Medicaid

National Medicaid Performance Measures for Kids Released

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program serve nearly 46 million children which is 33% of the kids in the US- which means that these programs are a huge leverage point for improving health outcomes.  Measuring the effectiveness of these programs is critical to improving their performance and in providing the information needed to design policy interventions.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services plays a key role in promoting quality health care and as part of their accountability standards they have a core set of health care quality measures for children in Medicaid and CHIP that by applying a standardized set of measures designed to measure and improve the quality of care. 

The 2017 Child Core Set includes 27 measures among the following domains of care: 1) Primary Care Access and Preventive Care; 2) Maternal and Perinatal Health; 3) Care of Acute and Chronic Conditions; 4) Behavioral Health Care; and 5) Dental and Oral Health Services. 

CMS released this year’s “Chart Pack” last week, which includes an analysis of state performance on 19 of the reported measures.  Arizona reported data from 11 of the indicators.  I Haven’t had the time to dive into the details, but if you’re interested in learning more you can explore the performance measures and the results in the September Report

US DHS Proposed Regulations Chill Programs that Address Social Determinants

Last Saturday the US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen proposed new rules that (when adopted) will consider a much wider range of public benefits when they evaluate applications for an immigration change of status or extension of stay request.  

DHS already uses information about whether applicants for legal permanent residency receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) when they evaluate applications.  After these new rules are adopted, they’ll also consider whether applicants receive Medicaid (AHCCCS), Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), and Section 8 Housing program.  Once adopted, applicants that receive any of these benefits will be far less likely to be approved for a status change or stay extension.  I didn’t see any exemptions for children- so presumably benefits used by any noncitizen family member including kids would count.

Here are some take-aways from the draft: 

  • This is an issue of legal immigration- unauthorized migrants are largely ineligible for public assistance;

  • The use of public benefits by citizen children would not be considered a public charge;

  • This does not directly impact green card holders (the public charge test is not applied to green card holders applying for citizenship);

  • The proposed rule is not retroactive – meaning the public benefits received before the rule is final will not be counted as a public charge; and 

  • The proposed rules would not apply to refugees because existing statute prevents DHS from using the criteria for refugees.

A few months ago, DHS issued a discussion draft of the rule change that would have also included programs like Women Infant and Children (WIC) program, school lunch programs, subsidized marketplace health insurance and even participation in the Vaccines for Children program.

Even though the new draft doesn’t include vaccinations (VFC), WIC and marketplace insurance- many families will believe that the regulations do include these benefits and will elect not to use these important safety net benefits- as doing so will risk their immigration status.  As a result, families will have a more difficult time improving the health status of their families.  

The proposed new rules are 447 pages long- but a key place to look are pages 94-100 (that’s where the outline the new list of benefits that they intend to include).  The official proposal will be published in the Federal Register in a few weeks.  Once it’s officially published, the public will be able to comment on the proposed rule for 60 days.  The official version in the Federal Register will contain information about how to submit comments. I’ll keep my eye out for that.

History of Considering Public Benefits

The term “public charge” as it relates to admitting immigrants has a long history in immigration law, appearing at least as far back as the Immigration Act of 1882.  In the 1800s and early 1900s “public charge: was the most common ground for refusing admission at U.S. 

In 1999, the INS (DHS didn’t exist yet) issued Rules to "address the public’s concerns about immigrant fears of accepting public benefits for which they remained eligible, specifically medical care, children's immunizations, basic nutrition and treatment of medical conditions that may jeopardize public health.” Here's that final Rule from 1999, which didn't include Medicaid our housing benefits in the public charge definition.

Kids Care Included in the AHCCCS Budget Request

Good news.  AHCCCS’ 2020 budget request includes a general fund request of $7.9 million for KidsCare. The request was made under the assumption that the KidsCare trigger law will be amended this coming legislative session, preventing a freeze to CHIP enrollment.

There’s a trigger in state law that automatically freezes the Arizona KidsCare program if FMAP (the federal contribution) drops below 100%.  Under current federal law, the match rate is scheduled to go down to about 90% (9 federal dollars for every state dollar) on October 1, 2019.  So, if the current law isn’t changed during this next legislative session then we’ll likely have an enrollment freeze of the Kids Care program again this time next year.

The fact that AHCCCS included the $7.9M in state matching funds in the budget is encouraging, but the budget request isn’t enough to solve the problem- the legislature would need to change the statute and appropriate the funds to prevent an enrollment freeze.

Kids Care is run by AHCCCS and currently covers about 30,500 kids with a pretty good set of benefits and reasonable premiums.  It’s only available for kids in families that don’t qualify for regular Medicaid and who live in a family that makes under 200% of poverty.

Kids Care & ACA Advocacy

Election season is upon us and KidsCare and healthcare generally are key issues we want candidates for state office to weigh in on.  The Children’s Action Alliance has a helpful election’s page up and running now!  On it you can link to it to point the communities your organization serves to where they can contact candidates, see where candidates stand on issues, and register to vote. CAA is also launching a digital ads campaign around the key questions for candidates today.

Here’s is a fact sheet from Families USA explaining what’s at stake for people with pre-existing conditions in Arizona. The issue is a bit complicated to understand, but here goes for anyone that’s interested. Currently, there is a lawsuit, Texas v Azar, making its way through the courts that challenges the ACA as unconstitutional. 

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has signed Arizona on as a plaintiff state. If the lawsuit is successful, the protections for people with pre-existing conditions, along with other parts of the ACA, will be repealed.  

We don’t know the timetable on a final court decision, but we do know that, if the lawsuit is successful, Arizona’s law is set up so that these protections will essentially be repealed simultaneously in state statute.

US Senate Proposes Opioid Crisis Response Act

Last week the US Senate released the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, a bipartisan package to address the opioid epidemic. The Act authorizes funding to expand prevention, research, treatment, and recovery programs- but even if it passes as-is, it would still need to go through the actual appropriations process.

The Senate is expected to vote on the Bill soon without the opportunity for amendments and it’s expected to be approved on a broad bipartisan basis (much like the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act was). But, after that, it’s unclear whether the House will vote on this version or the Bill or move to conference the Opioid Crisis Response Act with the recently House-approved “SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R.6)”.  Here’s a summary of what’s in the bill as it sits today:

Medicaid 

  • Clarifies flexibilities around Medicaid’s "Institutions for Mental Disease" (IMD) exclusion where in some cases managed care plans may provide alternative services in lieu of other services that are not permitted under the state plan. 

  • Modifies IMD exclusion for pregnant and postpartum women to address a subset of the prohibition on Medicaid from paying for otherwise coverable services for certain adults while in institutions for mental disease. 

  • Codifies regulations permitting managed care plans to cover treatment in an IMD facility for a certain number of days in a month in lieu of other types of services.

  • Clarifies states’ ability under Medicaid to provide care for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) in residential pediatric recovery centers.

  • Directs CMS to issue guidance to states on options for providing services via telehealth that address substance use disorders under Medicaid.

  • Directs CMS to issue guidance on states’ options for treating and managing pain through non-opioid pain treatment and management options.

  • Clarifies states’ ability to access and share data from prescription drug monitoring program databases consistent with the parameters established in state law.

  • Directs HHS to provide technical assistance to states to develop and coordinate housing-related supports and services under Medicaid, either through state plans or waivers, and care coordination services for Medicaid enrollees with substance use disorders. 

Prevention

  • Authorizes CDC’s work to combat the opioid crisis through the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data, including through grants for states, localities, and tribes.

  • Authorizes funding through CDC from FY19 - FY24 for states to improve their prescription drug monitoring programs and implement other evidence-based strategies.

  • Authorizes funding from FY19 - FY21 for CDC to support states’ efforts to collect and report data on adverse childhood experiences through existing public health surveys.

  • Authorizes a HHS grant program through 2026 to allow states to develop, maintain, or improve prescription drug monitoring programs and improve their with other states and with other health information technology.

  • Authorizes data collection and analysis through 2023 on neonatal abstinence syndrome or other outcomes related to prenatal substance abuse and misuse, including prenatal opioid abuse and misuse. 

  • Creates an interagency task force to make recommendations regarding best practices to identify, prevent, and mitigate the effects of trauma on infants, children, youth, and their families.

 

Treatment and Recovery

  • Allows physicians who have recently graduated in good standing from medical schools to prescribe medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

  • Authorizes a grant program from FY19-FY23 to support development of curriculum that will help healthcare practitioners obtain a waiver to prescribe MAT.

  • Codifies the ability of qualified physicians to prescribe MAT for up to 275 patients if the practitioner meets certain requirements. 

  • Authorizes a grant program from FY19 - FY23 through SAMHSA for entities to establish or operate comprehensive opioid recovery centers that serve as a resource for the community.

  • Requires HHS to issue best practices for emergency treatment of known or suspected drug overdose, use of recovery coaches after a non-fatal overdose, coordination and continuation of care, and treatment after an overdose and provision of overdose reversal medication as appropriate.

  • Requires HHS to provide technical assistance to hospitals and other acute care settings on alternatives to opioids for pain management and authorizes a grant program to support hospitals and other acute care settings that manage pain with alternatives to opioids. 


Some of these policy measures were also recommended in the ADHS' set of federal policy recommendations in their 2017 report.  Sadly, nothing in here directs HHS to drop its policy of not funding syringe access but all in all this Senate bill looks like it's pretty good public health policy.  Nice to see.

State Action to Stem Rising Prescription Drug Costs

By Association for State and Territorial Health Officials Staff

The high cost of prescription drugs is a persistent problem in the United States, with about 10 percent of overall health spending attributed to prescription drugs. In recent years, there has been increased interest among states to address the rising cost of prescription drugs. Just this year, 24 states passed 37 bills to stem rising drug costs. In total, state legislatures have introduced 160 bills targeting prescription drug costs in 2018.

