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Connection Newsletter - AzHHA submits comments to CMS

Letter outlines hospital response to the FY 2023 Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility (IRF) Prospective Payment System proposed rule.

Legislative Update

Another slow week at the Arizona Capitol—the House adjourned until Monday, June 6 after doing some business on Tuesday and a short meeting on Wednesday morning. Senate President Karen Fann (R-LD1) has reported they are “close” on a budget agreement between the House, Senate and Governor’s Office and may have a deal to present to rank and file legislators as soon as next week. As previously reported, budget negotiations take place behind closed doors, so legislators (and lobbyists!) are anxiously awaiting the release of a draft agreement. Rumors suggest education funding and water issues are the outstanding items where consensus has not yet been reached.

Governor Ducey issued his first veto letter of this legislative term on Friday, May 27 on an elections bill, HB2617 sponsored by Rep. Chaplik (R-LD15). The measure would have required county election officials to cancel the voter registration of anyone they determine is not qualified to vote. According to the Governor’s veto message, provisions in the bill were too vague to give county recorders the guidance they would need to implement the proposal. So far this year, 277 of the 1780 bills introduced have passed, the Governor has vetoed just one, and nine bills are awaiting his signature.

AzHHA submits comments to CMS on proposed Medicare rule

AzHHA this week submitted comments on the FY 2023 Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility (IRF) Prospective Payment System proposed rule. AzHHA’s letter expressed support for several of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ proposals, but relayed concern that the market basket update does not adequately account for the fiscal strain Arizona hospitals, including IRFs, are facing as a result of the ongoing Public Health Emergency and rising inflation. The letter also responding to Agency’s request for information around the IRF transfer policy and incorporating health equity into quality reporting.

Update: national blood specimen collection tube shortage

The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) Tuesday released an update on the status of the national blood specimen collection tube shortage. ASPHL says the disruption to blood specimen collection tube availability began in the Fall of 2021 and continues to impact a variety of blood specimen tubes with EDTA tubes being commonly noted. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers frequently asked questions and answers on its webpage: Blood Specimen Collection Tube Shortage: Frequently Asked Questions | FDA.

Kaufman Hall releases National Hospital Flash Report

Median operating margins remained in the red for a fourth consecutive month in April as hospitals and health systems nationwide struggled to bounce back from the Omicron surge. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations steadily gained traction, and volumes remained low. According to the latest National Hospital Flash Report, the median Kaufman Hall Operating Margin Index for April was -3.09%, and the median change in Operating Margin was down 38.1% from last month, still very far from sustainable levels.

AzHHA releases DataGen reports

In relationship with DataGen, AzHHA distributes reports to hospitals based on information submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This data can help hospitals understand the financial impact of proposed changes and annual updates. The reports can also assist in preparing budgets or benchmarking results with other similar organizations. DataGen generates hospital-specific reports which are sent to AzHHA hospital members as part of their membership. Below is the list of reports recently sent to members.

FFY 2023 Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Proposed Rule                                  Sent 5/2/2022

FFY 2023 Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Proposed Rule                            Sent 5/9/2022

FFY 2023 Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) Proposed Rule       Sent 5/10/2022

FFY 2023 Wage Index and Occupational Mix Data Analysis                           Sent 5/16/2022  

Get the latest COVID-19 travel and testing information in time for your summer vacation

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers information on the latest COVID-19 viral test types, locations and guidance on when to get tested on its website here. You may also refresh your knowledge on the latest travel guidance including domestic, international and cruise ship travel.

Member spotlight: Arizona Burn Center – Valleywise Health Earns Re-Verification

The Arizona Burn Center – Valleywise Health announced Tuesday has been re-verified as an adult and pediatric burn center by the American Burn Association and the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons. Founded in 1965, the Arizona Burn Center is the only verified burn center in the state and one of the busiest in the country.

This achievement recognizes the Arizona Burn Center’s dedication and commitment to providing high quality burn care to patients across the Southwest. The Arizona Burn Center first received national verification in 2000. Read more here.

Summer Kick-Off Sale on AzHealthJobs Position Postings: 2-4-1

AzHHA is hosting a sale for members only on 30-, 60-, and 90-day position postings on its job board, AzHealthJobs. Get two postings for the price of one during the month of June. You can post locally within the state or nationally, depending on your desired reach. To take advantage of this opportunity, obtain the special code by emailing our Affiliated Partner contact, Robin Kidwell, at [email protected]. Be sure to tell her that you’re purchasing through your AzHHA membership.

Connection schedule update

The AzHHA Connection will move to a biweekly schedule during the summer months this year. Look for your next issue in your inbox on Thursday, June 16, 2022. If you have any questions or member needs in the meantime, contact us at [email protected].

Upcoming events

June 14 – Annual Arizona Rural Health Conference

For the past 47 years, the Arizona Center for Rural Health has hosted the Annual Arizona Rural Health Conference in collaboration with the Arizona Rural Health Association, making it one of the longest continually running rural health conferences in the United States. The Arizona Rural Health Conference provides an environment for networking and dissemination of pertinent information among professionals and community members from rural Arizona and the Southwest. Register here.

June 21- Introduction to POLST

Interested in learning how to use the Arizona POLST form with your patients? The one-hour Introduction to POLST workshop equips healthcare professionals with knowledge and resources to begin using POLST, Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, in Arizona. The objectives are to describe what POLST is at the state and national level, explain why POLST is important, define the population for POLST, when to begin the conversation and who completes POLST, describe the process for completing, reviewing and updating POLST and learn the process of submitting healthcare planning documents to the Arizona Healthcare Directive Registry. Register here.

October 19-21 - Save the Date: AzHHA Annual Leadership Conference

Mark your calendars for the 2022 Annual Leadership Conference October 19-21, 2022. After two years of putting the conference on pause to focus on the pandemic response, we will meet in the majestic Lowes Ventana Canyon in Tucson. The AzHHA Annual Leadership Conference brings together hundreds of healthcare CEOs, leaders, legislators and community partners from across the state for two and a half days of education, recognition and networking. Registration will become available in the coming months.

Sponsorship opportunities are now available. Download the sponsorship prospectus, here. Questions about sponsorship may be sent to Laura Dickscheid at [email protected].

In the News

Patients over profits: Arizona must act on medical billing reform

Arizona Mirror 

Arizona COVID-19 cases continue to increase


Medical Student Makes Longitudinal Impact in Rural Community

University of Arizona College of Medicine Newsroom