Legislative Budget Negotiations Underway & Several Public Health Initiatives in the Mix

All signs are that the Legislature is focusing on building a budget for next fiscal year.  The Republican leadership in the House and Senate met with representatives from the Governor’s Office over the weekend to come up with a budget proposal.  Here’s a link to the proposed budget worksheet.

It’s still unclear whether they have a plan that'll pass. Several issues stand in the way - including a dispute about the statute of limitations for sexual assault victims and other specific priorities that some lawmakers are linking to their support of a budget.  Committee hearings on the spending plan won’t occur until Wednesday at the earliest (if they happen this week at all).

Some of our priorities are included in the weekend proposal (e.g. KidsCare funding & an appropriation for federal funds for child care subsidies), but several other priorities aren’t included (increases in the AZ primary care and loan repayment program and for additional primary care residencies).  Also not included is preventative dental services for pregnant Medicaid members.

Now would be a really good time for you to use any relationships you have with legislators to let them know that you support the encouraging portions of the initial proposal (e.g. KidsCare) but you believe more needs to be done to support access to care in rural and underserved areas by investing in the state’s loan repayment program and through increased residency opportunities (GME), as well as preventative dental care for pregnant Medicaid members.

Here’s the subset of the budget proposal related to public health and human services:

Medicaid

  • Fully funds KidsCare and eliminates the risk of an enrollment freeze by paying the increased state match requirements that are coming up (FY20 = $1.6M, FY21 = $9.4M, FY22 = $9.4M) 

  • Makes last year’s one-time $13M increase for providers that serve persons with developmental disabilities (because of the Prop 206 minimum wage increase) ongoing.  The proposal also includes a $6.7M cap rate increase for the current year for those providers.  Proposes an additional $13M in provider funding for the upcoming fiscal year.

  • Provides new Prop 206 (minimum wage increase) funding for Elderly Long-Term Care (for persons with developmental disabilities) of $4.8M

Child Care Subsidies

  • Appropriates $56M Childcare Block Grant funding (this is entirely federal funding- but the feds still require a state appropriation to draw down the funds)

Arizona State Hospital

  • Provides $2.8M in pay raises for AZ State Hospital staff 

  • Provides $300K for AZ State Hospital for a temporary staffing contract increase

Miscellaneous Health Items

  • Increases Alzheimer's funding by $2M ($1M base)

  • Proposes $1M for rural prenatal equipment

  • Proposes $700K for Colorado City primary care clinic

  • Proposes $1.5M for Benson and Northern Cochise critical access hospitals

  • Continues $3M annual appropriation for TGEN for 3 years

  • Provides $10M to the Housing Trust Fund for programs related to homelessness

  • Provides an additional $15M for an Arizona Department of Education school safety grant program for School Resource Officers, behavioral health counselors and social workers

  • Provides $1.6M for Veteran's Suicide Prevention (includes $450K for trauma training)  

This part of the legislative session is very fluid and things can move quickly or completely stall out at any time.  

Now would be a really good time for you to use any relationships you have with legislators to let them know that you support the encouraging portions of the initial proposal (e.g. KidsCare) but you believe more needs to be done to support access to care in rural and underserved areas by investing in the state’s loan repayment program and through increased residency opportunities (GME), as well as preventative dental care for pregnant Medicaid members.

To find your Senator and Representative go to: https://www.azleg.gov/findmylegislator/