States have pursued a wide range of strategies to tackle the high cost of prescription drugs, including policies that address drug price transparency, rate setting requirements to prevent price gouging, drug importation programs, generic drugs companies, and pharmacy benefit manager transparency.

 

Drug Price Transparency

Controlling healthcare costs is one of the three elements of the Triple Aim, along with improving population health and patient care experience. As a first step toward controlling costs, states are seeking more price transparency requirements from drug manufacturers. In 2018, six states passed legislation addressing drug price transparency. Many of these laws adopt more stringent transparency policies requiring drug manufacturers to justify price increases over certain thresholds. For example, Connecticut requires drug manufacturers to justify price increases for specific drugs if the price increases by 20 percent or more in a year or 50 percent over three years.

 

Price-Gouging and Rate Setting Requirements

Anti-price gouging and rate setting requirements use information collected from transparency laws to allow states to impose penalties for excessive drug price increases. Currently, Maryland is the only state with an anti-price gouging law. The policy allows the state Medicaid agency to notify the state’s office of the attorney general when an essential off-patent brand name drug or generic medication has an excessive price increase.

Maryland’s attorney general can then request justification from manufacturers for the price increase. If the rationale of the price increase is deemed unjustified by “the cost of producing the drug, or the cost of appropriate expansion of access to the drug to promote public health,” the state can impose civil penalties or use other mechanisms to penalize the manufacturer. However, a lawsuit has since been filed in federal court by drug manufacturers asserting violations of Constitutional law as it relates to interstate commerce. To date, twelve other anti-price gouging bills have been introduced in states, although none have been enacted.

 

Drug Importation

Earlier this year, Vermont became the first state to pass a drug importation bill, allowing the state to import wholesale prescription drugs from Canada for use by all state residents. The law requires the designation of a state agency to become a licensed drug wholesaler, or to contract with a licensed drug wholesaler. Several steps remain before Vermont’s program can go into effect, including the state health department receiving federal approval from HHS by July 2019. In addition, although the Utah legislature failed to pass a bill that would have created a program for importing drugs from Canada, the legislature requested that the Utah Department of Health conduct a feasibility study associated with drug importation.

 

Generic Drugs

Recently, Maine passed a law requiring brand name manufacturers to make samples of drugs available to generic drug manufacturers, with the intention of promoting competition by increasing access of information for companies developing lower-cost generic drugs. The law states that, “In order for there to be competition in the prescription drug market, developers of generic drugs and biosimilar biological products must be able to obtain quantities of the reference listed drug or biological product with which the generic drug or biosimilar biological product is intended to compete.”

 

Pharmacy Benefit Managers

Several states have passed bills regarding pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which require increased transparency and disclosure of information on drug rebates and concessions. For example, Nevada passed a law in 2017 requiring PBMs to disclose the amount of rebates received from drugs used to treat diabetes. Connecticut’s drug price transparency law also requires PBMs to provide information on rebates and other price concessions received from drug companies. Mississippi passed a law preventing PBM gag clauses, which stop pharmacists from sharing information with patients on lower-cost drug options.

 

Other State Policies

In Montana, the legislature passed a bill establishing an interagency committee to study state drug pricing and spending trends, which will make recommendations to the state legislature on drug pricing policies in late 2018. In addition, New York implemented an annual cap on drug spending in its Medicaid program. Under the law, if spending projections extend beyond the cap, the state health department must identify the costliest drugs and attempt to negotiate additional rebates with manufacturers. This law also gives the state the authority to develop an independent panel that can penalize manufacturers through various mechanisms.

 

Future Opportunities

Emerging state legislation to address the rising cost of drug prices in demonstrates potential paths forward to address drug prices at the state level. The National Academy of State Health Policy (NASHP) has developed model legislation to address drug price transparency, drug importation, rate setting, and pharmacy benefit managers. The NASHP resource includes model legislation for states, bill text from states that have already passed legislation, and relevant briefing documents.

Leveraging Doulas to Improve Birth Outcomes

Doulas are professionals who provides physical, emotional, and informational support to a woman throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. Doula’s act as a facilitator between the laboring women and her physician by ensuring that mom and dad get the information they need in a way that they understand so they can make informed decisions. 

A growing body of evidence suggests that continuous support from doulas or other non-clinical labor support can improve birth outcomes for both mothers and infants, fewer preterm and low-birth weight infants, and reductions in cesarean sections. In fact, when doula services are included throughout the pregnancy and birth process, births cost less. A recent study found that when a doula is included in the process births cost an average of $986 less - including the doula service fee.

Currently, Minnesota and Oregon take advantage of the fact that doulas can reduce healthcare costs while improving outcomes in their state Medicaid programs. In the 2018 budget, Minnesota increased the reimbursement rates for doulas.  The new law also requires Oregon’s coordinated care organizations (which deliver Medicaid services) to provide information about how to access doula services online and through any printed explanations of benefits. The law tasked Oregon Medicaid with facilitating direct payments to doulas, which was addressed through rulemaking.  

Several organizations, such as DONA International, provide doula training and certification. Women can also choose to become certified as community-based doulas through HealthConnect One. This community-based doula program model, which has been replicated nationwide to serve unique populations, trains doulas to provide culturally sensitive pregnancy and childbirth education to underserved women in their own community. While all doula services can be beneficial, creating a standard for the training and certification of doulas may improve understanding and acceptance of doula care.

Looking for more info? Access this UA Issue Brief on Doula Coverage to Help Minimize Arizona’s Birth Woes

Who's a Doula?

By AzPHA Member Prashanthinie (Prashi) Mohan, MBA

Over the last few years, there has been more and more focus on the triple aim – improving patient experience, reducing costs, and improving population health. Accomplishing these goals requires the system to be creative and actively look for new approaches to lowering costs while improving outcomes.

Doulas are increasingly being recognized as a professional that can do just that. 

Several studies have shown that moms who have doula services during their pregnancy and delivery have fewer cesarean sections and epidurals, reduced premature births, higher rates and a longer duration of breastfeeding. In March 2014, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal medicine issued a consensus statement which explicitly stated that published data has indicated better labor and delivery outcomes when continuous support personnel such as doulas are used.

So, we’ve got better outcomes covered, what about lower costs?

Recent evidence on the return on investment for doulas is encouraging. In addition to improving birth outcomes, doula coverage can also be cost effective (if not cost saving) to Medicaid programs. Doula coverage can help reduce costs by lowering the rate of pre-term and cesarean deliveries. One study conducted across 10 states computed an average savings of $986 per doula supported birth.

Despite the evidence on doula-supported births, only 6% of U.S. women who give birth are estimated to have doula support. Low income women and women of color, who are the most likely groups to want doula services, may not be able to afford doula services, which can cost $500 to $750 per birth in Arizona.  Because few health plans currently reimburse for doula services, most women are unable to take advantage of the improved outcomes and enhanced birth experience that doulas provide.

Licensed and culturally trained doulas who are from the minority communities can not only provide emotional support during the prenatal period and the delivery process, but can also help facilitate key communication between the mother and her care providers.

The question is, what are we waiting for? Doulas have proven to be effective in improving birth outcomes cost effectively in other states in the U.S. It’s time Arizonans start looking into how doula services can be efficiently reimbursed for the mothers in our state.

CMS Position on Native American Exemptions from State Medicaid Work Requirements Complicates AZ Waiver Request

A 2015 AZ law requires AHCCCS to annually ask the CMS for permission to require work (or work training) and income reporting for “able bodied adults” and a 5-year lifetime limit on AHCCCS eligibility.  The work requirement waiver requests turned in during the Obama Administration were denied, but the new administrator CMS has publicly said (and written) that they're receptive to proposals from states to require work or community engagement for people who want to receive Medicaid.

Late last year AHCCCS submitted their annual official waiver request asking permission to implement the following requirements for certain adults receiving Medicaid services including a requirement to become employed, actively seek employment, attend school, or partake in Employment Support and Development activities (with exceptions) and a requirement to bi-annually verify compliance with the requirements and any changes in family income.  CMS has not yet ruled on the AZ request.

One of the exempted groups in the waiver request is American Indians.  Starting Friday (when HB 2228 takes effect) the exemption of tribal members won’t just be an administrative decision, but one required by Arizona law.  That’s because HB 2228 requires AHCCCS to exempt tribal members from their work requirement waiver requests.  Here’s the exact statutory language:

36-2903.09.  Waivers; annual submittal; definitions

B.  SUBSECTION A OF THIS SECTION DOES NOT INCLUDE OR APPLY TO AMERICAN INDIANS OR ALASKA NATIVES WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR SERVICES UNDER THIS ARTICLE, THROUGH THE INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE OR THROUGH A TRIBAL OR URBAN INDIAN HEALTH PROGRAM PURSUANT TO THE INDIAN SELF-DETERMINATION AND EDUCATION ASSISTANCE ACT AND THE INDIAN HEALTH CARE IMPROVEMENT ACT.

However, a letter signed by CMS official Brian Neale suggests that CMS won’t be approving waiver requests that exempt tribal members.  In a letter to tribal members he writes, regarding exempting tribal members from state Medicaid eligibility work requirements “… Unfortunately, we are constrained by statute and are concerned that requiring states to exempt AI/ANs from work and community engagement requirements could raise civil rights issues.”

In a nutshell, (beginning Friday) Arizona law will require AHCCCS to exempt American Indians from their directed work requirement waiver request (they have already administratively elected to do so).  CMS is on record saying that they're constrained by statute and have civil rights concerns about allowing states to exempt American Indians from work requirement and reporting waivers. 

It stands to follow that CMS may very well deny Arizona’s request to exempt tribal members from work and reporting requirements despite our new law (36-2903.09 (B)). If that happens, there will surely be a legal review to determine exactly the intent of 36-2903.09 (B)

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. 

