Community Health Workers

Arizona's Community Health Worker Workforce:

Assessment of the Integration and Financing of Community Health Workers within Arizona Medicaid Health Plans

Now that the process is under way to provide voluntary certification of community health workers (via the ADHS Rulemaking), an important next is to engage Arizona health plan leadership in conversations about the integration and sustainability of the CHW workforce within Arizona’s Medicaid contracted health plans and provider networks. 

To that end, the Center for Health Equity Research at NAU through funding from the ADHS and in collaboration with the UA Prevention Research Center (AzPRC) wrote a report that was released this week which provides insight into innovative strategies for integrating, sustaining and scaling of the CHW workforce within AHCCCS.

The new report provides direct insight to this pathway via conversations with health plan leadership including topics on:

1. Current and Projected Utilization

2. Roles, Competencies and Skills

3. Recruitment and Training

4. Financing and Payment Models

5. Healthcare and Workforce Policy

The report found that Arizona health plan leaders recognize that Community Health Workers can play a significant role in improving patient outcomes and reducing system costs for health care. Many health plan leaders already actively support their contracted provider networks to better integrate and finance CHWs to meet HEDIS measures.

In fact, 4 AHCCCS Health Plans and 10 of 22 Federally Qualified Community Health Centers currently employ CHWs to link patients to community resources to promote self-management.

The research team found that health plan leadership expects that the new Arizona Complete Care Contracts will fundamentally expand the need for CHWs and the core competencies, roles and skills as plans expand their services and seek creative approaches to meeting membership medical and non-medical needs.

This week's report sheds light on important next steps toward building CHWs into the care network.

Congratulations and thanks to AzPHA member Dr. Samantha Sabo, Louisa O’Meara, and Katie Castro for their work on this important roadmap document.

New AZ Public Health Laws Take Effect Friday

State legislators passed several new laws that will influence public health last session- but almost all of them won’t take effect until Friday (August 3). The Legislature has developed a report that report that summarizes all of this year’s bills. The health-related bills are on pages 99-108.  Here’s a snapshot:

  • HB 2088 will require school districts to: 1) develop intervention strategies to prevent heat-related illnesses, sudden cardiac death, and prescription opioid use; 2) notify parents when kids are bullied; and 3) tell parents if a student is suspected of having a concussion.  An ADHS concussion training & management report is due at the end of 2018.

  • HB 2196 will limit ambulance certificate of necessity (CON) hearings to 10 days unless the Administrative Law Judge determines that there’s an extraordinary need for more hearing days.  Hearings had previously gone on for many weeks or even months.

  • HB 2197 requires AZ health licensing boards to collect certain data from applicants (beginning January 2020).

  • HB 2228 directs AHCCCS to exempt tribal members from work requirement waiver requests (more on this later in the update).

  • HB2235 will set up a new licensed class of dental professionals called a Dental Therapist.  The next step is for the AZ Board of Dental Examiners to develop the scope of practice and license regulations.

  • HB 2323 authorizes contracted nurses to provide emergency inhaler medication in case of respiratory emergencies (takes effect this semester).

  • HB 2324 charges the ADHS with implementing a voluntary certification for Community Health Workers. The next steps are for the ADHS to establish the advisory committee and begin the Rulemaking to set up the certification process.

  • HB2371 sets up statewide licensure for food trucks. The licenses will have reciprocity in all county health and environmental service departments.

  • SB 1083 will require public schools (K-3) to have at least 2 recess periods beginning this semester.   Grades 4 and 5 will be required to have 2 recess periods beginning August 2019.

  • SB 1245 will develop a produce incentive program within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program within ADES.

  • SB 1389 requires the ADHS to develop an HIV Action Plan.

  • SB 1465 requires the ADHS to adopt rules and license sober living homes.  It also allows them to contract with a third party to assist with licensure and inspections. They have a 2-year exemption from the regular rulemaking process.

  • Note: SB 1001 - The Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act was in a Special Session and became law several months ago. 

CHW Rulemaking, Opioid Epidemic Ends and Various CEU Opportunities

Community Health Worker Certification Rulemaking

The new law that authorizes the voluntary certification of community health workers will officially take effect on August 3 (HB 2324 Voluntary Certification for Community Health Workers). Voluntary certification can’t begin until the ADHS completes their Administrative Rulemaking (regulations) that’ll flesh out the details of the certification program including defining the core competencies, the criteria for establishing those competencies, continuing education requirements, the fee and other certification details. 

