Weekly AzPHA Public Health Policy Committee Update

Here’s this week’s summary regarding the action at the State Legislature.  We’re still looking through the information from the congressional budget office regarding the American Health Care Act. 

Physical Activity

HB 2082 is a good bill that would require schools to have 50 minutes of unstructured recess per day from K through 5th grade. It passed the House awhile back and is being heard in the Senate Education Committee on Thursday, March 16 at 9 am in Senate Hearing Room 1.  AzPHA is of course supporting it.  We also sent the committee members a letter this week pointing out that the literature suggest that physical activity during the school day improves cognitive skills and attitudes, enhances concentration and attention, and improves classroom behavior.  The data were published by the CDC in a report called The Association Between School-based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performancea few years ago.  

Community Health Workers

HB 2426, which would set up a pathway for Community Health Workers in AZ, passed successfully through the House but faces a tough time in the Senate.  It’s been assigned to the Commerce and Public Safety Committee where it will need to be heard in Committee by Monday, March 20 (the last scheduled Committee meeting before the deadline).  The committee is chaired by Senator Steve Smith of District 11 (Casa Grande, Maricopa, Eloy, Avra Valley).  We sent out an Action Alert this week to our members urging them (especially any that live in District 11) to reach out to Senator Smith (602) 926-5685and urge him to hear the Bill in committee next week.

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 passed the full House awhile back.  Last week it passed through the Senate Health and Human Services committee.  All good news so far.  On to the Senate floor and ultimately to the Governor for his signature.

Nurse Anesthetists

SB 1336 passed the Senate last week and was assigned to the House Health Committee where it will be heard this week (Thursday am at 9 am in HHR 4).  Interestingly, it is the only bill on the House Health Committee agenda this week.  It would basically let nurse anesthetists issue a medication order in the scope of his or her practice.   AzPHA is signed in support and also submitted information to the committee talking about how this bill would be good for access to care in rural AZ.

Newborn Screening for SCID

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 was unanimously approved by the House Health Committee last week.  This one is looking good.

Tribal Courts and Involuntary Commitment 

HB2084 which would allow a mental treatment facility to admit a patient for involuntary treatment pending the filing of a tribal courts involuntary commitment order was assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee and was quickly approved by that committee last week. Looking good.    

Traffic Safety Cameras

HB2525 passed the House last week.  It would ban traffic safety cameras in AZ.  We're against this one. It was assigned to the Senate Transportation and Technology Committee.  No hearing set yet.  If it’s not heard in committee by next week this is probably dead (for now).

Teenage Texting & Driving

SB 1080 which would ban brand-new teen drivers from using their smart phone (for the first 6 months of their license (if they're under 18) passed the Senate and passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on March 1.   

Sunscreen & Tanning Beds

HB 2134 which would make it clear that kids can take sunscreen to school and camps... and that school and camp staff can help them put it on was assigned to the Senate Education Committee. No committee hearing set yet in the Senate.

HB 2194 - which prohibits kids under 18 from using tanning beds and prevents studios from claiming that tanning beds are risk-free was assigned to the Commerce and Public Safety and Health and Human Services Committees.  That's called being "dual assigned" and it's almost always a bad thing for a bill because it will need to pass through both committees unless we can convince the President of the Senate to withdraw it from one of the committees.

Flu Vaccines at Hospitals

HB 2090 which would require hospitals to offer influenza vaccines to seniors during the cold and flu months was assigned to Senate Health and Human Services Committee.  No hearing date is set yet.  All bills need to be heard in the second Chamber by 3/24… so this one is on a pretty short leash right now.  

Drug Overdose Review Team

HB 2493 which would set up a drug overdose review team at the ADHS (much like the child fatality review team) was assigned to the Senate Health & Human Services Committee.  No hearing date set yet.

Voter Initiative Stuff
Perhaps some of the most troubling bills and resolutions in terms of public health have to do with the voter initiative process.  Many of the real big achievements in public health have been voter initiatives (e.g. Smoke Free Arizona Act).  A couple of the bills that would change how voter initiatives work would require voter approval, but a couple could be approved by the Legislature (with the Governor’s signature).  We're not alone in our opposition to these proposals- lots of people are concerned about them. Here's a quick summary:

  •  HCR2002 & HCR2007 (which would need to be approved by voters to become effective in the 2018 general election) passed the House has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  These bills haven’t been scheduled yet but we expect there to be action the week of March 20.  
  • HCR2029 passed the house yet but would require signature gatherers to get a certain number of signatures in each of the 30 legislative districts.  This one would ultimately need to be approved voters in the 2018 general election.  Sent to the Senate but it's not assigned to a committee yet.
  • HB 2404 passed through the House (as amended) and would prevent signature gatherers from getting paid by the signature (for voter initiatives- not for candidate signatures).  This one could become law without voter approval and was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it’ll be heard on Thursday at 9 am.

AHCCCS Waiver Comment Period Extended to March 29, 2017.

Senate Bill 1092 was passed and signed into law in 2015 requiring the AHCCCS to annually apply the CMS for an Amendment to the current AHCCCS Section 1115 Waiver that would implement the following requirements for “able-bodied adults” receiving Medicaid services:

  • Limit lifetime AHCCCS coverage for all able-bodied adults to 5  years except for certain circumstances.
  • Require all able-bodied adults to become employed or actively seeking employment or attend school or a job training program and require them to verify on a monthly basis compliance with the work requirements and any changes in family income.
  • Ban eligible persons from enrolling in AHCCCS for 1 year if the person knowingly failed to report a change in family income or made a false statement regarding compliance with the work requirements.

The initial deadline was February 28, however, AHCCCS has extended the deadline to March 29.  AzPHA submitted comments on the Waiver in February.  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 March 29.

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.