5 Things Arizona: Agency budget asks, Pre-filed bills, Ken Meyer

Good news? That weight I lost earlier this year…  well, I found it again this holiday season. Here’s to hoping all of your holiday cheer was met in-kind and that your new year’s resolutions last past January…!

Don’t mind my post-holiday curmudgeoness…  Here are 5 Things We’re Watching in Arizona health care and health policy for December, 2019!



With help from Emily Boerger


1. What the 5th Circuit decision means

The news that the 5th Circuit struck down the individual mandate mostly dodged a more nuanced reporting of the decision. As in I’m not entirely sure most coverage was by reporters that read the decision…  So, I detailed four things I think are worth noting in my post last week. Here are a couple of thoughts that mainstream reporting might not share.

First, this isn’t a broad decision. It’s a careful one, pointing to a more conservative approach to jurisprudence than to politics. It creates one interesting question for the Supreme Court, on when is a tax a tax. But, overall, I think it sets up more modest questions for the Supreme Court, which create an opportunity to strongly re-affirm the court’s precedent in NFIB (2012) that upholds the constitutionality of the ACA. It may be an unintended consequence of the legal strategy by the “Red States” that brought the case.


2. New bill would require providers to disclose religious care restrictions

H.B. 2068, or the Patient’s Right to Know Act was pre-filed last week by Representatives Pamela HannleyIsela Blanc, and Charlene Fernandez. The bill would require providers that do not provide certain services based on their religious beliefs to produce a list of those services to patients before initiating treatment, and would require group health plans to inform their enrollees of all providers within their network who uphold religious care restrictions.

“This is a buyer beware issue. I believe that people should know upfront if healthcare providers or institutions have any deeply held religious beliefs that would preclude them for offering any legal drugs or services that are within their scope of practice. For example, if a woman has an emergency situation with a pregnancy, she should know upfront if she will be offered all medical options available to treat her condition or only the options that the provider or institution deem appropriate,” said Rep. Hannley.

3. Department requests teed up for gov’s budget

Governor Ducey’s budget proposal isn’t expected until January, but the priorities and funding issues included in state agency budget requests offer a glimpse into what we might see when his executive budget is released. In this piece, Senior Reporter Emily Boerger breaks down the FY 2021 budget request packages for the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS).

AHCCCS is requesting $208 million in additional General Funds compared to FY 2020 and has 19 decision packages for consideration, covering a broad range of issues. ADHS’s budget proposal requests a $2.93 million reduction in appropriated funds, but highlights 4 priority areas that require additional funding.


4.  Video: Ken Meyer, Beacon Health Options

Ken Meyer is the SVP, CFO, West Region at Beacon Health Options. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss Beacon’s work in addressing the opioid crisis. Meyer says the behavioral health services company is focused on shifting away from some of the historical trends of care for opioid and substance use disorders.

“[Our focus has been on] building a really robust provider network and creating value-based payment type arrangements with providers to really drive down health care costs. And really to get away from a focus on the historical trend of higher levels of care, more volume-based types of treatment, into looking at more outcomes-based type solutions to the treatment plans to really get providers focusing on what really is helping members live and sustain lives on their own without having to require treatment.”


5. Two upcoming events worth considering

I wanted to flag for you two events on the horizon that I think are worth reviewing.  First, HMA is putting together a convening focused on value based payment methodology. It’s primarily focused on moving provider organizations through the transformation process and away from a volume-based financing methodology.  That’s coming on January 23rd.

The Hertel Report is hosting its winter State of the State meetings on January 29th and 31st, depending on the location. This year’s event will include speakers from AHCCCS, from Northern Arizona Healthcare and the Arizona Public Health Assocoiation.