Weekly AzPHA Public Health Policy Committee Update

AHCCCS Waiver Request

AHCCCS received several hundred comments regarding their proposed waiver request as required by Senate Bill 1092.  The law requires AHCCCS to annually apply the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for an Amendment to their Demonstration 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.

AzPHA submitted our response letter on the waiver application back in February.  Several hundred people and organizations turned also in comments regarding the waiver request.  More than 90% of the commenters expressed concerns about the various items in the waiver including the 5 year limitation on benefits, monthly income reporting and other proposed requirements.  Five percent (5%) of the commenters expressed support for the waiver request.

Here are links to the: 

CMS will now consider whether or not to approve the request (CMS has the final say regarding whether to approve any or all of the pieces of the waiver).  My guess is that the discussions will be on-going between CMS and AHCCCS this Summer.  

CMS denied a similar request last year, but for obvious reasons many of us in the public health world are concerned that this year's request may be approved - given the changes in leadership at CMS in the last few months.

State Legislative Update

Activity at the Arizona State legislature is pretty much just focused on the development of a budget for the next fiscal year.  We're still hopeful that the budget will include funding for adult emergency dental services for all Medicaid (AHCCCS) members; authorization to raise the fees needed to add Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID) to Arizona’s Newborn Screening Panel; added funds for state’s loan repayment program which would enable the state to qualify for a full $1M in matching funds.

Nurse Anesthetists  

SB 1336 was passed and signed last week, clarifying the scope of practice for nurse anesthetists.  We've been in support of the bill because it will be good for access to care in rural AZ.  Hospitals have had increasing difficulty recruiting physicians due in part to a lack of clarity in Arizona law that leads doctors to believe they’ll be held liable for the work of  nurse anesthetists. At a time when we already face a shortage of nurses and physicians – particularly in rural and underserved communities, our focus should be eliminating red tape and empowering these health care professionals to do their jobs 

Teen 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) continued it comeback last week.  It passed through the House Rules Committee and the full House and is headed back to the Senate for a final approval before going to the Governor for consideration.