The first step in the Rulemaking process is for the ADHS to populate the 9 member advisory council to help inform the Rulemaking (the ADHS Director makes those appointments based on the criteria in the Session Law - the language at the end of the bill here).  After that, the agency needs to open the docket for the rulemaking and put draft rules out for public comment in what’s called the Arizona Administrative Register.

The public will then have a chance to comment on those initial draft regulations.  The ADHS will then consider those comments and file the final proposed rules with the AZ Secretary of State (here’s a summary of the rulemaking process on the SOS website).

Before the rules become effective- the agency needs to get final approval of the regulations by the Governor's Regulatory Review Council (GRRC).  If GRRC approves the rules- they’d become effective and voluntary certification could begin.

Realistically- even if the ADHS starts right away and appoints the advisory council and they begin meeting this Summer and began writing the initial draft rules later this year, it could easily take a couple of years before they’d become effective- so it's important to begin the process soon with initial advisory council meetings. 

You might be familiar with other agency rulemaking that have gone a lot faster than this.  That’s likely because those were probably “exempt” rulemakings, which provides several rulemaking short cuts including an exemption from the GRRC requirements.  Sadly, the CHW Rulemaking isn’t “exempt”.

The Rulemaking will be among the topics we’ll all be talking about at the AZCHOW Conference on June 21st and 22nd in Tucson.  Hopefully many of you will be able to make it.  AzPHA will be exhibiting at the conference.

 

Opioid Public Health Emergency Executive Order Ends

This week the Governor officially ended the emergency public health declaration that was signed via an Executive Order about a year ago.  Much has been accomplished over the last year including implementing legislation that improves prescribing practices and enhances emergency responses and increases access to treatment.  Of course- the work will go on.  The epidemic didn’t start overnight, and it surely won’t end overnight.  You can read the official end of the emergency declaration here.

Rep. McSally (R) is hosting a House of Representatives Border and Maritime Subcommittee hearing today (May 30) at 9:30 am at the UA College of Medicine Phoenix (Building 2) entitled: “An Unsecure Border and the Opioid Crisis: The Urgent Need for Action to Save Lives” featuring the Governor, various federal officials from the DEA, CBP, and DHS as well as Dr. Christ, Debbie Moak, and some people from faith-based organizations. You can see the panel line up here.  It looks like it’s an open meeting.

 

Aligning Health and Early Childhood Learning

Evidence shows how important early childhood education is in protecting people from disease and disability as an adult-  and that a child’s health impacts his or her ability to learn and succeed in school and later in life. Even with these known positive connections between early learning and wellness- health and education systems sometimes fail to align and provide opportunities to maximize health and early learning outcomes for children.

To address the disconnect between health and education, the HHS & US Department of Education outlined a set of recommendations for states and communities to align health and early learning systems. The recommendations emphasize the need for a comprehensive, seamless, and coordinated set of systems to support children, parents, and families.

 

Legislative Session Webinar Posted

The UA has posted my webinar from a couple of weeks ago that summarizes the legislative session from a public health perspective.  The whole thing is about an hour long.  You can check out the webinar on the UA Telemedicine Website.  Here’s the PowerPoint that I used.

 

CDC’s Learning Connection

The CDC has what they call a “Learning Connection” which connects public health professionals, including healthcare workers, to training opportunities and educational tools developed by CDC. Their Learning Connection also engages public health professionals around the world via social media messaging and a monthly e-newsletter.

The CDC Learning Connection: 1) features quality learning opportunities from CDC, other federal agencies, and federally funded partners; 2) keeps you up-to-date on the latest training through a free monthly e-newsletter; 3) offers access to thousands of training opportunities through CDC TRAIN — CDC’s online learning system; 4) connects you to information about CDC internships and fellowships; and 5) makes it easy to locate courses that offer continuing education. There are literally hundreds of courses one can take- mostly on-line and self-paced.