Immigration Status, Public Benefits, Health & Access to Care: A Primer

With all the attention on immigration status and its intersection with public benefits and access to health care- I thought I’d take a crack at summarizing these issues for our membership.  Here goes:

Noncitizens make up about 7%  percent of the US population. It’s not surprising that they’re more likely to be low-income and uninsured than citizens- in part because of the opportunity limitations. In fact, 71% of undocumented adult noncitizens are uninsured.  By and large, many of them rely on Federally Qualified Health Centers for their primary care and other healthcare- in part because FQHCs have sliding fee scale service fees and serve immigrants regardless of their immigration status.

Medicaid generally limits eligibility for immigrants to qualified immigrants with refugee status or veterans and people lawfully present in the US for 5 years or more.  State Medicaid programs can elect to provide coverage to legally present immigrants before the 5-year waiting period ends (Arizona does not).

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (often referred to as PRWORA or welfare reform) is the federal law that created Medicaid’s “qualified immigrant” standard.

Other federal safety net programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) also apply the five-year waiting period for legally present immigrants.

States can get matching funds from Medicaid (CMS) when they choose to provide Medicaid coverage to legally present immigrants who are children or pregnant women before the end of the 5-year waiting period.  33 states have elected to cover lawfully residing immigrant children, and 25 states cover legally present pregnant women (Arizona does not).

The Affordable Care Act made it possible for the legally present immigrants who are ineligible for Medicaid due to being in the five-year waiting period to qualify for commercial coverage and subsidies on the Federal health insurance marketplace.

Immigrants eligible for Medicaid or employer-sponsored insurance face several coverage and service barriers.  As I mentioned in a blog a few weeks ago immigration officials consider the likelihood of individuals and families becoming a “public charge,” which can result in denied admission to the US or status as a lawful permanent resident.

Fear that using safety net services will mean that they’ll be considered a public charge contributes to some families of mixed immigration status avoiding use of services like TANF, Medicaid, SNAP etc.  Some eligible immigrants avoid services because they think family members will become involved in immigration enforcement actions.

Research findings by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that changes in healthcare use and decreased participation in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program because of this immigration policy.

Anyway, it’s a complicated system but I hope this makes it a little clearer.

Community Paramedicine Continues to Mature in AZ

Community paramedicine has been a paradigm shift for the use of paramedics in the US- and Arizona has been a national leader.  It’s a new model in which paramedics function outside their usual emergency response & transport roles- delving into the world of primary care.  As the health care world increasingly shifts toward prevention and well care- the system will increasingly demand more folks that can function in a community health (primary care and prevention) role.  Community paramedicine is increasingly being recognized as a promising solution to efficiently increase access to care (especially for underserved populations). 

For example- paramedics could shift from a sole focus on emergency response to things like: 1) providing follow-up care for folks recently discharged from the hospital to prevent unnecessary readmissions; 2) providing community-based support for people with diabetes, asthma, congestive heart failure, or multiple chronic conditions; and/or 3) partnering with community health workers and primary care providers in underserved areas to provide preventive care. 

One component of Community Paramedicine is known as “Treat and Refer” and it has really taken a step forward in the last couple of years in Arizona.  A couple of years ago the initiative was launched under the leadership of AzPHA Members David Harden, Terry Mullins, Dr. Ben Bobrow and others at the ADHS.

It’s called the Arizona Treat and Refer Recognition Program and was developed in partnership with the ADHS Bureau of EMS & Trauma Systems, AHCCCS, and the EMS community. Organizations that earn Treat and Refer recognition implement the program under the direction of their medical director and chief executive.  Once recognized, the EMS Agency can seek reimbursement from AHCCCS for the services they provide.  You can check out the AHCCCS website to learn more about provider registration.

Five EMS agencies have now been recognized as Treat & Refer EMS agencies. The T&R Program establishes a means for recognized EMS agencies demonstrating optimal patient safety and quality of care by matching treatment, transport, and care destination options to the needs of the 9-1-1 patient; and provide recognized EMS agencies the opportunity to seek reimbursement from AHCCCS.


The ADHS Bureau of EMS & Trauma Systems offers a pre-application technical review service to EMS agencies considering applying for recognition. The service includes a comprehensive review of EMS agencies’ education modules, standing orders, patient follow-up process, and performance improvement/quality assurance process.

Policy Update: Family Planning, ACA Lawsuit, Work Requirements and Assault Weapons

Summer & Fall Public Health Activities in AZ

Interested in finding out about the various public health conferences, meetings and events this Summer and Fall?  

Bookmark our AzPHA Upcoming Events webpage.  It’s as simple as that.  If I’ve missed something- let me know at willhumble@azpha.org!

 

Proposed Title X Funding Changes Likely to be a PH Burden

The US Department of Health and Human Services has proposed changes to the rules for the federal family planning services program, known as Title X.  If the new rules are adopted as proposed, it’ll require Title X family planning services to be physically and financially separate from abortion services.

Many family planning clinics offer both family planning and abortion referral services, and if the changes are ultimately implemented many of the programs would likely decide not to take Title X funding, which would have a big impact on the network of available services and they’d have fewer resources available for STD screening, treatment and outreach.

BTW: Title X funds have never been allowed to be used for abortions. The proposed rule is available for public comment until the end of July.  You can read more about the proposed rule and comment by visiting the Federal Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Just follow the instructions to submit.  Your comments might not influence the outcome, but at least you’ll have done your part. That and voting this Fall.

 

Federal Government Won’t Defend the Affordable Care Act in Court

So far, the Affordable Care Act has survived the 2 court challenges that made it to the US Supreme Court.  Back in 2012 the ACA was upheld by the Supreme Court for the first time (by a 5-4 margin) in the National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius case.   It was upheld again in 2015 when (in a 6-3 decision) the Supreme Court upheld ACA’s federal tax credits for eligible Americans living in all 50 states (not just the 34 states with federal marketplaces).

But, there are additional challenges out there that haven’t made it to the Supreme Court yet. One that’s progressing through the courts is a challenge filed by 20 states (including Arizona) arguing that the ACA’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and key parts of the act — including the provisions protecting those with pre-existing conditions — are invalid. 

This week Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged that while "the Executive Branch has a longstanding tradition of defending the constitutionality of duly enacted statutes if reasonable arguments can be made in their defense," the Attorney General will not defend the ACA from this challenge.  

The implications could be profound.  The ACA could potentially be completely overturned- or portions that require health plans to cover pre-existing conditions could be eliminated along with the mandate that persons have health insurance.

 

Medicaid Work/Community Engagement & Reporting Requirements

Any day now, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be approving Arizona’s request to include work requirements and/or community engagement and reporting requirements as a condition of Medicaid enrollment.  The request filed by AHCCCS is required by Senate Bill 1092 (from 2015) which requires them to ask CMS’ permission to implement new eligibility requirements for “able-bodied adults”.

AHCCCS initially proposed implementing the following requirements for able-bodied adults receiving Medicaid services including: 1) a requirement for all able-bodied adults to become employed or actively seeking employment or attend school or a job training program; 2) requiring able-bodied adults to verify monthly compliance with the work requirements and any changes in family income; 3) banning an eligible person from enrollment for one year if the eligible person knowingly failed to report a change in family income or made a false statement regarding compliance with the work requirements; and 4) limiting lifetime coverage for all able-bodied adults to five years except for certain circumstances.

Hundreds of comments were submitted (including comments from AzPHA) urging the agency to consider modifications to the initial waiver request.  AHCCCS later issued a final waiver request which includes exemptions for:

  • Those who are at least 55 years old;
  • American Indians;
  • Women up to the end of the month in which the 90th day of post-pregnancy occurs;
  • Former Arizona foster youths up to age 26;
  • People determined to have a serious mental illness (SMI);
  • People receiving temporary or permanent long-term disability benefits from a private insurer or from the government;
  • People determined to be medically frail;
  • Full-time high school students older than 18 years old;
  • Full-time college or graduate students;
  • Victims of domestic violence;
  • Individuals who are homeless;
  • People recently been directly impacted by a catastrophic event such as a natural disaster or the death of a family member living in the same household;
  • Parents, caretaker relatives, and foster parents; or
  • Caregivers of a family member who is enrolled in the Arizona Long Term Care System

A subsequent letter from the AHCCCS Administrator suggested that they (AHCCCS) are suspending their request for a 5-year limitation on lifetime benefits (for some members) for now.  Here’s our letter from back in February of 2017. 

 

Kaiser Family Foundation Issue Brief on Work Medicaid Requirements

Last month the Kaiser Family Foundation published an Issue Brief regarding CMS’ recent decisions to grant states the ability to experiment with their Medicaid programs that condition Medicaid eligibility on work or community engagement. The Issue Brief examines evidence of the effects of the Medicaid expansion and some changes being implemented through waivers.

Many of the findings on the effects of expansion are drawn from the 202 studies included in our comprehensive literature review that includes additional citations on coverage, access, and economic effects of the Medicaid expansion.

Regarding work requirements, the Brief concludes that “state-specific studies in Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and most recently Montana and Louisiana have documented or predicted significant job growth resulting from expansion. No studies have found negative effects of expansion on employment or employee behavior. In an analysis of Medicaid expansion in Ohio, most expansion enrollees who were unemployed but looking for work reported that Medicaid enrollment made it easier to seek employment, and over half of expansion enrollees who were employed reported that Medicaid enrollment made it easier to continue working.  Another study found an association between Medicaid expansion and increased volunteer work in expansion states.

Furthermore, “work requirements have implications for all populations covered under these demonstrations. Those who are already working will need to successfully document and verify their compliance and those who qualify for an exemption also must successfully document and verify their exempt status, as often as monthly. States would incur costs to pay for the staff and systems to track work verification and exemptions.”

If you’re interested in the public health policy implications of our upcoming work/community engagement and reporting requirements, the KFF Issue Brief is a must-read.

 

Court Challenge to Kentucky’s Work Requirements being Heard this Week

Oral arguments are being heard this week in DC challenging Kentucky’s requirements that members work or participate in "community engagement" activities such as job training, school or volunteering. The case was filed in January by the National Health Law Program, the Kentucky Equal Justice Center and the Southern Poverty Law Center.  The outcome could have implications for AZ’s upcoming requirements.

