Weekly AzPHA Public Health Policy Committee Update

We're at about the halfway point in this year's legislative session now. The only committees meeting next week are the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate.  There’ll be lots of Rules, caucus, Committee of the Whole & 3rd reading this week.  It’s harder for the public to be involved in the process this week, but you can always contact your legislator (remember to use your NON-work computer & e-mail) to share your views, concerns & suggestions.

Congress is on break this week which means some of them might be organizing town hall type forums in the coming days.  There isn’t much scheduled yet- but we have our eyes peeled- and we’ll do an update blog when and if they end up being scheduled in the next couple of weeks.  

Active Health-related Bills

Good news on several bills that we supported last week. The bills below made it through their respective committees and are likely all on their way to floor votes this week.  Last week was the deadline for hearing bills in their chamber of origin- which is why many of the committees had such robust agendas.  Here’s a quick summary:

Community Health Workers

HB 2426 ,which would set up a pathway for Community Health Workers in AZ to voluntarily become certified passed the House Health Committee 9-0.  Yea!  We signed up in support of the bill and testified on its behalf as well.   Voluntary certification would be a big step forward for this important health profession because it would expand the use of CHWs in Arizona’s healthcare system in part by making it easier to get reimbursement for their services.  This bill is on the House Rules Committee Agenda on Monday morning (2/20).  Looking good for a floor vote this week.

Oral Health

Good & bad news on the oral health front last week.   HB 2442 which would add some dental services for pregnant women enrolled in AHCCCS, passed the House Health Committee 9-0.  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.  The bad news is that the bill was also assigned to the House Appropriations committee (because it would cost a little money) but it’s not listed on the House Appropriations Committee Agenda this week.   If it doesn’t get added, it would be a real setback- but it would still be possible for it to be ultimately included in the budget bills.

 Asthma Management

HB 2208 which would (under certain circumstances) let school staff administer or help a student self-administer an inhaler for things like asthma episodes also sailed through House Health 9–0.  This bill is on the Rules Committee agenda for Monday (2/20). Still looking good for a floor vote this week.

Vaccines

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 a couple of weeks ago and passing through the Rules committee this week.  Still on track for a floor vote this week.

Sunscreen

HB 2134 which would make it clear that kids can take sunscreen to school also got a favorable recommendation from House Health 9-0 a couple of weeks ago and also passed through the Rules committee last week.  Lookin’ good for a floor vote this week.

Physical Activity

HB 2082 sponsored by Jesus Rubalcava and, which would require all schools to have 50 minutes of recess per day from K through 5th grade is still looking good.  That bill passed 11-0 in the House Education Committee a couple of weeks ago and got through the Rules Committee last week.  Ready for a floor vote now.

Newborn Screening

Meanwhile, over in the Senate, SB 1368, which 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, passed through the Senate Health and Human Services Committee a couple weeks ago and is looking good for a senate floor vote this week.

Tobacco

A couple of weeks ago we 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.  It passed in the House Health Committee 7-2, but was never heard in the Commerce committee- meaning it’s probably finished this year unless it can somehow be unassigned to Commerce. 

New AzPHA Policy Positions

After viewing bills in the various committees over the last couple of weeks, the AzPHA Health Policy Committee came to the Board asking for approval to take positions on the bills below.  Here’s a quick summary:

Nurse Anesthetists

We’ll be supporting SB 1336 moving forward.  It’s complicated, but basically it would help improve access to care in rural areas by adjusting the prescribing authority for nurse anesthetists.

Drug Overdose Review Team

We’ll also be supporting HB 2493 which would set up a drug overdose review team at the ADHS much like the child fatality review team.

Photo Traffic Enforcement

Let's face it. Getting a ticket in the mail for speeding or running a red light is no fun.  But the evidence suggests that photo enforcement of red lights and speed is an effective public health intervention, which is why we’re weighing in against HB2525 this upcoming week in the House Appropriations Committee (Wed. at 2 pm).  It would prohibit any jurisdiction from using photo enforcement technology to enforce red light running etc.  If you scroll back, you’ll see a separate blog on this topic.

AHCCCS Waiver

The AzPHA’s Board reviewed and approved our comments on the current AHCCCS 1115 Waiver application.  Here’s a link to the waiver application and our response letter.    We encourage all AzPHA members to look at our response letter and use what you think is useful to turn in your own comment letter to AHCCCS via e-mail to publicinput@azahcccs.gov by February 28.