 

Free Continuing Education from MMWR and Medscape:

CDC MMWR and Medscape introduced a new FREE continuing education (CE) activity that describe trends and demographic differences in health outcomes and healthcare use for childhood asthma, based on a CDC analysis of asthma data from the 2001-2016 National Health Interview Survey for children 17 years and younger.

This activity is intended for pediatricians, pulmonologists, public health officials, nurses, and other clinicians caring for patients with childhood asthma. To access this FREE MMWR / Medscape CE activity visit https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/cme/medscape_cme.html. If you’re not a registered user on Medscape, you may register for free or login without a password and get unlimited access to all continuing education activities and other Medscape features.

 

Free Continuing Education Training for Opioid Prescribers offered by UA

With the requirement of Arizona prescribers to complete 3 hours of opioid, substance use disorder, or addiction-related CME, the University if Arizona’s Center for Rural Health we offer Arizona based materials and continuing education opportunities including:

Free online CME vouchers worth $150: order vouchers by responding to this email. We can mail them to you in batches of 100 to 500. Please feel free to forward the listserv blast below and attached documents for your attendees.

Free Arizona Opioid Prescribing Guidelines printed copies: order at http://www.azdhs.gov/audiences/clinicians/index.php#clinical-guidelines-and-rx-guidelines-order

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I’m doing my best to populate the “upcoming events” part of our AzPHA website.  If you have an upcoming public health related event- please let me know and I’ll get it up on our website at: http://www.azpha.org/upcoming-events/

 

Dr. Bob’s Travelogue

I’ve gotten a couple more Travelogues from Dr. Bob in the last couple of weeks.  He’s been living for the last couple of months just outside of London. He's writing some entertaining travelogues- with a splash of public health of course. Take a few minutes when you're on a comfortable couch and enjoy Travelogue 1 & 2: Getting Settled and Travelogue 3: Nutrition. Here’s Interlude from last week and this new one Hoof Beats.

AZ Public Health Policy Update: April 23, 2018

Feds Overhaul Essential Health Benefit Options

The Affordable Care Act required all health insurance policies sold on the Exchange and in the small group & individual markets to cover as set of “essential health benefits”.   Each Governor selects their state’s essential health benefits by choosing among options like their state employee plan, a small group market plan etc.  Each state has 10 options to pick from.  Governor Brewer selected the state employee plan as Arizona’s benchmark and Ducey did the same a couple of years ago.  Not a bad choice, because the benefits are generally robust- except that since the state employee plan doesn’t cover abortion services the state benchmark doesn’t either (although non-Medicaid plans can elect to cover those services).

Last week the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued an annual "Notice of Benefit Payment Parameters for 2019“. It outlined a big change.  Beginning in 2019 CMS will be giving Governors a lot more flexibility in selecting their state’s essential health benefit package.  Instead of 10 options, states will be able to choose among any of the essential health benefit benchmark plans used by any other state.  The new rules could have a profound impact on health insurance access and benefits.

It remains to be seen whether our Governor will choose a different benchmark plan moving forward.  Here’s a list of the various states’ insurance benefits benchmark mandates: [EHBs by State]

Legislative Session Update

The Governor vetoed 10 bills last Friday - apparently to send a message to the legislature that he wants the "20% by 2020" teacher funding bill on his desk forthwith. 

Luckily, the Community Health Worker voluntary certification bill needed to go back to the House for a Final Read- or it’s quite possible that it would have been veto number 11.  He did veto a good bill HB 2089 which would have required school districts to develop guidelines, information and forms on the dangers of heat-related illnesses, sudden cardiac death and prescription opioid use.

Last week was a busy one for the bills that we’re working on, so this update will be long again.  Once the session is over my updates will get shorter, I promise!

SB 1389   HIV; needs assessment; prevention was signed by the Governor last week.  It requires the ADHS to establish and implement an HIV Action Program to: 1) complete a statewide HIV Prevention and Care Needs Assessment (Assessment) of target populations (by November 1, 2020); 2) identify community-based agencies that serve the HIV population and that are outside of the known HIV service system; 3) conduct outreach to increase community involvement in HIV prevention, education and stigma reduction; 4) develop a social media initiative to engage at-risk populations to be tested for HIV infection; and 5) analyze data from the Assessment annually to develop and implement HIV training and education initiatives.

