Legislative Update- April 23

Legislative Update

We're to the part of the legislative session when bills that passed one chamber are approaching the finish line in the second.  There was some decent action on good bills this week- and a few of our priority bills cleared the House this week! Here's this week's Legislative Tracking Spreadsheet courtesy of our public health policy interns Tim Giblin & Annissa Biggane.

Below is a summary for the bills that passed last week -t hey still need to be signed but the Governor however:


Public Health Bills on the Governor's Desk

SB 1165 now HB 2318 Texting and Driving (Brophy McGee- Campbell)

This bill was a long time coming- but were on the precipice of having this good public policy finally happen- all that's left is for the Gov to sign it. It will prohibit using a hand-held cell phone while driving.  There are some common-sense exemptions for example if the person is using it hands free etc.  It'll change driving behaviors and save lives.


Violations are a civil money penalty (no driving points) with the first offense being between $75- $150 and the 2nd offense between $150 and $250.  The bill would provide a state overlay so the cell phone use laws would no longer be different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Warnings for a year and a half - and then the penalties kick in.

SB 1247 Residential Care Institutions (Brophy McGee)

This good bill will require more robust staffing background checks for facilities that provide services for children and will remove the “deemed status” designation for child residential behavioral health facilities.  Under current law, facilities in this category (e.g. Southwest Key) can be accredited by a third party (e.g. Council on Accreditation) and avoid annual surprise inspections by the ADHS.  This intervention will provide more oversight to ensure background checks are done and that the facilities are compliant with state regulations. 


Note: still needs to go back to the Senate for a procedure before transmittal to Gov.

SB 1211 Intermediate Care Facilities (Carter)

Like SB 1247, this bill closes a licensing loophole.  This good bill will require more robust staffing background checks for facilities that provide services to people with disabilities at intermediate care facilities.  These facilities would also require a license to operate from the Arizona Department of Health Services beginning on January 1, 2020.  Under current law these facilities (Hacienda de los Angeles and similar facilities run by the ADES are exempt from state licensing requirements)

SB 1040 Maternal Mortality Report (Brophy-McGee)

This bill passed both chambers unanimously but in slightly different forms, so while it passed the House last week 60-0 it still needs to get re vetted in the Senate- which should be no problem.  The new law will establish an Advisory Committee on Maternal Fatalities and Morbidity.


It requires ADHS and the Committee to hold a public hearing to receive public input regarding the recommended improvements to information collection concerning the incidence and causes of maternal fatalities and severe maternal morbidity and complete a report (including recommendations) by 12/31/19.


Note: still needs to go back to the Senate for a procedure before transmittal to Gov.


SB 1089 Telemedicine

Last week in a vote of 60-0 the house passed this good telemedicine parity bill which will improve healthcare access and help lower costs. With this legislation, any healthcare service covered in-person by a commercial insurer will also be covered when provided through telemedicine. Currently, Arizona law limits telemedicine coverage to a handful of medical services. The bill will now go to the Governor to sign into law.

Public Health Bills Signed by the Governor


SB 1109 Short Term Limited Health Plans- extension – AzPHA Position: Opposed

This bill has passed both chambers and has been signed by the Governor.  It authorizes the sale of short- term limited health plans in Arizona for terms up to 3 years.  The previous limit was 1 year.  These plans don’t cover pre-existing conditions and have limited consumer protection because they aren’t required to cover the essential health services under the ACA and can drop enrollees.  We urged a not vote because of the poor consumer protections.

HB 2488 Veteran Suicide Annual Report (Lawrence)

Requires ADHS (starting this year) to complete an annual report on veteran suicides in Arizona that includes the number and rate of veterans who died by suicide, trends, an analysis of the years of potential life lost, a comparison of Arizona's resident veteran suicide rate to those of the nation, and the relative risk of suicide by race or ethnicity, age group, gender and region.  The report is also supposed to analyze patterns of drugs, or combinations of drugs, that were used by Arizona's resident veterans when drug poisoning was the mechanism of suicide.

The idea is to create the surveillance and data linkages needed to inform suicide prevention strategies based upon medical risk factors that significantly correlate to suicide.

State Budget

Not much action above the water on the state budget. The state is expected to have a $1B surplus this year and there's differences of opinion about how much to put in the rainy day fund and of course what other priorities rise to the top of each legislator's list. 

Our top budget priorities are getting the needed state match for Kids Care (more on that below), an appropriation to cover a new oral health benefit for pregnant Medicaid members (SB 1088), and an increase in the state loan repayment program and residency funds to improve access to care in rural and underserved areas (SB 1354).

Here's this week's Legislative Tracking Spreadsheet courtesy of our public health policy interns Tim Giblin & Annissa Biggane.