Last week was an important one in terms of public health policy to say the least!
All of you know by now that the American Health Care Act didn't attract enough support in the US House of Representatives to pass (it didn't come to the Floor because the Speaker knew the votes weren't there).
AHCA would have fundamentally changed the Medicaid funding by switching it to a block grant or per capita cap. AHCCCS has an easy to read 2-page summary of how AHCA would have impacted Medicaid in Arizona. The proposal also would've eliminated the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a critical resource for protecting Arizonans from dangerous infectious diseases and other crucial public health issues like the opioid poisonings.
A big THANK YOU to all of our members that reached out to the AZ delegation last week in response to our Action Alert. Adding your voice as an independent advocate for public health is important!
Nobody really knows what's going to happen in the future regarding prospective efforts to modify or repeal the Affordable Care Act. Our Public Policy Committee team will continue to be vigilant - and we'll update you here is we hear anything. On to things at the State Legislature:
Health Bills Passed
HB 2208 will let school staff administer or help a student self-administer an inhaler for things like asthma episodes when it becomes law later this year (under certain circumstances). It passed both houses & has been signed by the Governor. Well done Dr. Lynn Gerald at the UA Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health for informing this debate.
Tribal Courts & 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 has passed both houses of the legislature and has been sent to the Governor. Looking good.
Health Bills in the Final Stretch
HB 2082 which would enhance recess time in Arizona is looking good. It passed its hearing in the Senate Education Committee (but was amended to eliminate the 50 minute per day requirement). We're pleased that the Bill appears to be headed to the Governor's desk (although it needs to complete the Senate Rules Committee & go back to the House since it was amended).
SB 1336 passed the Senate last week and, after a compromise amendment, passed through the House Health Committee but still awaits the House Rules Committee hearing before going to the House floor. AzPHA is in support and 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 and the was unanimously approved by the House Health Committee. It still needs House Rules Committee approval and then would go to a house floor vote.
HB 2134 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. It passed the Senate Education Committee last week but still needs approval of the Senate Rules Committee before going to a final Senate floor vote.
Drug Overdose Review Team
HB 2493 would set up a drug overdose review team at the ADHS (much like the child fatality review team). It passed the Senate Health & Human Services Committee last week but still needs the Rules Committee hearing before a final vote of the Senate.
Teen Texting & Driving
SB 1080 would ban brand-new teen drivers from using their smart phone (for the first 6 months of their license (if they're under 18). It passed the Senate and passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on March 1. Still waiting for the Rules Committee hearing.
Health Bills that look Dead for Now
Influenza Vaccines in 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… so this one is on a pretty short leash right now.
Traffic Safety Camera Prohibition
HB2525 passed the House last week but was never heard in the Senate Transportation and Technology Committee, so it's effectively dead for this year (for now).
HB 2194 which would have prohibited kids under 18 from using tanning beds and prevents studios from claiming that tanning beds are risk-free is effectively dead for this year.
On to the Budget...
Now that most of the House and Senate work on bills is winding up- full attention will turn to the budget negotiations. We'll focus some time on next week's update on the budget and our related public health priorities- like restoring adult emergency dental as a benefit under Medicaid.
If you’re interested in joining our Public Policy Committee, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll get you on our list. We have a weekly call every Monday at11 am and someone from the committee is always down at the Legislature for key hearings.