The legislative session is at about the halfway point and lawmakers are working to advance their health bills—some of which are included below. The last day for each chamber to consider its own bills was last Friday.
Also in this newsletter: insight on bipartisanship and policy priorities from Rep. Shah, a conversation on hospital capacity with AzHHA CEO Ann-Marie Alameddin, and AHCCCS director Jami Snyder’s remarks on Medicaid redetermination.
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State of Reform
1. Rep. Shah prioritizes bipartisanship
Democratic Rep. Amish Shah, a member of the House Health Committee, spoke with State of Reform reporter Soraya Marashi about his efforts to include the other side of the aisle when crafting health policy. “When bills have that bipartisan support, they move through the system a lot better. I just want [my bills] to move because I want to solve problems, and so I try to get bipartisan bills together so that I can get them to the finish line,” he said.
His legislation to ban discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity has bipartisan sponsorship and awaits action in the House. He is also working to garner Republican support for bills he’s cosponsoring to extend low-income housing tax credits and allocate $50 million to the state’s Housing Trust Fund. His effort to increase postpartum visit rates for AHCCCS members recently advanced out of committee.
2. Early Bird rates ending March 18th!
Discounted registration for the 2022 Arizona State of Reform Health Policy Conference ends on March 18th! We’re currently developing the Topical Agenda for the event, so stay tuned for a breakdown of the day’s panel topics.
This event will be in person at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel on May 26, with proof of vaccination required for all attendees. Be sure to register and take advantage of our Early Bird Rates before March 18 if you know you want to join!
3. Health bills on the move
With SB 1163 having just passed the Senate, Arizonans could soon have access to individualized investigational drugs from manufacturers that haven’t been FDA-approved. Other policy we’re watching includes a bill to prohibit abortions after 15 weeks, a bill to increase the KidsCare eligibility period from 6 months to 1 year, and a bill to prohibit COVID vaccinations from being required in schools.
Sen. Barto’s bill to cover chiropractic services through AHCCCS—a continuation of an effort from last year—is nearing passage, having recently passed through committee in its second chamber and being read on the House floor for the first time yesterday. Advocates say the bill would reduce reliance on opioids and help individuals with chronic pain return to the workforce.
4. Q&A: AzHHA CEO on state of Arizona hospitals
Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association President and CEO Ann-Marie Alameddin wants masks and vaccines to be depoliticized in the state, calling them some of the most important tools in protecting hospital workers and freeing up capacity. In this Q&A, Alameddin discusses public health mandates, workforce shortages, and more.
Alameddin wants to see Arizona hospitals move away from a “just in time” approach to supply and staffing, instead learning from the pandemic and being more prepared ahead of time. “I think we need to have more redundancy in [the health] system so that we have those necessary supplies and those necessary stockpiles. We have got to change the model to make sure that it’s meeting the needs of whatever catastrophe, whatever crisis, whatever future pandemic or mass casualty event we might have.”
5. AHCCS prepares for redetermination
At least 500,000 Arizonans who are receiving Medicaid coverage through the PHE’s expanded eligibility will be ineligible for coverage when the emergency declaration ends, according to AHCCCS Director Jami Snyder. Snyder explained that the agency has already been analyzing eligibility in preparation for the imminent Medicaid redetermination process.
Snyder said AHCCCS is working with Medicaid health plans to identify members due for renewal or who haven’t submitted documentation and conduct “proactive outreach” to these individuals. By connecting soon-to-be-ineligible Arizonans with other coverage options, Snyder said AHCCCS can prevent anyone from “falling through the cracks.”