AzHHA Makes Progress on Legislative Goals / by Joe Furia

Greg Ensell, Vice President of Government Relations

Today is the 53rd day of legislative session.  We are engaged on fewer than twenty bills - a significant decrease from the beginning of session, when we were monitoring or engaged on over one hundred bills. AzHHA and its partners have made substantial positive progress on most key issues. Here are just a few.

House Bill 2322 will help address the problem of significant delays in insurers credentialing and loading new doctors into their billing systems. AzHHA helped craft and supported the bill. If passed, it will: require insurers to approve a physician’s credentials and load them into their billing system within 100 days; require insurers reimburse for services provided to their members retroactive to the date a physician’s credentials were approved; and, create a financial penalty for insurers when they exceed the time limits. Last week, the House unanimously passed the bill and this would not have been possible without the more than 300 people who sent their legislators emails asking them to vote yes and the 15 hospital CEOs who made phone calls.

Senate Bill 1195, is intended to reform and streamline the process of involuntary screening and evaluating behavioral health patients who are involuntarily held because they may be a danger to themselves or others. It is a work in progress and may take the entire legislative session to find consensus. For the moment, it is wide-ranging and may have unintended consequences. AzHHA is working with our members to determine how the proposal will impact different types of facilities across the state.

As introduced, House Bill 2135 and Senate Bill 1086 would require AHCCCS to cover chiropractic services. While AzHHA is not opposed to chiropractic care or its inclusion in AHCCCS, we are opposed to the funding mechanism contained in the bill – the state hospital assessment. AHCCCS estimates that adding chiropractic services would then increase the assessment by approximately $2.5 million per year. AzHHA and its partners were successful in amending the bill to prohibit the use of assessment monies to fund these new services.

As amended, House Bill 2042 will require insurers to cover urology, pain medicine and substance abuse services provided through telemedicine. Last week it passed the House unanimously. Though AzHHA strongly supported the bill, we are cognizant that it does not address many of the factors necessary for telemedicine to be implemented widely and sustainably.

Please feel free to contact Greg Ensell if you have questions about these or any other bills.