AzPHA Public Health Policy Committee Update

Our Public Health Policy Committee has been pretty busy over the last few weeks following bills making their way through the state legislature... the latest 1115 Waiver application that AHCCCS has submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services... and activity at the national level regarding the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  Here’s a snapshot of AzPHAs activities over the last few weeks and what's up this week.

Active Health-related Bills

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. 

We also signed in support of 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... and it needs to be unstructured meaning that kids get to make their own physical activity choices.  That bill passed 11-0, but like HB 2335, there’s still a ways to go and plenty of hurdles to overcome before this would become law.

Last week we expressed support for SB1086  SB1087  SB1088 all of which address distracted driving in various ways.  None of the bills have been heard in their respective committees yet, but if and when the time comes, we’re prepared to inform the committee about the public health and safety risks posed by distracted driving.

HB 2046 went down in flames last week- it would have required motorcycle drivers and passengers operators to wear a helmet at all times unless they pay a fee to ADOT when they register their motorcycle.  That bill failed to get out of the Transportation Committee in the House and appears to be dead.

The House Health Committee will be really active this week (Thursday starting at 9 am).  There are several bills up that we'll be supporting.  Included are: HB 2090- which would require hospitals to offer influenza vaccines to seniors during the cold and flu months; HB 2134- which would make it clear that kids can take sunscreen to school; HB 2190 - which would ask ADHS to compile stroke statistics; and HB 2208- which would authorize school staff to administer inhalers for kids having asthma symptoms (under certain circumstances). Dr. Lynn Gerald and colleagues at the UA College of Public Health have been doing active research in this area which is informing the policy development- just like things should be.

Meanwhile, over in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee (Wednesday at 2 pm), we'll be in support of SB 1368 which will authorize the ADHS to collect the newborn screening fees needed to add Severe Combined Immune Deficiency syndrome to the list of newborn screening tests.  I'll have a blog post on that topic later this week.

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.

Budget Proposals

Our AzPHA Board met a few weeks ago and authorized AzPHA to express support for several bills that Legislators have proposed, as well as some of the elements of the Governor’s budget proposals.  We’re in firm support of proposals in the budget to: 1) add Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID) to Arizona’s Newborn Screening Panel; 2) increase funding to the state’s loan repayment program by $350K (potentially allowing the state to qualify for a full $1M in matching funds from HRSA); and 3) adding up to $1,000 annually for adult emergency dental services among  all AHCCCS members.  

 

We believe that these are all important proposals that will improve public health in Arizona.  Since the budget isn’t being formally negotiated yet, we haven’t had an opportunity to sign in support of these proposals, but we’re poised to jump into the fray when the time comes.   

AHCCCS Waiver

AzPHA is also working on comments to submit to AHCCCS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding Arizona’s 2017 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 comments are due February 28.  We will be done before that deadline and will share our comment letter with AZPHA members as soon as we’re finished.  If you’d like to participate in writing the letter you can always contact tiffany@azpha.org and she’ll get you on our Public Health Policy Committee list.