5 Things Arizona: Policy cutoff, Q&A w/Sen. Bowie, Convening Panel

This newsletter tries to feature five of the more interesting things happening this month in Arizona health care. Our content is written for the same kind of senior health care executives and health policy leaders that we expect to be with us on May 25th at our annual policy conference.

So, if you know someone who might be interested in reading our stuff, we’d love to have you forward this email. They can subscribe here to our Arizona list. But we now cover a wide range of states beyond the Grand Canyon State. You can always update your preferences there, too.





With help from Emily Boerger

1. Legislature approaches key deadline

Lawmakers are fast at work moving legislation forward ahead of this Friday’s deadline for bills to be considered in committee. In the House Health and Human Services Committee meeting this week, lawmakers passed several Senate bills including SB 1271, which would grant a transitional training permit to eligible medical school graduates if they don’t get into a residency program.

The Senate Health & Human Services Committee yesterday passed a bill to provide grant money to study medical marijuana and another bill related to genetic testing privacy. Gov. Ducey signed multiple health-related bills into law last week, including HB 2392, which creates a separate program to reimburse certain health facilities that have primary care graduate medical education programs, and SB 1097, which would make mental health an excused absence for students.


2.  Sen. Bowie discusses student mental health

Sen. Sean Bowie is a member of the Senate Appropriations, Commerce, and Finance Committees. Bowie, who sponsored the recently signed SB 1097, is championing student mental health in the Legislature this year. In this Q&A with State of Reform Reporter Eli Kirshbaum, Bowie discusses reducing the stigma around mental health, securing funding for health care initiatives, and advocating for a bipartisan budget.

In addition to SB 1097, Bowie is sponsoring SB 1376, a bill that would add mental health into school curriculum standards around health instruction. Bowie says he hopes the bill will teach kids at a young age about mental health, “so that when they do get older, they have some experience with it, and they’re perhaps better-equipped to respond to any mental health concerns that they have.”


3. Thank you to our Convening Panel!

We host the 2021 Arizona State of Reform Health Policy Conference this year on May 25th. Last week, however, we kicked off our Convening Panel process, which gathered input from some of Arizona’s most thoughtful health care and health policy leaders. Their input helps us shape the Topical Agenda and identify some of the speakers we’ll want to have ready for you in May.

So, if you have any topics, speakers, or content ideas, we would love to hear them. I’ll incorporate the feedback into our team’s discussions as we build this year’s agenda. And, if you already know you want to be with us on the 25th, be sure to register while early bird rates are still in place!

4. Billions slated for AZ in American Rescue Plan

President Biden’s signature on the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will bring an estimated $12.2 billion into Arizona. Funding includes $7.6 billion for state and local government aid, $1.1 billion for human services, $787 million for housing, and $1.7 billion to DHS, AHCCCS, and DES for a broad range of COVID-related and other health expenditures. The bill also makes what Sen. Mark Kelly calls a “historic” investment into tribal nations.

The COVID relief bill included several health policy priorities, but what will come next for health reform at the federal level? Former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber recently wrote a three-part series for State of Reform offering his thoughts on universal coverage, equity, value, and moving the national health policy agenda forward administratively through 1115 and 1332 waivers. It’s a symbol, in part, of how state leaders are working to influence federal policy across the country.


5. Arizona continues to struggle with prison health care

For the second time in recent years, last month Arizona was fined over $1 million for failing to improve its prison health care. These fines were the result of Arizona failing to comply with agreed-upon standards of care after a 2012 class action lawsuit alleged Arizona’s prison system wasn’t giving prisoners needed health care.

Rebecca Fealk, a program coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee of Arizona, discussed the history of this issue with State of Reform during a recent interview. She says the Department of Corrections’s “pattern of privatization” is to blame for the inadequate care inmates are receiving today. She says transparency is another key factor: “The solution is to actually ensure that people are being provided adequate health care inside, and the only way we’re going to allow that is that there has to be a certain transparency around that.”