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Connection newsletter - election results, RSV and hospital finances top this week’s headlines

Read more about the AzHHA member call Friday to sort through election impacts on healthcare, an RSV dashboard makes its debut and the latest report on hospital finances.

Election outcomes still in flux

Like much of the rest of the country, Arizona had an atypical experience on Election Day. Heading into Tuesday, most pollsters and political pundits predicted a massive “red wave” as has been the case in typical midterm elections, but that wave simply hasn’t materialized, at least not at the level anticipated. The state’s top races—Governor, U.S. Senate, Attorney General, etc.—remain too close to call as of this writing Wednesday afternoon. The first batch of results released Tuesday night leaned blue as Democrats increased the use of early ballots/voting by mail. The next several batches of results leaned red as late early ballots (those dropped off at polling places) skewed Republican, as did in-person voters. There are still more than 400,000 ballots to count in Maricopa County, and statewide, we’re about 65% of the way to final results. As it stands on Wednesday afternoon, both the Arizona Senate and the Arizona House will remain in Republican control, but the margins will be extremely tight as they have been for the last several years.

As previously reported, AzHHA will hold a member-only call on Friday to discuss the election results. Erik Rasmussen, AzHHA federal contract lobbyist, and Meghan McCabe, AzHHA Director of Government Relations, will offer insights on the impact of the election on health policy moving forward. If you need information or login details for the call, please reach out to Meghan McCabe.

RSV cases continue to rise

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is reporting a spike in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infections with over five times the number of reported cases compared to the previous five-year average. For the second year in a row, RSV is not following its typical seasonality and is instead starting in late summer and early fall, and potentially peaking at an earlier date. ADHS has created an RSV dashboard to track cases in Arizona. With this change in RSV seasonality, ADHS has also posted updated recommendations for the use of palivizumab as a prophylactic regimen in the prevention of RSV.

Arizona clinicians should:

  • Review the updated AAP guidance on the use of palivizumab.
  • Have a low threshold for the initiation of palivizumab for prophylactic use in high-risk pediatric patients.
  • Review the ADHS dashboard highlighting RSV trends in Arizona when considering the use of palivizumab.
  • If RSV case counts remain high into the spring, the use of palivizumab may be indicated past the usual 5-month series. If this is the case, the AAP will publish further guidance on extended use as deemed necessary. 

Infants, children under the age of four, and the elderly, are particularly at risk.  ADHS recommends testing for RSV in those infants that have increased work of breathing or other signs of respiratory distress, and monitor these patients closely, as their clinical course can worsen significantly. Treatment for RSV remains supportive.

Hospital and health plan finances year-to-date

Last week, KaufmannHall released its September report which shows data from more than 900 hospitals nationwide. While hospital operating margins have improved slightly, year-to-date hospital margins remain negative at -0.1%. KaufmannHall reports that negative margins are driven by revenue decreases and sicker patients which end up impacting the average length of stays. While expenses have slowed some, they have not slowed enough which may cause hospitals to make difficult decisions about services that they are able to safely provide to patients. AzHHA is continuing to track Arizona-specific data and will release its third-quarter financial analysis next month.

While hospitals and hospital systems have seen a challenging 2022, most of the nation’s largest health insurers have remained profitable in 2022. UnitedHealth Group and Elevance Health reported profits that were $5.3 billion and $1.6 billion, respectively, or 28% and 7% higher than the same period last year.   

Planning for the end of the public health emergency

The COVID-19 federal public health emergency (PHE) is currently set to expire in mid-January and AzHHA sources tell us that it is unlikely to be renewed. One of the largest implications is that over 600,000 Medicaid enrollees may lose coverage. During the PHE, AHCCCS was prohibited from disenrolling members, even if they failed to provide updated information. Health care providers can help get the word out that AHCCCS members will want to ensure that their mailing address, phone number, and email address are up-to-date in and that AHCCCS members respond to requests from AHCCCS for more information. Additional information is available on AHCCCS’ website.   

Your input benefits your community

AzCHER’s Annual Community Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (CHVA) and Resource Gap Analysis (RGA) survey is now open! Your responses directly contribute to the healthcare community report that describes the regional and statewide hazards, vulnerabilities, and resource needs. Survey completion will also help you meet your regulatory requirements.

If you have any questions, please contact Shawna Murphy at [email protected]  or Brianna Rooney at [email protected].

Welcome NorthSight Recovery

AzHHA is pleased to welcome new healthcare member, NorthSight Recovery, an organization specializing in the complex assessment and multidisciplinary care required to successfully treat clients who are struggling with substance use and co-occurring mental health issues. Support is provided through ambulatory detoxification, a partial hospitalization program, an outpatient program and intensive outpatient program, and sober living homes. NorthSight Recovery prides itself on being patient-focused, outcomes-oriented, data-driven, and cost-effective. Join us in welcoming NorthSight Recovery to AzHHA membership!

Member spotlight: YRMC Quality Hall of Fame

AzHHA member Yuma Regional Medical Center held its annual Quality Hall of Fame competition last Thursday. The event is dedicated to recognizing YRMC employees and physicians for their commitment to always improving. This year, over 80 teams submitted a project to show their employee-led quality improvement project marking over 400 projects completed in 2022 alone. The Quality Hall of Fame Award Reception is to be held Nov. 17 where a winner will be announced. Our congratulations to all of the teams for their efforts to put people and patients first as they strive for continuous improvement!


December 6 – AzCHER Cybersecurity Tabletop (TTX) Exercise

Join us for a Tabletop exercise (virtual delivery) to Examine the coordination, collaboration, information sharing, and response capabilities of Hospitals and Healthcare Organizations in response to a cyber incident. Register by November 29.

December 13 – Introduction to POLST workshops

Join physician orders for life-sustaining treatment paradigm (POLST) for their one-hour virtual workshops equipping healthcare professionals with knowledge and resources to begin using POLST 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 for these virtual workshops below:

Dec. 13, 2022, at 2 p.m.

Jan. 18, 2023, at 10 a.m.



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