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Connection Newsletter - State House and Senate are set to reconvene today

The draft budget is set to include a $1.9 billion annual tax cut to be implemented over three years.

Legislative update - State House and Senate are set to reconvene today

The House made a failed attempt Monday to pass the budget when Representative David Cook (R-District 8) joined the 29 democrats on a no vote on two tax bills which, among other provisions, would have implemented a 2.5% flat tax expected to reduce state revenue by $1.9 billion per year when fully phased-in.

The House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene today; however, it is unclear if they will obtain the two republican budget holdouts- Representative Cook and Senator Paul Boyer (R-District 20).

The draft budget is still set to include a $1.9 billion annual tax cut to be implemented over three years - more than $339 million for road construction and $112 million for universities. Health-related components of the draft budget, although subject to change, include:

  • $6 million for graduate medical education funding continued from fiscal year 2021 – this is supposed to increase to $9M in fiscal year 2023;
  • $2 million for medical student loan repayment;
  • $500,000 to implement expanded newborn screening;
  • $300,000 to reduce radiation control fees paid by hospitals and others using radiation-emitting devices and
  • $300,000 for additional high-risk perinatal visits.

Although not included in the current budget, it is possible federal funds will be used for broadband grants as seen in a previous version of the draft budget.

AHCCCS quality-related announcements

The Arizona Health Care Cost and Containment System (AHCCCS) is moving forward with several, quality-related initiatives on which it is seeking input. First, AHCCCS is requesting feedback on its proposed 2021 Quality Strategy. Comments may be submitted by emailing [email protected] by June 28.  AHCCCS also posted a Value-Based Purchasing RFI, with questions due June 23 and responses due July 7. Questions should be emailed using this form and submitted electronically by emailing [email protected].

AHCCCS additionally plans to issue task orders in July to support a collaborative approach for developing quality metrics for the HEALTHII Payment Program. AzHHA met with AHCCCS staff to discuss this initiative and look forward to productive conversations over the next months. More information will be shared with members as it becomes available.

Resources and support following a cyberattack

Cyberattacks are becoming more common across the nation, recently healthcare facilities in 29 Texas counties were targets of a malware email attack, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). While there are no credible threats to sites in Arizona, the cyberattack in Texas may spread beyond. ADHS would like to remind members that threats are ever present and support is available should a situation occur in Arizona. Any incidents requiring support or coordination may be found within county and state public health. Additional support may also be found by emailing [email protected] or calling the 24/7 duty officer line at 602-603-8700.

ADHS shifts focus on COVID-19 vaccination opportunities

As the state surpasses 6 million COVID-19 vaccines administered, and over 1.6 administered in a state-run vaccination site, ADHS says its focus will now turn to increase community-based vaccine availability. All state-run sites will close by June 28. In the coming weeks, Arizonans will begin to see more neighborhood options to get a COVID-19 vaccine, including pharmacies, doctors’ offices and pop-up clinics. To find a vaccination site, use ADHS’ Vaccine Finder tool. Individuals age 12+ are encouraged to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

CDC report shows increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations among teens

A report released June 4 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows teen hospitalization rates increased 2.1 per 100,000 in early January 2021, declined to 0.6 in mid-March and again rose to 1.3 in April. Among the teens hospitalized nearly one-third required admission to the intensive care unit and 5% required invasive mechanical ventilation.

Connecting patients with their loved ones by donating tablets to hospitals and healthcare facilities

COVID Tech Connect is donating up to 15 Samsung Galaxy Tab A devices to hospitals and other care facilities to help COVID-19 patients connect with their loved ones. The non-profit organization will give priority to facilities with the greatest need for the tablets, which run on the Android operating system. To request a donation, visit COVID Tech Connect.

COVID-19 hospital reporting update

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced June 1 hospitals no longer need to report influenza data, inventory and usage data for bamlanivimab—a monoclonal antibody therapy—administered alone as part of daily data reporting related to COVID-19, effective June 10. As of today, reporting for these fields will become optional. In April, the Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency use authorization for bamlanivimab when administered alone, which prompted the HHS to make the fields optional. The influenza data fields may become mandatory again after October 1, when acute respiratory illnesses are likely to increase.

A comprehensive review of price transparency

After more than a year of challenges, hospitals are now faced with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) requirement to publish standard charges for a minimum of 300 services to provide a shoppable experience for those seeking healthcare services. To help hospitals prepare and remain compliant, Healthcare Resource Group (HRG), an AzHHA Affiliated Partner, is offering AzHHA members a webinar on June 16 from 12-1 p.m. which will review CMS regulations as well as what is required from hospitals. While reviewing strategies for selecting shoppable services, HRG will also talk about risk areas that may impact the accuracy of reporting and how CMS is currently responding to providers who have not implemented its price transparency requirement. To register, click here.

Upcoming Events

June 15 and 16 – 47th Annual Arizona Rural Health Conference

University of Arizona’s Center for Rural Health will be hosting its 47th Annual Rural Health Conference June 15 – 16 both in-person and virtually. Arizona's rural, tribal and Southwestern communities and stakeholders will share best practice models, discuss funding opportunities on the horizon, strategies for building partnerships and how to build and sustain the rural economy and healthcare workforce. Register here.

June 22 and 23 - Working together: Forging the future of serious illness care

In collaboration with partners from California and Hawaii, AzHHA will hold a virtual summit, Working Together: Forging the Future of Serious Illness Care, on June 22 and 23. Attendees will hear from inspiring speakers, get the latest information on the state of serious illness care from thought leaders and connect with colleagues and friends in breakout sessions and group discussions. Register here.

July 14 - 2021 Coding Clinic: Quarter Updates

AzHHA Affiliated Partner, NJHA Healthcare Business Solutions, is offering member health information managers and coding specialists a series of quarterly coding webinars called, 2021 Coding Clinic Updates - Everything You Really Need to Know. The webinar series provides a concise overview of the current issue of Coding Clinic and allows participants an opportunity for discussion and Q&A. The second quarter session is scheduled July 14. Register here.

July 19 – Arizona Telemedicine Program: Telemedicine Applications

The Telemedicine Applications workshop offers a more detailed approach for telemedicine programs, providing a more in-depth look at the clinical applications of such programs. Individuals or groups who have some telehealth experience and are interested in expanding services are encouraged to attend. Speakers will cover advanced telemedicine topics through an in-depth look at real-world clinical applications of telemedicine and telehealth, including telepsychiatry, infectious Disease, teleradiology, telehealth physical therapy and telehealth nursing. Register here.

In the News

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