Arizona health care bills update

The deadline for Arizona’s legislative committees to hear bills from the opposite chamber has passed, and the Legislature is now quickly approaching the last day for Conference Committees. Several consequential health care bills are still in-play, including action on PBM regulations, telemedicine parity, and AHCCCS benefits.

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Here are some State of Reform is watching:

  • Both chambers have now unanimously passed Sen. Heather Carter’s telemedicine parity bill (SB 1089), which she mentioned in this Q&A earlier this session. The bill requires insurers to cover the same services provided through telemedicine as they do through in-person care. 
  • HB 2068, which we wrote about in our initial list of bills we’re watching, is now on its way to the governor’s desk. The bill gives clinical nurse specialists prescribing authority if they meet certain educational and training requirements and have earned a national certification. 
  • Another big bill Carter mentioned: a bill that appropriates money from the General Fund for addressing Arizona’s physician workforce shortage (SB 1354). That bill passed out of the House Appropriations Committee in late March in a 10-1 vote. The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association expressed its support for the bill in a press release, and explains investments in the bill this way:

“Senate Bill 1354 will help alleviate the physician shortage by appropriating a total of $50 million split among five programs including Graduate Medical Education (GME), the University of Arizona Medical School, primary care provider loan repayment, medical student loan repayments, and nurse training.”

  • HB 2285, which passed unanimously out of the full House and now also out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, places several requirements on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Jessie Armendt, who represented the Arizona Pharmacy Association in the Senate Committee meeting, said the bill is the product of “at least two years” of stakeholder meetings and that — while the association doesn’t think it’s the “tightest possible language” — it’s backing it with the understanding that PBMs “are going to be good actors.”

“We’re really excited to be getting this bill this far in the process this year,” Armendt said. “This addresses several issues that pharmacies have had with pharmacy benefit managers. Specifically, restrictions on customer services that they would like to provide concerning delivery and 90-day fills, and then also adding some transparency requirements for back-pricing.”

  • Sen. Kate Brophy McGee, in a Q&A earlier in the session, mentioned working on a bill that would begin work on addressing maternal mortality and morbidity. That bill (SB 1040), which creates an Advisory Committee on Maternal Fatalities and Morbidity,  passed through the Senate and is moving through the House. 
  • Bills directing AHCCCS to seek federal authorization to reimburse the Indian health services and tribal facilities to cover the cost of adult dental services; to provide dental care for pregnant women; and to cover up to 10 hours per year of diabetes self-management training are all still alive. 
  • Rep. Nancy Barto told us to look out for legislation that would give the health board guidance on dealing with medical impostors, referencing the 2018 ABC15 series that she said revealed that Arizona health boards don’t deal with impostors “in a very uniform way.” HB 2118, on which Barto is the prime sponsor, designates unauthorized practice of a health profession as a class 5 felony and directs the health profession regulatory boards to regulate unauthorized practice. It passed the House in a 56-4 vote and is moving through the Senate. 
  • A bill (SB 1211) that includes policy recommendations for preventing sexual abuse of Arizonans with disabilities made by the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (ADDPC) has moved through the Senate and was recently approved by both caucuses in the House. ADDPC made the recommendations following the incident at a Hacienda HealthCare intermediate-care facility, where an incapacitated patient gave birth. Among the requirements in the bill: Facilities like the one in the incident would have to be licensed, and any person who wants to work in such a facility would be subject to a background check.