Two key bills moved from the House Committee of the Whole and into the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday. These bills are House Bill 2490, pertaining to collaborative practice agreements between pharmacists and providers, and House Bill 2622, pertaining to Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) eligibility renewals. Both bills passed unanimously.
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HB 2490, sponsored by Rep. Justin Wilmeth (R – Phoenix), would allow a licensed pharmacist to enter into a collaborative practice agreement with a provider to initiate, monitor, and modify drug therapy or provide disease management assistance. The collaborative practice agreement can be between multiple pharmacists and providers.
The bill also requires that a provider who enters into an agreement must have a previously established relationship with a patient in order for them to be included under the agreement.
Diane McAllister, representing the Arizona Pharmacy Association (AzPA) and speaking in support of the bill, said a collaborative practice agreement would allow pharmacists and doctors to work as a team to provide care for an individual.
“The doctor is at the head of that [care] team … A pharmacist has the ability to see all of the medications that all of your doctors have prescribed, and maybe a patient has forgotten to disclose one of those medications to their doctor, so that may have a contrary indication, so [pharmacists] would be able to help with that,” McAllister said. “But it also allows for us, through these collaborative practice agreements, to do some things that we specialize in other than just filling that prescription and take that off the doctor’s plate and work with the doctor on that care.”
The bill passed in a 6-0 vote.
HB 2622, sponsored by Rep. Walter Blackman (R – Snowflake), would require AHCCCS to annually renew the eligibility of an individual that was under the custody of the Department of Child Safety (DCS) who is determined eligible without requiring additional information from that individual until they reach 26 years of age. Their eligibility would be renewed unless they notify AHCCCS that they have moved out of the state or provided information to the administration indicating that the person may qualify for a different eligibility category.
The bill allows AHCCCS or its designee to use reliable information available to the agency to determine the individual’s state residency, including through an electronic data match.
The committee also discussed Sen. Nancy Barto’s (R – Phoenix) proposed amendment which clarifies that the annual renewal occurs on an automatic basis and requires AHCCCS to transfer applicable members, whose eligibility in a different category ends, back to the category for individuals within the DCS system.
Zaida Dedolph, director of health policy at the Children’s Action Alliance, testified in favor of this bill, emphasizing its importance for foster youth who often experience housing instability when they age out of the foster care system.
As a result, Dedolph says that when DCS is helping them with paperwork to transition out of the system, they will often put the DCS office address down as their new place of residence because many of these children are unsure of where they will be living once they leave the system. This results in AHCCCS being unable to reach the children with important information.
She said many young people will go to the emergency room and find out they’ve been dropped from their AHCCCS coverage.
“We think that this bill is going to help fulfill the promise we are making to young people when they enter the foster care system, it’s going to help them stay connected to the physical and emotional supports that they need,” she said.
Sen. Sally Ann Gonzalez (D – Tucson) emphasized the importance of including children in tribal foster care programs in this coverage.
The bill passed in a 7-0 vote.