We’ve now been in session for four weeks, which leaves just two more weeks to hear bills in committee in their chamber of origin. Agendas are only getting longer, and patience is in short supply during committee meetings as we move towards deadlines that “kill” legislation. The House Health Committee met Monday afternoon and advanced HB2434, which requires hospitals and outpatient surgical centers to have policies in place and procedures implemented for surgical smoke evacuation, including a surgical smoke evacuation system, by January 2024. The House Commerce Committee advanced a problematic bill related to COVID-19 vaccination and employers, HB2198, which would require employers to either rehire any employees terminated for noncompliance with vaccination policies or provide 12-month severance pay. The measure is also retroactive to November 30, 2021. AzHHA opposed the legislation, as did many business groups and other healthcare organizations.
Across the Capitol on the Senate side, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved SB1272, a measure to extend AHCCCS coverage to 12 months postpartum from the current limit of 60 days. The Senate Health Committee held a lengthy hearing Wednesday morning focused on measures related to group homes and developmental disability service providers. The Senate Commerce Committee advanced SB1494 Wednesday afternoon, which requires the Department of Economic Security to provide unemployment benefits for an employee who separates from employment as a result of a COVID-19 vaccine requirement but exempts employers who are required by law to have a vaccine requirement. This clear carveout for hospitals is helpful to AzHHA members whose vaccine policies are required as part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Conditions of Participation.