We’re thrilled to have recently kicked off the agenda development process for the 2022 Arizona State of Reform Health Policy Conference. Through this carefully thought-out process, we work closely with stakeholders and within our team to curate conversations and speakers that will be of utmost interest to our Arizona audience.
If you haven’t already, register to join us in Phoenix on May 26th!
This month’s newsletter includes updates on health bills we’re watching, a Q&A with Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, and details on how AHCCCS’s imminent Medicaid redetermination might impact Arizona’s American Indian population.
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State of Reform
1. Q&A: Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley on maternal and child health
Democratic Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley is primarily focused on increasing Medicaid post-partum care coverage to a year, extending the Healthy Families Program, and expanding TANF for Arizonans in need. In this Q&A, Powers Hannley discusses how she’s pursuing her “signature issue”: maternal and child health.
Historically a vocal advocate for SUD treatment, Powers Hannley also explained her recent “no” vote on a bill that would require Medicaid SUD patients to receive drug tests after treatment to measure their providers’ success. Although she supports implementing an evaluation mechanism for SUD providers—something Arizona doesn’t currently have—she opposed the bill because she says mere drug tests aren’t an accurate test of long-term SUD treatment success.
2. Effort to ban gender-affirming care considerably diminished
A push to ban gender-affirming care in Arizona has been significantly whittled down in the legislature due to increasing opposition from advocates and perhaps unexpected opposition from Republicans. The original bill, which mirrored similar legislation in conservative-leaning states, would have prohibited a physician from providing irreversible gender reassignment surgery to any individual under the age of 18.
Republican Sen. Tyler Pace broke with his party and stalled the bill in committee, narrowing it to only prohibit “genital reassignment” surgeries and eliminating the original bill’s prohibitions on “puberty blockers” and hormone replacement therapy. The bill’s opponents said it would prevent many youth from receiving “life-saving” care.
3. Redetermination’s impact on Arizona’s American Indians
With AHCCCS recently announcing their intent to continue Medicaid redeterminations, Kim Russell, executive director of the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Affairs, told State of Reform about how the potential mass disenrollment could jeopardize health coverage for Arizona’s native population—a group she said relies heavily on the program. Over half of Arizona’s American Indian population is covered by Medicaid and tribal health systems receive around 70% of their third-party reimbursements from the program, she said.
AHCCCS has urged Arizonans on Medicaid to regularly check their mail for redetermination documentation, but Russell said this is easier said than done for American Indians, who often live far away from post offices or don’t want to congregate in potentially crowded settings. Russell also explained that this population often has limited internet access and thus faces challenges uploading documentation to AHCCC’s online portals.
4. Bills on clergy visitation, collaborative care, and more move forward
A bill to allow clergy to visit residents of long-term care facilities—a build-off of sponsor Sen. Quang Nguyen’s bill that passed last year—recently passed its second chamber, positioning it close to becoming law after it overcame some opposition in committee.
A bill to allow pharmacists and providers to enter collaborative care contracts to coordinate drug therapy and provide disease management assistance is also nearing full passage. It would allow multiple pharmacists and providers to participate and require every participant to have a preexisting relationship with the patient being treated. We’re also watching initiatives to expand the services covered by AHCCCS.
5. The status of Public Health Emergency declarations
State of Reform Columnist Jim Capretta’s most recent piece examines the current status of state and federal PHE declarations and what to expect in the coming months as officials contemplate scaling them back. He said facilities and providers might find the impending end of relaxed regulatory measures provided through section 1135 of the Social Security Act “somewhat disruptive.” He also warned of the potential 14 million people who might lose Medicaid coverage after the federal PHE’s suspension of redeterminations ends.
Capretta explained that individual states have been quicker to scale back their public health declarations than the federal government, with only 20 states still having emergency declarations in place. Federal leaders, he said, are considerably more cautious. “The federal PHE is likely to remain in place so long as there is a realistic possibility that the worst effects of the virus have not fully run their course,” he said.