Read National Health Law Program's guide on what to expect from oral argument.

American Medical Association Endorses Assault Weapon Ban

The American Medical Association – Nation’s largest physician group – endorsed a ban on assault weapons as part of a package of measures aimed at combating the epidemic of gun violence in the US. The member driven initiative was endorsed at their annual policy conference. They also endorsed a ban on bump stocks, which basically turn semi-automatic rifles into automatic weapons. 

In a statement AMA Immediate Past President David O. Barbe, MD, MHA said: “People are dying of gun violence in our homes, churches, schools, on street corners and at public gatherings, and it’s important that lawmakers, policy leaders and advocates on all sides seek common ground to address this public health crisis, in emergency rooms across the country, the carnage of gun violence has become a too routine experience.”

 

AzPHA Public Health Policy Update

Save the date

90th annual azpha fall conference and annual meeting

Integrating Care to Improve Public Health Outcomes:

Primary Care | Behavioral Health | Public Health

October 3, 2018 

Desert Willow Conference Center

There’s widespread support for the goals of the Triple Aim: To deliver the highest quality care with an optimal care experience at the lowest appropriate cost. The key is developing systems of care that best achieve these goals. 

Our 90th Annual Fall Conference and Annual Meeting Integrating Care to Improve Public Health Outcomes: Primary Care | Behavioral Health | Public Health will explore efforts currently underway to integrate care and improve outcomes in Arizona as well as initiatives on the horizon to develop systems of care that best achieve the goals of the Triple Aim.

We’ll kick off our Conference with a presentation of the latest academic research that evaluates the outcomes of co-located and integrated models of behavioral care as part of primary care as well as evidence-based toolkits to assist practices including ways to measure progress. We’ll also be exploring how providers are implementing new strategies to integrate care via AHCCCS’ “Targeted Investment” program which provides financial incentives to eligible providers to develop systems for integrated care.

We’ll conduct a short AzPHA Annual Meeting over a delicious buffet lunch followed by our keynote address from the American Public Health Association President Joseph Telfair, DRPH, MSW, MPH.  In our afternoon sessions, we’ll learn about new initiatives to work with managed care in two key areas that impact health outcomes: tobacco use and housing and homelessness.

We’ll close with a panel discussion of key leaders among Arizona’s Managed Care Organizations as they discuss priorities and strategies for improving outcomes under the new integrated Medicaid contracts which will begin October 1, 2018.  The new contracts will require better coordination between providers which can mean better health outcomes for members.

After the conference we'll have a hosted reception as we celebrate AzPHA’s 90th Anniversary!

I’m still working on the agenda, but I expect to have it fleshed out in a couple of weeks and have our registration site up and sponsorship packets out by the 3rd week in June. A summary of the conference is up on our homepage at www.azpha.org.

 

American Cancer Society Changes Colon Cancer Screening Recommendation

The American Cancer Society changed their recommendation for colon cancer screening by moving down the standard recommendation 5 years- suggesting that most people get screened at age 45. There are a couple of ways people can get screened, either using a sensitive test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stool or with an exam that looks at the colon and rectum (a colonoscopy).  The reason they changed the recommendation is because new data shows that cases of colorectal cancer for people under age 55 increased 50% between in the last 20 years (1994-2014).

However, just because the recommendation from the ACS changed doesn’t necessarily mean that insurers will begin paying for it between 45 and 49 years old.  For that to happen, the United States Preventive Services Task Force would need to recommend the change and list it as a Category A or B preventive health service.

In recent years, a prevention model of health has woven its way into the fabric of traditional models of care. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act the role preventive services has expanded significantly in the US health care delivery system.  Preventive health care services prevent diseases and illnesses from happening in the first place rather than treating them after they happen.

Category A & B” preventive services recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force  are now included (at no cost to consumers) in all Qualified Health Plans offered on the Marketplace. In addition, many employer-based and government-sponsored health plans have included Category A & B preventive services in the health insurance plans they offer to their respective members.

Currently, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends 49 Category A & B Preventive Health Services that include screening tests, counseling, immunizations, and preventive medications for adults, adolescents, and children.  The Task Force consists of a panel of experts representing public health, primary care, family medicine, and academia.  They update the list of recommended services by reviewing best practices research conducted across a wide range of disciplines.

You can also browse the USPHS website and check out the preventive services that they have evaluated but don’t recommend. Most of the services are broken down by age, gender and other risk factors.

 

Medicaid Program Scorecard Released by Feds

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a new Medicaid program scorecard this week.  It includes some quality metrics along with federally reported measures in a Scorecard format.

The data that’s built into the state by state scorecard only uses information that states voluntarily submit.  There are 3 main categories (state health system performance; state administrative accountability; and federal administrative accountability) and lots of subcategories.

The most interesting part of the Scorecard I think are the State Health System Performance Measures portion.  Some of the subcategories that are reported in that category on a state by state basis are things like well child visits, mental health conditions, children’s preventive dental services and vaccination rates, and other chronic health conditions.

It looks like a good and valuable tool that will (if they continue to populate the scorecard) provide more transparency into the effectiveness of state Medicaid programs over time. The data that are submitted are voluntary - not compulsory - so that hurts the number of measures that states turn in.  It might be something that you’ll want to bookmark for reference in the future.

 

Federal “Right to Try” Law Passed and Signed

Congress passed and the President signed a new law this week that gives people with a terminal illness new options for treatment by allowing those folks a way to independently seek drugs that are still experimental and not fully approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The new law basically gives terminally ill patients the right to seek drug treatments that remain in clinical trials and "have passed Phase 1 of the FDA’s but haven’t been fully approved by the FDA.  

Arizona voters have already approved a similar law (by a wide margin).  In 2014 AZ voters approved Proposition 303  (referred to the ballot by the Legislature) that makes investigational drugs, biological products or devices available to eligible terminally ill patients. The AZ law has uses the same definition of an "investigational" drug that the new federal law uses.

 

Western Region Public Health Training Center Grant Renewed

The Western Region Public Health Training Center was awarded a renewed grant as a center for the Regional Public Health Training Centers Program.  They’ll continue to be housed in the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and we will continue to assess the training needs and strengthen the skills of the public health workforce with their partners in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Islands.

The training center has literally hundreds of trainings that focus on all sorts of health professionals and the public health workforce.  So no matter what your public health workforce training needs are – the thing to do first is to check the centers website to see if they have the course that you need.  Most likely they will.

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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/

AzPHA Comments on AHCCCS' Proposed Network Sufficiency and Appointment Standards

May 11, 2018

 

Thomas J. Betlach

Administrator,

Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System

801 E Jefferson Street

Phoenix, AZ 85034

 

Dear Administrator Betlach:

I write on behalf of the Arizona Public Health Association (AzPHA) – one of Arizona’s oldest and largest membership organizations dedicated to improving the health of Arizona citizens and communities. An affiliate of the American Public Health Association, our members include health care professionals, state and county health employees, health educators, community advocates, doctors, nurses and students.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on your AHCCCS Contractors Operations Manuals for the upcoming October 1 Integrated Care Contracts.  We have reviewed the proposed 400 Series Manuals and have comments on ACOM 436 (Minimum Network Requirements) and 417 (Appointment Availability, Monitoring and Reporting).

ACOM 436 Minimum Network Requirements

We applaud the Administration for applying measurable and verifiable standards for geographic network adequacy.  We like the way the Administration is using a standard which includes a percentage of the members within both a discrete distance and time from a provider in the various categories. The percentages and distances for rural and urban areas seem reasonable.  We encourage you to keep these types of easily measurable and verifiable standards in the final ACOM 436.

County public health departments support medical homes especially in under-served areas.  Their core services include vaccinations, sexual transmitted disease testing and treatment, reproductive health, and tuberculosis prevention and control.  These are services that patients are not always able or willing to access in their medical home. When county health departments are not a network provider, this critical health care infrastructure component is unavailable to members which can gave a substantial negative impact on community and member health. Please require your new integrated managed care plans to include Public Health departments in their health care provider networks. 

This will ensure fairness in providing services to your members, provide revenue that enables county health departments to continue to serve their communities, and prevent taxpayers from paying twice for access to critical health services.

A key to making member choice meaningful requires contractors to be transparent about whether they are meeting Minimum Network Requirements.  When contractors are out of compliance with the ACOM 436 Standard(s), we encourage the Administration to require contractors to disclose on their websites, newsletters and other member communication materials which standards they have not complied with and/or have requested exceptions from so that Members can take that information into consideration as they choose plans. This disclosure standard may need included in ACOM 404 for compliance purposes. The information should also be added to the AHCCCS enrollment websites

ACOM 417 Appointment Availability, Monitoring, and Reporting

We applaud the Administration for applying statistical methods and measurable and verifiable standards for regulating appointment availability, monitoring and reporting. We like the way the Administration is using a standard which includes an explanation of how sample sizes meet a 95% statistically significant confidence level including the calculations used to confirm the confidence level.  We encourage the Administration to keep these criteria and the reporting template.

As with ACOM 436, we encourage the Administration to require contractors to disclose on their websites, newsletters, and other member materials which standards they have not complied with and/or have requested exceptions from so that Members can take that information into consideration as they choose plans. This disclosure standard may need included in ACOM 404 for compliance purposes. The information should also be added to the AHCCCS enrollment websites.

Sincerely,

 

Will Humble, MPH

Executive Director,

Arizona Public Health Association

Arizona's 2018 Legislative Session in the Books

Well, Arizona’s legislative session ended last week, so you’re spared my impossibly long policy updates.  You can visit this PowerPoint to dive into the good things, bad things, and the missed opportunities this year.  It’s still a draft summary of the Session because the Governor hasn’t taken action on several bills (voluntary certification of community health workers, public health measures in schools, dental therapy, food truck licensing, and fresh produce in SNAP). BTW- Let me know if you see anything I've left out of the draft powerpoint so I can update it before my Webinar next week

I’ll be doing a Webinar about the legislative session on Thursday May 17 at noon in conjunction with the UA Center for Rural Health & the UA Telemedicine Program.  Visit the AZ Telemedicine Program’s Website to register.

