Department of Labor Finalizes Rule to Expand Association Health Plans by Joe Furia

Debbie Johnston, Senior Vice President of Policy Development

This week the Department of Labor (DOL) released a final rule that modifies the definition of "employer" under federal law, allowing more individuals, including sole proprietors, to participate in Association Health Plans (AHPs) based on geography or industry. The DOL will monitor the plans, which are required to meet certain nondiscrimination requirements. The final rule preempts states from fully regulating these plans, including ensuring that appropriate consumer protections are in place. While the expansion of AHPs may reduce costs for some healthier individuals, experts believe this will come at the expense of less healthy individuals who will continue to rely on the Marketplace for coverage. The provisions of the rule go into effect on a rolling basis between September 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019, depending on whether the AHP is existing or new and whether the plan will be self-funded or fully insured.

1.5 Million AHCCCS Members Receiving Letters Regarding Changes by Joe Furia

Shayna Diamond, Director of Community Affairs

AHCCCS has awarded new contracts for integrated medical and behavioral health care, which will impact nearly 1.5 of AHCCCS’s 1.9 million members. AHCCCS will send a letter to all who must change to a new health plan in late June. Consumers can accept the auto enrollment to a new health plan or may choose a new plan during July. The new AHCCCS Complete Care (ACC) contracts begin on October 1, 2018. For complete details on this major change to AHCCCS go to: www.azahcccs.gov/ACC. If your organization does not offer application assistance for AHCCCS, then refer people to: 800.377.3536 or go to www.coveraz.org/connector to make an appointment.

FCC Commissioners Approve Funding Increase for Rural Telehealth Program by Joe Furia

Ann-Marie Alameddin, Vice President of Strategy and General Counsel

The Federal Communications Commission commissioners (FCC) have voted unanimously to increase funding for the Rural Health Care Program by $171 million. These funds will help healthcare providers get the connectivity they need to better serve patients throughout rural communities. The FCC will increase the program's annual cap to $571 million. This increase represents what the funding level would be today had the cap, which was established in 1997, included an inflation adjustment. The order also will adjust the cap annually for inflation and allow unused funds from prior years to be carried forward to future years.

Summer State of the State – Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff by Joe Furia

Shayna Diamond, Director of Community Affairs

A new date has been added to The Hertel Report’s Summer State of the State. Friday, July 13th in Flagstaff has recently been added in addition to the Wednesday, June 27 (Tucson) and Friday, June 29th (Phoenix) dates. The 2018 Summer State of the State will include insights on the changing value-based landscape and its impact across all areas of the healthcare community. AzHHA members receive discounted pricing with promo code. Please request promo code by contacting communications@azhha.org. To register and view more details about the event, click here.

Opioid Prescribing CME Courses: Responding to the Public Health Emergency by Joe Furia

Ann-Marie Alameddin, Vice President of Strategy and General Counsel

The University of Arizona Center for Rural Health is offering free prescription opioid continuing medical education courses for Arizona prescribers. This course will help familiarize prescribers with current guidelines for opioid use and prescribing, and non-opioid strategies for pain management. Learning objectives include:

  • Appropriately use a range of therapeutic options when managing patients with chronic pain
  • Comply with current opioid risk-management practices, including the use of pain contracts and urine drug testing
  • Educate patients on the proper use, storage, and disposal of opioid medications.
  • Use preferred modalities and medications for the treatment of acute and chronic non-terminal pain
  • Assess when it would be appropriate or not for a pregnant patient to undergo medically-supervised withdrawal from heroin

For more information or to register for the course, click here.

Point of Pride: HealthSouth by Joe Furia

On July 1st our HealthSouth members, will change their name to Encompass Health, reflecting the Encompass Health corporate name change that went into effect on January 1, 2018. They will continue to provide the same high-quality post-acute care for patients overcoming a variety of debilitating illnesses and injuries. To learn more about HealthSouth’s name change, click here.