SB 1445 AHCCCS Dental care, pregnant women cleared the full Senate but still needs a House Rules hearing and a floor vote. It'll need an appropriation (to provide oral health coverage to pregnant Medicaid members)… so much of the discussion right now is about how much it would cost.

The direct cost to AHCCCS is estimated to be a little less than $268K/year.  However, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) believes that it could have secondary costs. Their thinking goes something like this: pregnant Medicaid enrollees that are not yet receiving prenatal care will discover that there's an oral health benefit and will make a dental appointment. The hygienist or dentist will discover the pregnancy and inform their health plan about the pregnancy. At that point, their eligibility category would switch to one with a higher state match rate (and presumably begin receiving prenatal care- which if it happened would be a good thing). 

The JLBC analysis assumes that 25% of the estimated 5,000 pregnant women currently enrolled in the expansion population but not receiving prenatal care will, because of the new benefit, go to the dentist- causing their eligibility to change (to a category called SOBRA), generating a $3.7M refinancing cost. 

Honestly, it seems unlikely to me that women who aren’t getting prenatal care will present to a dentist or hygienist for a cleaning.  I can see it if they have a toothache, but any secondary cos from a dental emergency would be associated with last year’s emergency dental benefit - not this new (proposed) preventative oral health benefit.  We’ll see what happens during the upcoming budget process.

A new problem is that the effort to raise teacher’s pay is probably going to jeopardize many programs that may have otherwise been funded, like this one.  It’s still possible that this might happen- but it’s a lot less likely now because of the effort to raise teacher’s salaries 20% by 2020.

HB 2159 traffic violations; traffic survival school has been languishing for the last few weeks.  Last week the bill passed the House and has been assigned a Conference Committee to resolve the differences with the Senate version.  This would prohibit drivers from “using a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while driving” (unless the car is stopped).  The first violation would be a petty offense with a fine between $25 and $99.

HB 2228 Annual waiver, applicability was signed by the Governor this week.  It’s good. It will direct AHCCCS to exempt tribes from their directed waiver request that asks for CMS permission to implement work requirements for some Medicaid members.  The recently submitted Waiver request includes an exemption for American Indians, however, this would place the exemption into statute.

HB 2235 dental therapy; regulation; licensure has had a long and somewhat bizarre trip through the legislature.  The original bill (SB 1377) would have set up a new licensed class of dental professionals called a Dental Therapist.  Their scope of practice would be somewhat less than a DDS, but they could do some procedures like filling cavities.  They could also practice anywhere.  The original bill passed the Senate but died in the House Health committee.  It came back to life a couple of weeks ago as what’s called a Strike Everything Amendment but stalled out again.  Then, this week, an amendment to the amendment was offered that seems to please everybody- and it passed the Senate 30-0.  It still needs to go back to the House, but it has a real chance now.

The Senate version limits dental therapists to only practicing at a Federally Qualified Community Health Center (or look-alike), or a nonprofit dental practice or organization that provides dental care to low-income and underserved individuals, or a private dental practice that provides dental care for CHC patients of record.  The amended bill also prohibits a dental therapist from performing nonsurgical extractions of permanent teeth unless under the direct supervision of a dentist.

The “school safety” bill called SB 1519 protective orders; schools; appropriations was proposed late last week by Senator Smith. Here’s a link to the introduced version.  It contains many of the things outlined by the Governor a few weeks ago related to firearms, schools and protection orders. A centerpiece is something called a “Severe Threat Order of Protection” which outlines a process to restrict firearm access for people who are a danger to themselves or others. There are also measures that would require AHCCCS to develop and post suicide prevention training and a statewide school safety hotline would also be established. 

There’s no provision in the bill for comprehensive background checks or restrictions on things called “bump stocks” which makes guns fire quicker. There are some other troublesome parts of the bill. 

Our folks in the Public Health Policy Committee (including AzPHA member Jean Ajamie who is a school safety expert) has been doing some analysis of the bill (you can see that stuff on our Committee Basecamp- let me know if you’d like to join that group). We haven’t taken a position yet- most likely we’ll remain neutral.  The bill passed the Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee this week. Next week will be the Senate Rules Committee.  There’s no mirror bill in the House at their point.  Stay tuned.