 

FDA Finally Implementing ACA’s Menu Labeling Requirement

You might have noticed that more and more restaurants and fast food places are starting to put calorie and other nutrition information on their menus.  That’s not a coincidence or accident- they’re implementing the menu nutrition labeling requirements in the Affordable Care Act.  Section 4205 of the ACA requires restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie content information for standard menu items directly on the menu and menu boards.  Vending machine operators with 20 or more machines are also required to disclose calorie content for certain items. 

Nutrition clarity is a real opportunity for public health change.  Not only will the new labels give the public key information to help them make better decisions about what they buy for themselves and their families- it’ll give pause to restaurants before they label their menus- giving them an opportunity to change ingredients to lower calorie counts.  It may even spur a trend away from super-sizes and toward more appropriate and reasonable serving sizes.  With 32% of the calories consumed in the US tied to eating outside the home- this is an important opportunity. 

Anyway, the FDA announced this week that they’re finally implementing the requirements that were established by the ACA.  Another evidence-based policy intervention brought to you by the Affordable Care Act.

 

CMS Denies Kansas’ Request for 3-year Lifetime Medicaid Eligibility

This week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator denied Kansas’ request to impose a 3-year lifetime limits on Medicaid eligibility. 

Her decision bodes well for us in Arizona- at least when it comes to lifetime coverage limits (although CMS is poised to almost certainly approve AZ’s work/work training request).  Arizona law requires AHCCCS to annually ask CMS for permission to require work (or work training) and income reporting for “able bodied adults” and a 5-year lifetime limit on AHCCCS eligibility (with some exceptions).

A few months ago AHCCCS turned in their official waiver request asking permission to implement those requirements.  The AHCCCS Director recently postponed the negotiation process of the lifetime limit request to expedite approval of the work requirements.  See his letter here.  Word on the street is that AHCCCS expects approval of the work requirements in June.

 

Mid-year Federal Budget Cut Request

This week the White House submitted a special message to Congress requesting they rescind $15B bill in budget authority from the current fiscal year. The proposal includes unobligated balances from prior-year appropriations and reductions to budget authority for mandatory programs.

Below are selected programs proposed for rescission by the Administration that may impact public health programs. For more information, view the entire rescission proposal here.

  • Children’s Health Insurance Fund: The proposal would rescind $5B in amounts made available by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 to supplement the 2017 national allotments to states, including $3B in unobligated balances available on October 1, 2017. 

  • Child Enrollment Contingency Fund: The proposal would rescind $2B in amounts available for the CHIP Contingency Fund, of which there were $2.4B available. The Contingency Fund provides payments to states that experience funding shortfalls due to higher than expected enrollment. 

  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Innovation Center): The proposal would rescind $800M in amounts made available for FY11-19 for the Innovation Center, of which there were $3.5B available on October 2017. The Innovation Center was created to test innovative payment and service delivery models to reduce program expenditures under Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP while preserving or enhancing quality care.

 

Speak for Health: Fund Public Health in 2019

As Congress begins its work on the FY 2019 appropriations process, Speak for Health and tell our members of Congress  to reject the proposed cuts to important public health programs in the president's budget proposal and instead to prioritize public health by building upon the important increased investments in public health provided by Congress in FY 2018.

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Most of you know Dr. Bob England, who's been on the AZ public health scene for the last 30 years including 12 years as the Director of the Maricopa County Public Health Department.  You know that he's a terrific cartoonist.  But did you know he's an engaging travel writer?

Bob's been living for the last couple of months just outside of London.  He's been writing some terrifically 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.  Here’s Travelogue 3: Nutrition. Enjoy.

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If you haven’t yet become a member of AzPHA please consider joining our team!

Here’s information about our Individual & Organizational Memberships

Medicaid Network Adequacy: A Key to Access to Care

AHCCCS is rolling out new integrated care contracts on October 1, and most members will be receiving services for both acute and behavioral care from these managed care organizations.  One of the keys to making sure that members have access to a health care provider when they need it is for AHCCCS to make sure each managed care organization has an adequate network of contracted providers.  After all, having health insurance isn’t much good if there’s no place for you to get care in your area or if the doctors are booked and you can’t get an appointment.  That’s where “network adequacy” comes in.

AHCCCS sets their network adequacy standards in what’s called their “AHCCCS Contractors Operations Manuals”, or ACOMs for short.  From now through May 28, 2018 AHCCCS is accepting public comment on their proposed ACOM manuals for network expectations for the integrated care contracts that start on October 1.

Geographic Standards

One of the keys is to make sure that there are providers reasonably nearby Medicaid members.  ACOM 436- Minimum Network Requirements will set the expectations for geographic access to care. It’s pretty long as you’ll see if you click on the link.  But here are a couple examples of the key proposed standards that are out for public comment. 

For kids, they propose requiring their contracted managed care organizations to ensure that 90% of members live within 10 miles or 15 minutes of a primary care provider in Maricopa and Pima counties.  For all other counties, they’re proposing that 90% of members lives within 30 miles or 40 minutes of a primary care provider.  For kids dental in Maricopa & Pima counties, they’re proposing requiring their contractors to make sure that 90% of members live within 15 minutes or 10 miles of a provider.  For the other counties, they’re proposing that 90% of members live within 40 minutes or 30 miles of a provider.

The Manual also proposing a process for managed care organizations ask for an exemption from the standards based on outlined reasons and the criteria by which they’ll consider approving the exemptions.  Those of you that are well versed in these aspects of access to care can comment on the proposed standards and the exemption criteria through May 28 at this web link.

Appointment Wait Time Standards

Another Manual that’s out for public comment is about how long it takes to make an appointment to see various kinds of providers.  That one is called ACOM 417, Appointment Availability, Monitoring and Reporting.

The 417 Manual proposes that routine primary care appointments be set within 21 calendar days of the member’s request.  For more urgent appointments, the proposal is for “… as expeditiously as the member’s health condition requires but no later than 2 business days of request”.  For Specialty provider referrals the proposal is “… as expeditiously as the member’s health condition requires but no later than 3 business days from the request”.  For routine specialty care appointments it’s within 45 calendar days of referral.  For dental provider appointments it’s “… as expeditiously as the member’s health condition requires but no later than 3 business days of request, and for routine care appointments within 45 calendar days of request

They’re also proposing a process for managed care organizations ask for an exemption from the standards based on outlined criteria.  They also outline the criteria by which they’ll consider approving the exemptions.

Those of you that are well versed in these aspects of access to care can comment on the proposed standards and the exemption criteria through May 28 at this web link.  We’ll talk this over with our Public Health Policy Committee and turn in comments sometime in May.  Let me know if you want to get onto our Policy Committee Basecamp and I’ll sign you up.

 

FDA Pursuing E-Cigarette Interventions

Last week the FDA announced several interventions to better regulate e-cigarette makers.  It’s no secret that e-cigarettes have become wildly popular with kids.  E-cig makers have become increasingly crafty in attracting kids to use their products- which often have high nicotine levels.  Some of the new products look like a USB flash drive- making it easier for them to sneak into what are supposed to be tobacco product free-areas.  Many fall under the JUUL Brand but also “myblu” and “KandyPens”.

The strategies that FDA announced last week include: 1) an “undercover” investigation into retailers that are selling these JUUL products to kids and issuing warning letters and other enforcement actions; 2) raising concerns with eBay regarding their listing of JUUL products on their website; 3) contacting manufacturers like JUUL Labs and requiring them to submit like documents like their product marketing strategy, research on the health, toxicological, and behavioral or physiologic effects of the products; and 4) enforcement actions focused on companies that are marketing products in ways that are misleading to kids.

Time will tell whether these strategies make a difference- but one thing is clear- we’ll continue to be in a long-term battle with companies that will continue to creatively find new ways to addict America’s youth to their nicotine products.

 

Legislative Session Update

There wasn’t much action on the public health bills we’re working on and tracking last week. Unless you’ve been out of town or on vacation you know that pretty much all last week was absorbed with the debate about weather and how to fund increases for K-12 schools.  There were huge peaceful marches on the Capitol on both Thursday and Friday.  The Legislature adjourned early last week.

The Governor has proposed increasing teacher salaries by 20% by the year 2020. The teachers are looking for a more robust commitment for all other school staff and a dedicated revenue stream to support the investment.  The Governor proposes paying for the increase in several ways- in part by increasing the assessment on hospitals to help pay for Medicaid, and in part by decreasing planned funding for things like provider increases for programs that serve people with disabilities (because of the increase in the minimum wage).  The plan assumes state revenue will increase by 4.8% per year over the next 3 years (over the last 3 years it’s increased by between 3 and 4% per year). 

Late last Friday afternoon the Governor issued a media release stating that an agreement had been reached with the legislature on a way to fund the 20% by 2020 idea, but the media release didn’t explain how it would be paid for.  Here’s the latest information that I have- but of course this could change when the actual proposal comes out later this week. Robert Robb from the Republic had the most digestible explanation of the plan that I’ve been able to find.

The phased-in cost of the teacher pay increase is $580M. The phased-in school-assistance portion is $370M (a total of $950M).  Maintaining all other state programs over that period is about $850M and that’s without any population increase or inflation.  At 4.8% revenue growth per year (the past 3-year average is between 3 and 4%) there’d be a $150M deficit in 2020 even if there were no increases in spending anywhere else in state government.  If revenue growth were less than 4.8%, there’d be a bigger deficit.  If revenue increases average more than 4.8% things might be OK.  If there’s a recession, we’d be in big trouble. 

