Bills to expand AHCCCS covered services near passage

At the House Health and Human Services Committee meeting on Monday, legislators discussed and voted on two key bills concerning Arizona Health Care Cost Containment (AHCCCS)-covered services that recently passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. 

 

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Senate Bill 1077 would expand the list of health and medical services covered by AHCCCS to include medically necessary chiropractic services performed by a chiropractor and ordered by a primary care physician or practitioner. The bill would allow for up to 20 annual visits and allow for a primary care physician or practitioner to request authorization for additional services if they are deemed medically necessary.

Kyle Sawyer, representing AHCCCS, said the bill would cost $2.6 million from the General Fund in the first year, and also have an ongoing cost of $3.4 million from the General Fund. 

Sen. Nancy Barto (R – Phoenix), the bill’s sponsor, said this bill would allow many patients to use chiropractic services as an alternative to surgery or more complicated treatments.

“I think we’re wasting time and a lot of heartache by promoting inappropriate services and treatments to patients that really could benefit from a less invasive type of treatment,” she said.

Rep. Joanne Osborne (R – Goodyear) added that AHCCCS covering medically necessary chiropractic services would help improve the opioid and substance use crisis, as those chiropractic services could be prescribed and used instead of painkillers.

Barry Aarons, representing the Arizona Association of Chiropractic, also emphasized the reduction in prescriptions for painkillers and hospital visits for patients that would come as a result of having a non-pharma alternative.

The bill passed in a 6-2 vote, with opposition from Reps. Beverly Pingerelli (R – Peoria) and Joseph Chaplik (R – Scottsdale). 

SB 1272, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sens. Tyler Pace (R – Mesa) and Rebecca Rios (D – Phoenix) and Reps. Osborne and Pamela Powers Hannley (D – Tucson), would expand AHCCCS coverage for pregnant women and new mothers from 90 days to one year postpartum. Pace said the bill intends to close the coverage gap of women who become eligible for AHCCCS coverage while they are pregnant, but then lose coverage after the 90-day mark.

Pace also highlighted how important this coverage is for women experiencing postpartum behavioral health issues, as postpartum depression is the most common complication of pregnancy. He added that most babies in Arizona are born covered by AHCCCS.

“We know that within that first year postpartum, that’s where all the risk is,” he said. “A lot of bad things can happen postpartum, and when this coverage goes away, you lose benefits … You also have other issues that remain after the baby is born that can last a long time, they don’t go away 90 days after the child is born.”

The bill passed in an 8-1 vote, with opposition from Pingorelli. Both bills now await approval from the full House chamber.