HB 2323  Schools; inhalers; contracted nurses was signed by the Governor this week.  This bill adds contracted nurses to the list of people who are authorized to provide emergency inhaler medication in case of respiratory emergencies. Some charter and independent schools don’t employ nurses directly but engage them through contracts.

HB 2324 Community health workers; voluntary certification was passed by the Senate this week (24-6)!  It passed the Senate in an amended form (including a provision to ensure that state procurements don’t favor contracting with certified vs non-certified CHWs).  There are two important steps left.  Because the Senate amended the House bill, it needs to go back to the House where Rep. Carter will likely formally concur with the Senate changes.  Then it needs a “Final Read” vote in the House to formally agree with the amendments the Senate added.  Assuming it passes the House again, then it’s on to the Governor for his approval (hopefully) The Senate amendments got the Goldwater Institute to be neutral- so I think we’re in good shape for a signature.

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Here’s a snapshot of where the various bills we’re working on are in the system. 

HB 2038 Drug overdose review teams; records (Signed into Law)

HB 2071 Rear-facing car seats (Stalled in Senate)

HB 2084 Indoor tanning; minors; restricted use (Now called SB 1290 as Striker) 

HB 2127 Children's health insurance program (Now called SB 1087 as Striker)

HB 2197 Health professions, workforce data (Ready for Senate Floor Vote)

HB 2208 Prohibition, photo enforcement (Effectively dead)

HB 2228 Annual waiver, applicability (Signed by Governor)

HB 2323 Schools; inhalers; contracted nurses (Ready for Senate Floor Vote)

HB 2324 Community health workers; voluntary certification (Senate floor vote this week)

HB 2389 Syringe access programs; authorization (Basically dead)

HB 2484 local food tax; equality (Signed by Governor)

SB 1022 ADHS; homemade food products (Signed by Governor) 

SB 1083 Schools; recess periods (Signed by Governor)

SB 1245 Snap Benefit Match (Needs Rules Committee & Budget Line)

SB 1261 Texting while driving (Now HB 2159 traffic violations; traffic survival school)

SB 1420 Medical marijuana; inspection; testing; appropriation (Needs House Rules)

SB 1445 AHCCCS Dental care, pregnant women (Needs House Rules Committee)

SB 1377 Dental therapy, licensure, regulation (Failed in House now HB2235 in Senate)

SB 1394 Abortion reporting (Signed by Governor)

SCR 1005 Voter Initiative Sunset (striker in the House)

 

Public Health-related bills that have been passed and signed:

HB 2038 Drug overdose review teams; records was passed and signed.  Once it takes effect later this year, law enforcement agencies will now be required to provide unredacted reports to the chairperson of a local Drug Overdose Fatality Review Team on request. 

HB 2228 Annual waiver, applicability was signed by the Governor.  It’s good. It will direct AHCCCS to exempt tribes from their directed waiver request that asks for CMS permission to implement work requirements for some Medicaid members.  The recently submitted Waiver request includes an exemption for American Indians, however, this would place the exemption into statute.

HB 2323  Schools; inhalers; contracted nurses was signed by the Governor.  This bill adds contracted nurses to the list of people who are authorized to provide emergency inhaler medication in case of respiratory emergencies. Some charter and independent schools don’t employ nurses directly but engage them through contracts.

HB 2484 local food tax; equality, which will ban Arizona cities and counties from taxing sugary drinks as a public health intervention.

SB 1022  DHS; homemade food products ADHS will be required to establish an online registry of food preparers that are authorized to prepare "cottage food products" for commercial purposes. Registered food preparers would be required to renew the registration every three years.

SB 1083 Schools; recess periods was passed and signed!  Beginning next school year K-3 will need to have at least 2 recess periods. Grades 4 and 5 will need to have 2 recess periods the year after that.

SB 1389  HIV; needs assessment; prevention was signed by the Governor last week.  It requires the ADHS to establish and implement an HIV Action Program. 

SB 1394 Abortion reporting was passed by the House and signed by the Governor.  It will require the ADHS to collect and report additional data regarding abortions that are performed in AZ.

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House Bills

HB 2038 Drug overdose review teams; records                

Passed and Signed

Law enforcement agencies will now be required to provide unredacted reports to the chairperson of a local Drug Overdose Fatality Review Team on request.  All information and records acquired by a Team are confidential and not subject to subpoena, discovery or introduction into evidence in a civil or criminal proceeding or disciplinary action.