You can see how important it is to get the revenue stream right.  If revenues and expenses are unbalanced, the increases for schools and teachers will absorb all other funds and there won’t be anything available to address public health or social determinant priorities and might even force reductions in other state services like health care and public health. 

 

Medicaid Changes Partially Support the Teacher Salary Proposal

There are a couple of “efficiency items” that the Governor identified within our Medicaid program that will partially pay for some of the teacher salary increase.  One relates to the assessment on hospitals that pays the state portion of the Medicaid expansion deal that was reached a few years ago.  The other is a proposed change to eliminate something called “prior quarter coverage”.

Hospital Assessment

One item listed as an “efficiency savings” to help pay for the teacher salary proposal increase the hospital assessment, which pays for Medicaid expansion, by $35 to $39M.  The Governor has proposed moving behavioral health services for childless adults to the same funding stream as acute care (tobacco taxes and the hospital assessment pay for acute care coverage for childless adults and those covered through Medicaid expansion).  The assessment on  hospitals would increase by 12% from $287 million to $326M.

Prior Quarter Coverage

Back on January 1, 2014 AHCCCS began covering people that qualify for Medicaid for the 3 months prior to their eligibility date.  So, if a person applying for AHCCCS qualifies during any portion of three months immediately preceding the month in which the member applied for AHCCCS coverage, they’ll reimburse providers for covered services.  They’ve submitted a waiver request to CMS to stop this practice.  In FY 2017 they spent a total of about $21M for prior quarter coverage- so stopping the practice would save about $11 - $12M in state funds. This waiver is in the hands of CMS right now.

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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 (needs Senate floor vote)

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 1389  HIV; needs assessment; prevention signed by the Governor last week.

SB 1394 Abortion reporting (Signed by Governor)

SCR 1005 Voter Initiative Sunset (striker in the House)

 

Public Health-related bills signed so far:

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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Federal Work Requirement Executive Order

Last week the President issued an Executive Order to the US Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Housing charging them with reviewing the eligibility regulations for all of their public assistance programs (e.g. Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, WIC, Section 8 Housing etc.) and check to see whether they have work requirements.  

If they don’t currently have work requirements, the Order charges them with determining whether the current law would allow them to do so.  Then, in 90 days, they’ll need to turn in a list of policy recommendations to “strengthen existing work requirements for work-capable people and introduce new work requirements”. The Order is of course more complex than I’ve described here- but you can read the whole thing here.

BTW: we expect AHCCCS' directed waiver that will require many (about 200,000) AZ Medicaid members to meet their work/school/community engagement requirements starting 10/1 to be approved any day now.

 

Phoenix Complete Streets

If you live or work in Phoenix, click here to send an email to the City Council members asking them to adopt and implement the Complete Streets Design Guidelines. Please be sure to send your email before the council meeting this Wednesday, April 18, and feel free to share this call to action with Phoenix friends. 

The Complete Streets Advisory Board recommended these design guidelines to the Council in 2015, but weren’t given the opportunity to vote and adopt them. It is now more than two years later, and we need your help to urge them to adopt the guidelines and move forward in protecting everyone who walks, bikes, uses public transportation, and drives on our streets. Thank you to Pinnacle Prevention for the heads up about this.

Send an email with one click!

 

Legislative Session Update

A Bill Called SB 1519 protective orders; schools; appropriations was proposed late last week by Senator Smith. It contains many of the things outlined by the Governor a few weeks ago related to firearms, schools and protection orders. The 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. The process is complicated and outside my area of expertise, so I’m trying to learn more about the proposal.  There are also measures that would require AHCCCS to develop and post suicide prevention training.  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. Here’s a link to the introduced version of the bill.  You might need to sit down with somebody with a legal background if you really want to understand it. 

Hardly any organizations or persons are signed up either for or against the bill so far, and no hearing has yet been set in the Senate (It’s assigned to the Commerce and Public Safety Committee).  There’s no mirror bill in the House at their point.  Stay tuned.

SB 1445 AHCCCS Dental care, pregnant women is in the home stretch.  It’s cleared the full Senate but still needs a House Rules hearing and a floor vote. It will require some 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 the state is estimated to be a little less than $268K.  However, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee believes that it could have secondary costs. Their thinking goes like this: some pregnant Medicaid enrollees that are not yet receiving prenatal care will discover that there is an oral health benefit and that the hygienist or dentist would inform their health plan of their pregnancy. These women would then switch their eligibility category to one with a higher state match rate (and presumably begin receiving prenatal care- which if it happened would be a good thing).  

Their analysis assumes that 25% of the estimated 5,000 pregnant women currently enrolled in the expansion population will switch their eligibility to the pregnant category generating a $3.7M refinancing cost because of the dental benefit.  It just seems to me that it’s unlikely that women that aren’t getting prenatal care from an OBGYN will present to a dentist or hygienist for a cleaning.  I can see it if they have a toothache, but that would likely be from the existing emergency dental benefit- not this new proposed preventative oral health benefit.  We’ll see what happens during the upcoming budget process.

HB 2324 Community health workers; voluntary certification is in the home-stretch.  It succeeded in the Senate’s Committee of the Whole (a voice vote) but wasn’t brought up for a final vote in the Senate as we had hoped (called 3rd Read) last week.  We hope to get on the Senate 3rd Read (final floor vote) calendar this week.

HB 2389 Syringe access programs; authorization 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 2228 Annual waiver, applicability was passed by the Senate and transmitted to the Governor.  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.

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.

_______

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 (Sent to Governor)

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

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

HB 2389 Syringe access programs; authorization (Effectively dead)

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

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

SB 1083 Schools; recess periods (Passed and Signed)

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 so far:

HB 2038 Drug overdose review teams; records was passed and signed last week.  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 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 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.

____

 

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

Stalled in Senate- now SB1290 in House

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 got a unanimous pass recommendation from the House Health Committee last Thursday- so was back in business but is now being held in House Rules. 

 

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

Transmitted to 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

Ready for Senate Floor Vote

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. Ready for a final Senate floor vote.

 

HB 2324 Community health workers; voluntary certification

Still needs Senate 3rd Read (Passed COW)

This succeeded in the Senate’s Committee of the Whole (a voice vote) but wasn’t brought up for a final vote in the Senate as we had hoped (called 3rd Read).  To get through COW, we supported an amendment to “grandfather” current CHWs who’ve worked for 6 months over 3 years as a CHW & to prohibit the state and subdivisions from offering preferential public contracts for voluntarily certified CHWs. We hope to get on the Senate 3rd Read calendar this week.

 

HB 2389  Syringe access programs; authorization

Effectively Dead

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. The bill died in a conference committee.

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, is now in the House awaiting a final vote.  

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

Stalled in House now HB 2235

This bill failed to get a Pass recommendation from the House Health Committee last week (5-4) and is now HB 2235 as a striker.  It 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. This has been a somewhat controversial bill as there are stakeholders of both sides that are quite passionate about their position on this Bill.  

 

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, (Monday April 9) 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.

____________

 

Thanks to all of you that planned, sponsored, exhibited, presented, or attended our conference last week.  We still need to input the data from the evaluations- but we think it was a real success!

 

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, October 3, 2018 for our fall conference and annual members meeting.  Our topic will be about engaging public and behavioral health to improve outcomes.  It'll also commemorate our 90th anniversary!

 

 

AzPHA Public Health Policy Update: March 19, 2018

AHCCCS Update: Coding the Social Determinants of Health

ICD-10 diagnosis codes that relate to the Social Determinants of Health can be a valuable source of information to improve health outcomes.  Social Determinants of Health codes can identify the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age like education, employment, physical environment, socioeconomic status and social support networks- data that can provide managed care organizations information with which to improve outcomes and reduce costs.

AHCCCS is recommending that providers routinely screen for and document the presence of social determinants (as appropriate within their scope of practice) and to document them in claims data. AHCCCS will begin to monitor claims for the presence of these codes after April 1, 2018. You can review the Social Determinant ICD-10 Codes on the AHCCCS website.

 

FDA Proposes Rulemaking to Reduce Nicotine Levels in Tobacco Products

The FDA issued an “advance notice of proposed rulemaking” last week to get input for them to develop new standards for the maximum nicotine level in cigarettes. They say they’re interested in reducing the level of nicotine in cigarettes to make them “minimally addictive or nonaddictive”.  

Those of you that are familiar with the evidence base in this area should take this opportunity to provide input to the FDA. It has the potential to be a big intervention in our decades long battle public health battle with tobacco.  Electronic comments can be submitted through June 14 at https://www.regulations.gov

 

AzPHA Comments on ADHS School Vaccination Rulemaking

The ADHS has an administrative rulemaking open to adjust their school and child care vaccine requirements. Our public health policy committee turned in a response last week (it had a short comment period- just a week).  You can see our comments on the proposed rules on our AzPHA Blog). 

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Legislative Session Update 

Committee Highlights Last Week

HB 2324 Community health workers; voluntary certification had another terrific week. The bill got a Do Pass recommendation from the Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee last week (7-0-1).  As you’ll recall, the week before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee gave it a Do Pass recommendation. We’re getting a lot closer to the finish line. Our next hurdle will be the Senate Rules Committee followed by a floor vote in the Senate.  Because there are some changes in the language since it passed the House, it’ll need to go back to accommodate those differences after that. But it is looking good!  

This Bill is a top priority for us. It asks the ADHS with developing a voluntary certification program for community health workers. The rulemaking would include certification standards including qualifications, core competencies, and continuing education requirements.

HB 2197 Health professions, workforce data also had a good week, getting a pass recommendation from the Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee last week.  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 2228 Annual waiver, applicability received a pass recommendation from the Senate HHS Committee last week.  This bill 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, but this would place the exemption into statute.

HB 2389  Syringe access programs; authorization was substantially amended in the Senate Government Committee last week (not in a good way).  The amended bill passed the committee, but its amended form will be much less helpful as a public health intervention. The original bill essentially would have decriminalized needle exchange programs. The amendment makes it such that needle exchange would only be decriminalized when and where the ADHS declares a public health emergency because of the rapid spread of an infectious disease. Hopefully we can get the amendment removed.  If we can’t and it passes and is signed as amended it’ll have little public health utility.

