Arizona Legislative Session Rapidly Approaching by Joe Furia

Greg Ensell, Vice President Government Relations

In 19 days, Arizona Legislators will assemble to convene the 53rd Legislature – Second Regular Session on Monday, January 8th. At least three major factors promise to make it a busy session. First, there is a projected revenue shortfall of $104 million, second education funding will be the dominant issue and priority for funding. Lastly, there is possible pressure to for the legislative session to end as quickly as possible. The current political climate has lawmakers to anxious to return to the campaign trail and fundraising.

Regardless the length of session, the legislature is likely to engage on important healthcare issues such as opioids, physician credentialing, involuntary behavioral health assessment/evaluation/treatment, and Critical Access Hospital supplemental funding.

AzHHA members may receive regular legislative updates, for more information, contact Greg Ensell.

GOP Tax Bill Passes by Joe Furia

Debbie Johnston, Senior Vice President of Policy Development

Congress voted Wednesday to approve the conference report for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act after removing several provisions that did not comply with budget reconciliation rules. The House then reapproved the bill. The conference report maintains tax-exemption for private-activity bonds and medical expense deductions. It also repeals the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance; changes the way organizations can deduct interest expense on their debt; repeals the exclusion from gross income for interest on advance refunding bonds; and creates a 21 percent excise tax on certain executive compensation, among other provisions.

The $1.5 trillion measure as written also could trigger automatic, offsetting spending cuts under the Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, commonly known as "pay-go." Industry experts have said this could lead to $136 billion in automatic spending cuts in FFY 2018, including $25 billion in cuts to Medicare spending, $900 million to the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and $715 million to the Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund.

In related news, Senate Republicans scrapped plans to include a pair of bipartisan bills to shore up the Obamacare exchanges in a stopgap government funding measure as lawmakers scramble to avoid a shutdown this week. GOP supporters of the Obamacare fixes - Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee - now hope to move the measures when Congress considers must-pass bills in January.

Communications In Serious Illness Training Available For Your Facility by Joe Furia

Karen Beckford, Director of Thoughtful Life Conversations

AzHHA’s Thoughtful Life Conversations (TLC) Program is bringing Communications in Serious Illness training into our communities. Friday, December 28th, TLC will host it’s very first Communications in Serious Illness training at Chandler Regional Medical Center. This 2.5-hour didactic session reviews the need for a systematic approach to having more, better, and earlier conversations about patient values and priorities in serious illness. It also defines a population with serious illness who may benefit from the serious illness conversation and teaches participants to learn how to improve communication in patients with serious illness with a structured communication tool. If you would like more information on bringing this training to your facility, please contact Karen Beckford.

AzHHA Submits Comments On Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by Joe Furia

Debbie Johnston, Senior Vice President of Policy Development

On Monday AzHHA submitted comments to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) on its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for establishing opioid treatment and prescribing requirements. AzHHA staff and many of its members over the past several weeks worked with ADHS on the draft rules. In our comment letter, AzHHA expresses appreciation for the many revisions ADHS made in the draft rulemaking, but we also outline our continued concerns regarding elements of the informed consent process and need for additional flexibility during transitions of care.

Community Forum: Spotlight On The Opioid Epidemic by Joe Furia

Genesis Verduzco, Communications Manager

Join the Mayo Clinic and other healthcare leaders in their next community breakfast to talk about health issues affecting the business community, Spotlight on the Opioid Epidemic. This event will be held January 3rd at the Phoenix Art Museum from 7:30 – 9:30 a.m. Panelists include Sheila Sjolander, Assistant Director, Prevention Services from the Arizona Department of Health and Cynthia Townsend, Ph.D., Clinical Director of the Pain Rehabilitation Center Mayo Clinic Arizona. This event is free to anyone who wishes to attend. Please RSVP by clicking here

Point of Pride: Little Colorado Medical Center by Joe Furia

In 2016 Little Colorado Medical Center (LCMC) decided to reallocate some of the annual education funding toward full scholarships for four registered nurses (RN) to further their education by completing their BSN program. This program is offered to yearly LCMC’s full-time RN’s willing to commit to a 5-year employment contract. The goal is to improve patient care and outcomes by providing patients with nursing staff with a higher level education in their rural community. Earlier this month, Leslie, Amanda, and Jackie celebrated the completion of their BSN from Grand Canyon University, a success that could not have been possible to most without the help of LCMC’s generosity. Congratulations GCU Alumns!