HB 2071 Rear-facing car seats         

Stalled in Senate

This Bill would require kids under 2 years old to be in a rear-facing restraint system unless the child weights at least 40 pounds or is at least 40 inches tall.  We’ve signed up in support of this bill.  No action has yet been taken in the Senate so this bill is effectively dead.

HB 2084 Indoor tanning; minors; restricted use

Passed House but Stalled in Senate- now SB1290

This bill had been languishing in the Senate after passing the House by a 45-15 vote. Because of its lack of movement in the Senate it had appeared to be dead again this year.  However, this week it reappeared as a Strike All amendment in the House again as SB 1290.  It has now passed the House and has been sent back to the Senate.

HB 2127 Children's health insurance program

Stalled in Senate- now SB 1087 in House

After passing the House, this bill had been languishing in the Senate and appeared dead.  However, it was resurrected this week in the form of SB 1087 and was passed again by the House Health Committee last Thursday.  It still needs another House floor vote before it goes back to the Senate again.  It would remove the trigger that automatically freezes the KidsCare program if FMAP (the federal contribution) drops below 100%. 

It allows the state to freeze it if costs are more than the state or federal allotment. The bill does not require the state to appropriate any money for a state share.  We’ve signed up in support of this bill because it provides a pathway to keep KidsCare if the federal government drops its contribution level. 

HB 2197 Health professions, workforce data

Ready for Senate Floor Vote

This bill is looking good and ready for a final Senate floor vote.  It would require AZ health licensing boards to collect certain data from applicants (beginning January 2020) to get better data about health professions workforce distribution and needs.  The data would be confidential.  Over the long-term this bill would be helpful in providing better data with which to improve the distribution and capacity of the public health workforce in Arizona.

HB 2208 Prohibition, photo enforcement

Died in Senate

This one would prohibit cities and other jurisdictions from having photo enforcement of red light and speeding violations.  While nobody likes getting a ticket in the mail, the data suggest that photo enforcement saves lives and prevents injuries (especially red-light photo enforcement).  We’ve signed up in opposition to the bill.  This bill passed the House 31-27 but stalled in the Senate.  Honestly, it looks dead.

HB 2228 Annual waiver, applicability

Signed by Governor

This would direct AHCCCS to exempt tribes from their directed waiver requests to CMS asking permission to implement work requirements for some Medicaid members.  The recently submitted Waiver request includes an exemption for American Indians, however, this would place the exemption into statute.

HB 2323   Schools; inhalers; contracted nurses

Signed by Governor

This bill adds contracted nurses to the list of people who are authorized to provide emergency inhaler medication in case of respiratory emergencies. Some charter and independent schools don’t employ nurses directly but engage them through contracts.

HB 2324 Community health workers; voluntary certification

Needs Final Read in House

This was passed by the Senate this week (24-6)!  It was in an amended form (including a provision to ensure that state procurements don’t favor contracting with certified vs non-certified CHWs).  There are two important steps left.  Because the Senate amended the House bill, it needs to go back to the House where Rep. Carter will likely formally concur with the Senate changes, and then it needs a “Final Read” vote in the House to formally agree with the amendments the Senate added.  Assuming it passes the House again, then it’s on to the Governor for his approval (hopefully) The Senate amendments got the Goldwater Institute to be neutral- so I think we’re in good shape for a signature.

HB 2389 Syringe access programs; authorization 

Dead

This basically looks dead for this year. The bill that passed the House was great- providing clear decriminalization of needle exchange programs (needle exchange programs are technically a class 6 felony right now).  The version that passed the Senate only decriminalizes syringe exchange programs when and where the ADHS declares a public health emergency because of the rapid spread of infectious diseases.

It went to a Conference Committee this consisting of Rivero, Navarrete, Udall, Borelli, Brophy McGee, and Mendez… but Wednesday, Brophy McGee was replaced with Petersen, basically killing the House version- and the bill was dropped from the Conference Committee agenda- basically killing it.  Honestly, the Senate version of the bill wouldn’t have helped public health much if it all. Maybe next year.

