5 Things Arizona: Sen. Navarette, Ballot initiative, “Don Quixote”

With temperatures in Phoenix set to hit 112F this weekend, it doesn’t feel like summer is almost over. The city hit 115F just a few weeks ago on August 5th, the high hit twice this summer (second time on July 15).

The heat gives you a good opportunity to read some of our coverage of Arizona health careand health policy at State of Reform, where we’ve authored over 600 independent stories in 2019 across the nine states we cover.


With help from Emily Viles

1. Q&A with Senator Tony Navarrete

Senator Navarrete represents Arizona’s 30th Senate District. He serves on the Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Higher Education and Workforce Development Committees. Outside of the legislature, the Senator serves as the Deputy Director of Promise Arizona, a nonprofit community-based organization.

In this Q&A, Senator Navarrete discusses the health care challenges specific to his district, as well as legislative priorities moving forward. “In addition to the asthma, 5 of the top 10 zip codes in Maricopa county for the highest rates of STIs and HIV also reside in the district. Because we have a huge immigrant and refugee community, access to affordable care is very important in this community.”

2. Proposed health care ballot measure for 2020

new ballot measure filed this week seeks to codify a number of consumer protections into law. It would prohibit surprise billing, ban exclusion based on pre-existing conditions, and require hospitals meet standards related to hospital-acquired infections. Notably, it would also increase non-managerial salaries by at least 22% over four years.

Healthcare Rising Arizona” is a group backed by SEIU-UHW, a 95,000 member union of hospital employees based in Los Angeles.  They argue this initiative is a continuation of the work they’ve been doing in Arizona on equity and wages.  Ann-Marie Alameddin, CEO of AzHHA, says this is really about building leverage for the union in labor negotiations with hospitals.

3. “Don Quixote” goes to Washington DC

National Democratic figures are laying the ground work for health reform policy in a new administration, hoping that the 2020 election will swing their way. One of the quieter but perhaps more influential players in this discussion is former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. He has been steadily convening key federal policy advocates, both in public and privately, relying on some of the figures that helped land the $1.9bn Medicaid waiver funds in 2012 as part of his CCO transformation there.

I spent a few days with Gov. Kitzhaber on a recent trip to DC as he was trying to focus the opinion of DC insiders away from a solution, and towards a better understanding of the problem. “Medicare for All is really a financing mechanism. And, if we don’t reform the underlying delivery system, the way we finance it won’t get at the root problems of quality in health care.”

4.  Video: Mike Rosenfeld, Vatica Health

Mike Rosenfeld is the VP of Business Development at Vatica Health. Vatica supports providers as they move to value-based payment methodologies through a mix if technology and mid-level support.  Rosenfield joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss creating a support system for providers.

“At this point we are focused on how to better help payers better engage their providers. We are deploying nurses into the field to be an extension of the provider’s or PCP’s office in order to really create that support system that doesn’t exist. Right now there is really a hole in the system, and we are really focused on how to better engage them and how to better engage them in their work flow.”


5.  Federal dollars close the gap on per-person public health spending

A recent study conducted by the University of Minnesota found Arizona ranks in the bottom three states for per-person public health care spending. Arizona spends $9 a person on state public health funding. Data shows that the Great Recession sharply cut per-person health care spending in the state.

The state is still making progress towards increasing public health funding, despite currently low levels. Arizona drawns down federal funding which raises the average dollar amount spent per person to be more in line with the national average.