  We have a weekly call every Monday at 11 am and someone from the committee is always down at the Legislature for key hearings.

AHCCCS Waiver

The AzPHA’s Public Policy Committee is finishing up our comments on AHCCCS’ 1115 Medicaid waiver application (as required by a state laws that passed in 2015).  AzPHA will be submitting comments on the Waiver application focusing on 4 key areas: 

  • The proposed requirement for all “able-bodied” adults to become employed or actively seeking employment or attend school or a job training program.
  • The proposed requirement for able-bodied adults to verify on a monthly basis compliance with the work requirements and any changes in family income.
  • The authority for AHCCCS to ban an eligible person from enrollment for one year if the eligible person knowingly failed to report a change in family income or made a false statement regarding compliance with the work requirements.
  • The authority for AHCCCS to limit lifetime coverage for all able-bodied adults to five years except for certain circumstances. 

Our Committee will present our proposed letter to the AzPHA Board on Friday and we’ll share the final letter here on the blog right after it’s approved.  If you’d like to participate in the editing process you can always contact tiffany@azpha.org and she’ll get you on our Public Health Policy Committee list.

Adios