Dear Hospital and Healthcare Leaders,
Just when we thought our use of the word “unprecedented” would be relegated to historical documents, we encounter this year’s legislative session.
As you may have heard on our weekly Legislative Update calls, this year’s session had some of the most troubling legislation we have seen. Hospitals were under attack and our healthcare workforce continued to face burnout from the marathon this pandemic has presented.
Despite a turbulent year, AzHHA was successful in advocating for a significant investment in member hospitals’ number one area of need: healthcare workforce (HB2691). The legislation which secured nearly $150 million over the next three years takes a comprehensive approach by expanding the nursing pipeline by allocating funding to educational institutions to increase enrollment in nursing programs, to healthcare institutions to grow their clinical training opportunities and to establish a statewide “transition to practice” program to support new nurses as they enter the hospital setting.
The legislature also made significant investments in maternal and child health, one of AzHHA’s key Care Improvement initiatives, including
- extending AHCCCS eligibility to women for up to 12 months postpartum from the current 60 days. (SB1272)
- allowing kids to remain continuously enrolled in KidsCare for 12 months. (HB2551)
Our main wins were in the budget, including securing funding for the workforce bill. Additionally, AzHHA was successful in clarifying legislative authority for AHCCCS to increase HEALTHII payments this year. We were also successful in stopping many troublesome bills, including:
- overreach on hospital visitation (SB1514) which would have significantly limited a hospital’s ability to maintain reasonable visitation policies, including a requirement to have every patient have two visitors 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- the right to refuse treatment (SB1393) which required hospitals to continue offering treatment protocols to patients who refuse intermediate steps, such as patients who may refuse a vaccine in advance of a transplant surgery.
- prohibiting COVID-19 vaccine requirements (SB1567) which attempted to establish a state process for employees to opt-out of COVID-19 vaccine policies, putting hospitals in conflict with our federal obligations to CMS.
As your hospital association dedicated to creating and supporting sound health policy for Arizona, we applaud your pandemic recovery efforts and enduring strength over the past year. Together, we are able to put aside partisanship and continue our vision to put people and patients first in creating a stronger and more resilient healthcare system.
Thank you for your membership, participation and engagement!
President and Chief Executive Officer
Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association