SB 1245 Snap Benefit Match earned a pass recommendation from the House Health Committee last week.  Its next stop is the House Appropriation Committees.  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 1377 Dental therapy, licensure, regulation failed to get a pass recommendation from the House Health Committee last week (5-4).  It 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. This has been a somewhat controversial bill as there are stakeholders of both sides that are quite passionate about their position on this Bill. 

SB 1420 medical marijuana; inspection; testing; appropriation received a pass recommendation by the House Military, Veterans & Regulatory Affairs Committee last week. This bill would require the ADHS to set up testing standards for medical marijuana and begin enforcing the standards beginning in 2019.

SB 1261 Texting while driving has been languishing for the last few weeks, as 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, is now in the House awaiting a final vote.  If anybody has influence with Speaker Mesnard now would be a great time to contact him and ask him to bring it to the floor.

______ 

Committee Highlights this Week

Monday, March 19th, Senate Commerce & Public Safety 2 pm, SHR 1

HB 2064:  medical marijuana; packaging; labeling

 

Wednesday, March 21st, House Appropriations 9 am, HHR1

SB 1245:  appropriation; SNAP; benefit match; produce

SB 1420:  medical marijuana; inspection; testing; appropriation

 

Thursday, March 22nd, House Health 9am, HHR 4

SB 1445:  AHCCCS; dental care; pregnant women

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The following public health related bills passed their committee of origin and have gone over to the other chamber. Some have been assigned to committees in the new chamber, but some haven't yet.  Where available, I've listed the committee assignments in the detail section below.  We’re keeping track of the hearing dates and times. 

HB 2038 Drug overdose review teams; records                

HB 2071 Rear-facing car seats

HB 2084 Indoor tanning; minors; restricted use      

HB 2127 Children's health insurance program

HB 2208 Prohibition, photo enforcement (we’re against this one)

HB 2228 Annual waiver, applicability (tribes)

HB 2323 Schools; inhalers; contracted nurses

HB 2324 Community health workers; voluntary certification

HB 2389 Syringe access programs; authorization

SB 1022 ADHS; homemade food products            

SB 1083 Schools; recess periods

SB 1445 AHCCCS Dental care, pregnant women

SB 1377 Dental therapy, licensure, regulation

SB 1394 Abortion reporting 

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Remember to stay engaged and voice your opinion via the www.azleg.gov commenting system.  Click the following links for: Request to Speak account registration form; a Step-by-step use of the Request to Speak platform; and to Locate your Elected Officials

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House Bills

HB 2038 Drug overdose review teams; records                

Passed the House 57-0-2

Assigned to Senate Health and Human Services Committee

Under this proposed Bill, law enforcement agencies would 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.  We’re signed up in support of this one of course.

 

HB 2071 Rear-facing car seats         

Passed House 33-25-1

Assigned to Senate HHS & Commerce and Public Safety Committees 

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.  Dual assigned in the Senate, and not yet scheduled in either of the Senate committees.

 

HB 2084 Indoor tanning; minors; restricted use

Passed House 45 - 15

Assigned to Senate HHS and Commerce & Public Safety Committees

Tanning facility operators would be prohibited from allowing a person under 18 years of age to use a "tanning device". Tanning facilities couldn’t advertise or distribute materials that claim that using a tanning device is free from risk or will result in medical or health benefits. We’ve signed on in support of this of course. Bummer that it's dual assigned in the Senate.

 

HB 2127 Children's health insurance program

Passed House 46-12-1

Assigned to HHS & Appropriations Committees

This removes 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

Passed House 60 – 0

Assigned to HHS and Commerce & Public Safety Committees

This bill had a good week, getting a Do Pass recommendation from the Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee last week.  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

Passed the House 31-27-1

Assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee

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 last week and is moving on to the Senate Transportation Committee- not on their agenda yet.

 

HB 2228 Annual waiver, applicability

Passed the House 58-0-1

Passed in the Senate HHS Committee

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

Passed House 58 – 0 - 1

Assigned to Senate Education Committee

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

Passed House 56 – 1 - 3

Assigned to HHS and Commerce & Public Safety Committees

This Bill had another terrific week. The Bill got a Do Pass recommendation from the Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee last week (7-0-1).  As you’ll recall, the week before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee gave it a Do Pass recommendation. We’re getting a lot closer to the finish line. Our next hurdle will be the Senate Rules Committee followed by a floor vote in the Senate.  Because there are some changes in the language since it passed the House, it’ll need to go back to accommodate those differences after that.  But it is looking good!  

This Bill is a top priority for us. It asks the ADHS with developing a voluntary certification program for community health workers. The rulemaking would include certification standards including qualifications, core competencies, and continuing education requirements.

 

HB 2389  Syringe access programs; authorization

Passed House 56 – 0 - 4

Assigned to the Senate Government Committee

This Bill was substantially amended in the Senate Government Committee last week.  The bill (as amended) passed the committee, but in its amended form will be much less helpful as a public health intervention.  The original bill essentially would have decriminalized needle exchange programs.  The amendment makes it such that needle exchange would only be decriminalized when and where the ADHS declares a public health emergency because of the rapid spread of infectious diseases. Hopefully we can get the amendment removed.  If we can’t and it passes and is signed as amended it’ll have very little public health utility.

 

Senate Bills

SB 1022    DHS; homemade food products            

Passed Senate 30-0

Assigned to House Health Committee

ADHS would 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. Being heard in the House Health Committee this week (Thursday).  Should have no problems at all.

 

SB 1083    Schools; recess periods

Passed Senate 26-3-1

Assigned to and Passed House Education Committee 9-0 on Monday

District and charter schools would be required to provide at least 2 recess periods during the school day for pupils in grades K-5 if this passes. We’ve signed in support of this bill because there is good evidence that opportunities for physical activity at school are associated with improved health, behavior, and academic achievement of students.  Here is a good evidence review from the CDC entitled The Association Between School-based Physical Activity and Academic Performance. Great couple of weeks for this bill. Hopefully there’s a floor vote on this shortly.

 

SB 1245 Snap Benefit Match

Passed Senate 25 - 5

Assigned to House Health and Appropriation Committees

This Bill earned a Do Pass recommendation from the House Health Committee last week.  Its next stop is the House Appropriation Committees.  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.  

This Bill would appropriate $400K to ADES to develop the infrastructure for a produce incentive program within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) 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.  It has passed the full Senate and will be heard this Thursday at 9 am in House Health.  

 

SB 1261 Texting while driving

Passed Transportation Committee- Ready for a Senate Floor Vote

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.  It has passed its committees and is ready for a floor vote, which hasn’t happened yet.  Not a good sign.

 

SB 1377 Dental therapy, licensure, regulation

Passed Senate 22 – 8

Assigned to House Health Committee

This bill failed to get a Pass recommendation from the House Health Committee last week (5-4).  It 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. This has been a somewhat controversial bill as there are stakeholders of both sides that are quite passionate about their position on this Bill.   Being heard this week (Thursday at 9 am) in the House Health Committee.

 

SB 1394 Abortion reporting

Passed Senate 17 - 13

Assigned to the Judiciary and Federalism, Property Rights & Public Policy Committees

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.).  The bill was given a Do Pass recommendation last week by the House Judiciary & Public Safety Committee- although it was amended slightly by removing the requirement that physicians ask and report specifically why the woman is asking for the procedure.

 

SB 1420 Medical marijuana; inspection; testing; appropriation

Passed Senate 27 – 3

Assigned to House Military, Veteran and Regulatory Affairs Committee

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

Passed Senate 27 - 3

Assigned to House Health & Appropriations Committees

Last week SB 1445 AHCCCS Dental care, pregnant women was passed by the Senate (27 – 3).  This Bill would provide oral health coverage for pregnant Medicaid members. It has moved on to the House and is assigned to the House Health Committee (which gave as similar bill a pass recommendation last year).  Because it involves money its also assigned to the House Appropriations Committee.  The benefit would be limited to $1000/year.  Lots of good public health reasons to support this one. 

This is a priority Bill for AzPHA.  It would provide oral health coverage for pregnant Medicaid members.  The benefit would be limited to $1000 and could be used for other than emergency dental procedures (beginning October 1, 2017 all adult Medicaid members became eligible for up to $1000 in emergency dental services per year).  Lots of good public health reasons to support this one. 

 

SB 1470  Sunrise process; health professions

Passed Senate 21 - 9

Assigned to House Government Committee

To be honest- this bill has been flying under the radar at least with me.  If it passes and is signed it’d make huge changes to the health professions scope of practice system we use today. The current sunrise process is a collaborative, inclusive process that allows time for consideration and review of the complicated health care delivery proposals.  The current process requires a Committee of Reference hearing, which allows a consideration of a proposed scope change and its potential patient safety and care implications. 

SB 1470 would change the scope of practice system so that all a profession needs to do is prepare a written sunrise report right before the regular legislative session. It would allow the legislative standing committees (rather than Committees of Reference) to consider a sunrise proposal. During legislative session, long agendas and the fast pace limits the time to consider serious issues impacted by changes in scope of practice, including prescribing, complex health care procedures, complicated review, and reflection on curriculum, training and education.

We had a Public Health Policy Committee call last week and recommended to our Board that we take a position opposing the bill- which we did last week.  I testified that, rather than eliminating the pre-session hearings for scope of practice changes that they consider modifying the bill so that requests for new Scope changes go to the ADHS Director for a recommendation back to the Legislature.  

The Bill passed the House Government Committee last week.  There was reportedly a stakeholder meeting on the bill last week.  We’ll stay tuned.

