5 Things Arizona: Insured rates, Swatee Surve, Interim committees

While the legislative session is a few months away, important committee work takes place in the interim. Want to know about rate changes to MCO capitation rates? That was in committee yesterday. Data on opioid use is teed up today. Those items and a few others we think are worth keeping an eye on are highlighted below among Arizona health care topics for September, 2019.


With help from Emily Viles

1. Arizona insured rate decreases by 0.6%

The number of Arizonans without health insurance increased from 2017 to 2018 according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report on health insurance coverage across the nation. In 2018, the number of insured patients in the state fell by 0.6%.

The report finds that Arizona is one of eight states that had “statistically significant” increases in the number of people without health insurance between 2017 and 2018. In 2017, roughly 1.9 million Americans were uninsured. In Arizona, the number of uninsured increased by 55,000 to total 750,000, or 10.6% of the state’s total population in 2018.

2. Tenet nurses strike for renewed contract

Nurses in Arizona participated in a one-day strike against Tenet Health hospitals, demanding higher wages and better working conditions on Friday. Nurses have reportedly been working under an expired contract or without a contract for nearly two years.

The strike impacted nearly 37,000 Arizonans. Some observers say a new contract will bring many more nurses back to the workforce as a result of the stability and predictability. Nurses resumed a typical work week following the strike on Saturday.

3. Poll: majority of US voters want Medicare for All

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found that 56% of registered voters opposed a Medicare for All plan that would replace private insurance options. 63% of Democratic voters supported Medicare for All as an option to replace private insurance, outright. Arizona’s congressional delegation is mixed, with some Democrats even opposed to the policy approach.

The poll also asked voters if they would approve of a Medicare buy-in option, an alternative often cited in place of Medicare for all. 78% of registered voters said they approve of a proposal allowing people under the age of 65 to buy into Medicare. The next round of Democratic debates are scheduled to air on October 15th and 16th where conversations about health care coverage are likely to continue.

4.  Video: Swatee Surve, Litesprite

Swatee Surve is the Founder & CEO of Litesprite. She has developed a number of disruptive technology-based health care businesses for companies like Microsoft, Nike, and T-Mobile. Litesprite leverages gaming strategy to support mental health care delivery. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss video games as health treatment.

“The game has been clinically validated by the Ohio State’s College of Pharmacy and it can help patients in a range of conditions and scenarios including those who are diagnosed with PTSD, bipolar, substance abuse disorder, severely mentally ill, along with anxiety and depression.”

5. Legislative committee on opioids to meet today

At 2:00 today, legislators and leaders from AZHCCCS will gather at the Arizona Opioid Use Disorder Council meeting. The agenda includes a report from the state on the latest data trends, the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and the impact on inpatient and outpatient treatment settings.

Today’s meeting follows a meeting yesterday of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee where the committee reviewed capitation rate changes for MCOs for 2020.