HB 2484 local food tax; equality

Signed by Governor

The Governor signed this bill, which bans Arizona cities and counties from taxing sugary drinks as a public health intervention. The bill doesn’t specifically mention taxes on sugary drinks, but states that any tax on food needs to be uniform.  products must be uniform. Right now, there aren’t any Arizona cities or counties that are taxing soda and other sugary drinks, and this new law will ensure that it stays that was. 

 

Senate Bills

SB 1022    DHS; homemade food products            

Signed by Governor

ADHS will be required to establish an online registry of food preparers that are authorized to prepare "cottage food products" for commercial purposes. Registered food preparers would be required to renew the registration every three years. This is a sensible addition to the current cottage industry food law and we’ve signed up in support.

SB 1083    Schools; recess periods

Signed by Governor

This was passed and signed!  Beginning next school year K-3 will need to have at least 2 recess periods.  Grades 4 and 5 will be added the following year. This makes AZ a national leader in state school recess policy. A big shout out to AzPHA member Scott Turner and Christine Davis from Arizonan’s for Recess for their heavy lifting to make this happen!

SB 1245 Snap Benefit Match

Needs House Rules Committee and Budget Line Item

This Bill needs House Rules review before a House floor vote (and of course needs to make it through the budget process). This good Bill would appropriate $400K to ADES to develop a produce incentive program within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for members to buy Arizona-grown fruits and vegetables.  It would also provide matching funds to SNAP-authorized vendors as an incentive to participate in the fruits and vegetable program. 

SB 1261 Texting while driving

Now HB 2159 and Moving Again in House

This has been languishing for the last few weeks because it hasn’t been called up for a floor vote in the Senate.  Last week, the language from SB 1261 was added as an amendment onto HB 2159 traffic violations; traffic survival school.  This bill, with the addition of the texting language, passed the House and is headed back to the Senate and has been assigned a Conference Committee.

This would prohibit drivers from “using a portable wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic message while driving” (unless the car is stopped).  The first violation would be a petty offense with a fine between $25 and $99.

SB 1377 Dental therapy, licensure, regulation

Moving Again in Amended Form

This has had a long and somewhat bizarre trip through the legislature.  The original bill (SB 1377) would have set up a new licensed class of dental professionals called a Dental Therapist.  Their scope of practice would be somewhat less than a DDS, but they could do some procedures like filling cavities.  They could also practice anywhere.  The original bill passed the Senate but died in the House Health committee.  It came back to life a couple of weeks ago as what’s called a Strike Everything Amendment but stalled out again.  Then, this week, an amendment to the amendment was offered that seems to please everybody- and it passed the Senate 30-0.  It still needs to go back to the House, but it has a real chance now.

The Senate version limits dental therapists to only practicing at a Federally Qualified Community Health Center (or look-alike), or a nonprofit dental practice or organization that provides dental care to low-income and underserved individuals, or a private dental practice that provides dental care for CHC patients of record.  The amended bill also prohibits a dental therapist from performing nonsurgical extractions of permanent teeth unless under the direct supervision of a dentist.

SB 1394 Abortion reporting

Signed by Governor

This one would require the ADHS to collect and report additional data regarding abortions that are performed in AZ. The data would be collected and reported by providers and would include the reason for the abortion (economic, emotional health, physical health, whether the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or relationship issues etc.).

SB 1420 Medical marijuana; inspection; testing; appropriation

Needs House Rules Approval

This would require the ADHS to set up testing standards for medical marijuana and begin enforcing the standards beginning in 2019.  We’re supporting this legislation.  It passed the full Senate last week and was given a Pass recommendation by the House Military, Veterans & Regulatory Affairs Committee this week.

SB 1445 AHCCCS Dental care, pregnant women

Needs House Rules and Floor Vote & a Budget Line Item

This unanimously cleared the House Appropriations committee last week.  We were hoping to get a Rules committee hearing next week, but it’s not on the agenda, sadly.  The big hurdle will be getting an appropriation to cover the state match into the budget.

SB 1470  Sunrise process; health professions

After a dramatic start, this bill looks like it will have a consensus ending.  The sunrise process bill stakeholders negotiated changes to the current scope of practice sunrise process that everybody seems to be able to live with.  It passed in House this week by a 59-0 vote. It’s now ready for the Senate to concur in the House’s amendment.