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Public Health Bills that Failed to Thrive

HB 2064 Medical marijuana; packaging; labeling              

Dead for now

This Bill proposes that medical marijuana dispensaries be prohibited from selling a marijuana product that’s packaged or labeled in a manner that’s "attractive to minors". Due to voter protection, this legislation requires the affirmative vote of at least 3/4 of the members of each house of the Legislature for passage.  Dead for now.

HB 2109 Tobacco possession; sale; age; signage                

Sadly, dead for now

This Bill would prohibit furnishing a tobacco product to a person who is under 21 years of age. The definition of "tobacco product" is expanded to include "electronic smoking devices". We’ve signed up in support. It received a Do Pass recommendation from the House Health Committee three weeks ago but the Commerce chair hasn’t put it on the agenda, so it’s effectively dead for now. Kudos to Rep. Boyer for sponsoring this.

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AzPHA Member Kelli Donley Publishes Again

COUNTING COUP is the latest novel by AzPHA member Kelli Donley, who works in public health in Phoenix. The book is about the Phoenix Indian School, and like Donley's other novels, has a strong public health theme. Here’s a short description of her book, which you can order from Amazon:

Happily consumed with her academic career, Professor Avery Wainwright never planned on becoming sole guardian of her octogenarian Aunt Birdie. Forced to move Birdie—and her failing memory—into her tiny apartment, Avery’s precariously balanced life loses its footing. 

Unearthed in the chaos is a stack of sixty-year-old letters. Written in 1951, the letters tell of a year Avery’s grandmother, Alma Jean, spent teaching in the Indian school system, in the high desert town of Winslow, Arizona. The letters are addressed to Birdie, who was teaching at the Phoenix Indian School. The ghostly yet familiar voices in the letters tell of a dark time in her grandmother’s life, a time no one has ever spoken of. 

Torn between caring for the old woman who cannot remember, and her very different memories of a grandmother no longer alive to explain, Avery searches for answers. But the scandal and loss she finds, the revelations about abuses, atrocities, and cover-ups at the Indian schools, threaten far more than she’s bargained for. 

About the author: 

Kelli Donley is a native Arizonan. She is the author of three novels, Under the Same Moon, Basket Baby and Counting Coup. Inspiration for this novel was found hearing colleagues’ stories about childhoods spent at the Phoenix Indian School. Kelli lives with her husband Jason, children and small ark of animals in Mesa, Arizona. She works in public health, and blogs at: www.africankelli.com.

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AzPHA Public Health Policy Update: February 21, 2018

Good Article about Community Health Workers from Rep. Carter

Representative Heather Carter wrote a very informative opinion piece in

the Capitol Times about how community health workers reduce healthcare costs and improve outcomes. Check it out!

 

AHCCCS Contract Award Schedule

Seven health plan contractors submitted bids to provide integrated physical and behavioral health services to the majority of AHCCCS members a few weeks ago. Awards will be announced by March 8 and implementation will begin October 1. Here’s the contract integration timeline.

 

Bidders include:

Banner – University Family Care Plan

Care1st Health Plan Arizona, Inc.

Health Choice Arizona, Inc. (Steward Health Choice Arizona)

Health Net Access, Inc.

Magellan Complete Care of Arizona, Inc.

Mercy Care

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan

 

Prior Quarter Coverage Waiver Open for Public Comments

AHCCCS is proposing a change in benefits for Medicaid members that would limit retroactive coverage to the start of the month of the person’s application.  Currently benefits are retroactive for the 3 months prior to the application.  AHCCCS is asking for comments from members, families, stakeholders and the public on the proposed change. Comments can be submitted by email to publicinput@azahcccs.gov.

Here’s the draft Prior Quarter Coverage Amendment.

 

The CDC has Recently posted Immunization Schedules online.

For Healthcare Professionals:

Immunization Schedules for Children & Adolescents

Immunization Schedules for Adults

 

For Everyone: Easy-to-Read Schedules

Children Birth through 6 years old

Pre-teens and Teens

Adults

 

Legislative Session Update

The following bills passed their house of origin and will be going over to the other chamber. Hearings in the other chamber will begin next week.

HB 2038 Drug overdose review teams; records                

HB 2071 Rear-facing car seats         

HB 2127 Children's health insurance program

HB 2208 Prohibition, photo enforcement (we’re against this one)

HB 2228 Annual waiver, applicability (tribes)

SB 1022 ADHS; homemade food products            

SB 1083 Schools; recess periods

 

Priorities for this Week

Last week our top priority was to get SB 1445 AHCCCS Dental care, pregnant women and SB 1245 Snap Benefit Match through the Senate Health and Human Services and Appropriations committees.  Fortunately, both received pass recommendations. Both still need to be heard by the Senate Rules Committee before going to the Senate floor.

HB 2324 Community health workers; voluntary certification passed through the House Rules Committee and is now ready for a floor vote.  HB 2389  Syringe access programs; authorization also received a pass recommendation from the House Health and the Rules Committees and is also ready for a floor vote.

So far we have one priority up for next week:

 

House Education Committee: Monday 2/26 2pm (HHR1)

SB 1083    Schools; recess periods

Under this Bill, district and charter schools would be required to provide at least 2 recess periods during the school day for pupils in grades K-5.  We’ve signed in support of this bill because there is good evidence that opportunities for physical activity at school are associated with improved health, behavior, and academic achievement of students.  Here is a good evidence review from the CDC entitled The Association Between School-based Physical Activity and Academic Performance.

 

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Remember to stay engaged and voice your opinion via the www.azleg.gov commenting system.  Click the following links for: Request to Speak account registration form; a Step-by-step use of the Request to Speak platform; and to Locate your Elected Officials

Below are the bills that we’re tracking and advocating for or against.  They’re in order of Bill number.  I included a colored comment to show where the bill is in the process.

 

House Bills

HB 2038 Drug overdose review teams; records                

Passed the House 57-0-2 – Going to Senate

Under this proposed Bill, law enforcement agencies would 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.  We’re signed up in support of this one.

 

HB 2064 Medical marijuana; packaging; labeling              

Ready for a Floor Vote

This Bill proposes that medical marijuana dispensaries be prohibited from selling a marijuana product that’s packaged or labeled in a manner that’s "attractive to minors". Due to voter protection, this legislation requires the affirmative vote of at least 3/4 of the members of each house of the Legislature for passage.  We’re supporting this bill. It’s ready for a floor vote in the House.

 

HB 2071 Rear-facing car seats         

Passed House 33-25-1 – Going to 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.  This Bill cleared the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee last Wednesday.

 

HB 2084 Indoor tanning; minors; restricted use

Passed House Health, Waiting for Rules Committee

Under this proposal, tanning facility operators would be prohibited from allowing a person under 18 years of age to use a "tanning device". Tanning facilities are prohibited from advertising or distributing promotional materials that claim that using a tanning device is free from risk or will result in medical or health benefits. We’ve signed on in support of this. It received a Do Pass recommendation from the House Health Committee last week but failed to get on the Rules Committee agenda- so this is likely dead.

 

HB 2109 Tobacco possession; sale; age; signage                

Waiting on a Hearing in Commerce Committee

This Bill would prohibit furnishing a tobacco product to a person who is under 21 years of age. The definition of "tobacco product" is expanded to include "electronic smoking devices". We’ve signed up in support. It received a Do Pass recommendation from the House Health Committee three weeks ago but the Commerce chair hasn’t put it on the agenda, so it’s effectively dead.

 

HB 2127 Children's health insurance program

Passed House 46-12-1 – Going to the Senate

This Bill removes 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 a Floor Vote in the House

This Bill 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.  This bill passed all of its committees and is ready for a floor vote.

 

HB 2208 Prohibition, photo enforcement

Passed the House 31-27-1 – Going to the Senate

This Bill 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 last week and is moving on to the Senate.

 

HB 2228 Annual waiver, applicability

Passed the House 58-0-1 – Going to the Senate

This Bill 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 2324 Community health workers; voluntary certification

Ready for a Floor Vote in the House

This Bill is a top priority for us. It would charge the ADHS with developing a voluntary certification program for community health workers.  The Department rulemaking would include certification standards including qualifications, core competencies, and continuing education requirements. We’ve signed up in support of this bill.  It received a Do Pass recommendation from the House Health Committee two weeks ago and the Rules Committee this week. It’s ready for a floor vote.

 

This would be a very good week to reach out to your State Representatives and Senator and let them know you support this measure as it will go to a Floor vote soon.  You can find their contact information at www.azleg.gov.

 

Senate Bills

SB 1022    DHS; homemade food products            

Passed Senate 30-0 – Going to the House

Under this Bill, ADHS would 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

Passed Senate 26-3-1 – Going to the House

Under this Bill, district and charter schools would be required to provide at least 2 recess periods during the school day for pupils in grades K-5.  We’ve signed in support of this bill because there is good evidence that opportunities for physical activity at school are associated with improved health, behavior, and academic achievement of students.  Here is a good evidence review from the CDC entitled The Association Between School-based Physical Activity and Academic Performance.

 

SB 1245 Snap Benefit Match

Ready for a Floor Vote in the Senate

This Bill would appropriate $400K to ADES to develop the infrastructure for a produce incentive program within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) 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.  It passed the Health and Human Services Committee and the Appropriations Committee. We’ve signed up in support of this Bill. 

 

SB 1261 Texting while driving

Passed Transportation Committee- Ready for a Floor Vote

This bill was introduced last week and 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.  It has passed its committees and is ready for a floor vote.

 

SB 1377 Dental therapy, licensure, regulation

Passed HHS, Education & Rules Committee – Ready for a Floor Vote

This Bill was introduced last week and would 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. This has been a somewhat controversial bill as there are stakeholders of both sides that are quite passionate about their position on this Bill. 

 

SB 1394 Abortion reporting

Ready for a Floor Vote

This Bill 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.).  It has passed its committees.

 

SB 1420 medical marijuana; inspection; testing; appropriation

Passed Governance & Rules Committees – Ready for a Floor Vote

This Bill 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 received a Do Pass recommendation from the Senate Government Committee last week.

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