AzPHA Public Health Policy Update: November 29, 2017

Community Health Worker “Sunrise” Passes Committee!

The Joint Health Committee of Reference heard detailed testimony on the Sunrise Applications turned in by the Community Health Workers Association, the Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association, and Dental Care for AZ.

They gave a favorable recommendation for the Community Health Worker and Dental Therapist applications but didn’t approve the Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association request.

The Community Health Workers are asking for a pathway to set up a process for voluntary registration of CHWs; the Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association would like permission for Naturopaths to sign medical waivers from the state’s school vaccination requirements and Dental Care for AZ asks for authorization from the legislature to license a new class of dental professionals called Dental Therapists.

We took positions for the CHW proposal and against the Naturopath’s proposal.  We were neutral on the dental therapy application.

The committee’s recommendations will be sent to the Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House of Representatives.  This week’s vote doesn’t mean that Community Health Worker Voluntary Certification will become law.  For that to happen, the proposal needs to be put into a Bill format, get a sponsor, pass the House and Senate and then get signed by the Governor.

Congratulations to the Arizona Community Health Workers Association for their diligent work preparing their Sunrise Application and for working with stakeholders and partners to set up the infrastructure needed to implement their vision including developing core competencies, training and certificate education, and internship opportunities.  

Also, a huge shout out to the Vitalyst Health Foundation for financially supporting this kind of community health initiative through their grant programs!

Next step- Voluntary Certification!

 

AHCCCS Finds Temporary Solution for KidsCare

AHCCCS found a temporary contingency plan to keep Arizona’s Kids Care program going for the next few months.  AZs KidsCare program covers about 24,000 kids in lower income families.  The program provides low-cost health insurance to children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but still make less than 200% of the federal poverty level (about $40,840 for a family of 3).  It’s not free, but premiums are reasonable (less than $50/month for one kid or $70 for multiple children.

Hopefully Congress will take action to extend the current CHIP Program (our CHIP program is called Kids Care) in the next few weeks. In the mean-time, AHCCCS has indicated that that they’ll use money from their regular Medicaid program to support the current program.  They indicated this week that there are only enough funds in the account to keep the KidsCare premiums paid into March 2018.

You can urge Senators McCain and Flake to reauthorize full funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program by contacting  Sen. McCain at: (202) 224-2235 or (602) 952-2410 and Sen. Flake at: (202) 224-4521 or (602) 840-1891.

 

CDC CME on Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Recommendations

CDC has a new and free continuing education opportunity regarding updated recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on the use of seasonal influenza vaccines.  Here’s a description for Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices — United States, 2017–18 Influenza Season.

The learning objectives for the CME are to:

1.   Describe available influenza vaccines for the 2017–18 season, based on updated ACIP recommendations;

2.   Describe new and updated information and recommendations regarding influenza vaccination during the 2017–18 season, based on updated ACIP guidance; and

3.   Describe contraindications and precautions regarding influenza vaccination during the 2017–18 season, based on updated ACIP recommendations. 

You can access this free activity by visiting: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/cme/medscape_cme.html

You can register for free or login without a password and get unlimited access to all continuing education activities and other Medscape features.

 

Non-addictive Painkillers as Effective as Opioids
In a new study of patients who showed up to an emergency department, researchers found that a cocktail of two non-addictive, over-the-counter drugs relieved pain just as well as - and maybe just a little better than - a trio of widely prescribed opioid pain medications.

The trial involved 416 patients who entered Montefiore Medical Center's Emergency Department in the Bronx with painful injuries. About 20% of them were diagnosed with a bone fracture. The rest suffered injuries such as a sprained ankle, a dislocated shoulder or a banged-up knee. Upon arrival, the patients were assigned to one of four groups. 

One group got a combination ibuprofen/acetaminophen tablet, containing the medications found in Advil and Tylenol. The other groups got a drug that contained a prescription narcotic, such as Percocet, Vicodin or Tylenol No. 3. Researchers asked patients to rate their pain upon arrival and two hours after they got their medication. Patients who got the acetaminophen/ibuprofen treatment reported pain relief just as substantial as did the patients who got one of the opioid painkillers.

Click here for the study and here for a news report.