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Connection newsletter – House and Senate committee assignments, mobile COVID-19 testing program and CMS looks to streamline prior auth process

Read more about committee assignments in the Arizona legislature that are pertinent to Arizona hospitals, ADHS's new mobile COVID-19 testing program focused on health equity and learn why CMS is looking to streamline a prior authorization process.

House and Senate announce committee assignments

This week, the Arizona House leadership from both caucuses announced the Committee schedule and assignments for the upcoming 56th Arizona Legislature. Of importance to our primary issues, the House Health and Human Services Committee will be meeting Monday afternoons and led by Rep.-elect Steve Montenegro. His Vice Chair will be Rep.-elect Barbara Parker. The other Republican members will be Reps.-elect Selina Bliss and Matt Gress, and Rep. Beverly Pingerelli. The Ranking Member on the Committee will be Rep. Amish Shah, MD, and he’ll be joined by Reps. Alma Hernandez, Chris Mathis and Rep.-elect Patty Contreras. You can find a full list of all House committees in this press release.

The Senate has not announced a schedule yet, but the Senate Health and Human Services Committee will be led by Sen. TJ Shope. His Vice Chair will be Sen.-elect Janae Shamp. The other Republican members will be Sen. Sonny Borrelli and Sen.-elect Justine Wadsack. The Ranking Member on the Committee will be Sen. Sally Ann Gonzales, joined by Sen. Theresa Hatathlie and Sen.-elect Eva Burch. You can find the full list of all Senate committee assignments in this press release.

CMS proposes streamlining prior authorization process for Medicare Advantage and Medicaid

On Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS) issued a proposed rule that would require Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and federally-facilitated Marketplace health plans to streamline the prior authorization process. These plans would be required to implement an electronic prior authorization process and implement a standardized data exchange process. Payers would be required to respond to urgent prior authorization requests within 72 hours and standard requests with seven calendar days and to provide a reason for denial if one occurs. Comments on the rule are due to CMS by March 13. AzHHA members will receive an alert on the proposed rule in the coming days.  

CMS Hospital Commitment to Health Equity

The Hospital Commitment to Health Equity was officially adopted in August 2022 as part of CMS's IPPS Final Rule for CY2023. This measure requires an attestation to be submitted to CMS as to whether the healthcare organization is reviewing and prioritizing equitable care. The measure will be mandatory starting January 1, 2023, as part of the 2023 Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) requirements. CMS is also introducing two equity-focused process measures in 2023: Screening for Social Drivers of Health (SDOH-01) and Screen Positive Rate for Social Drivers of Health (SDOH-02). These measures will be required starting in 2024. The goal of the new Hospital Commitment to Health Equity attestation measure is not to track how equitable the healthcare organization’s care is; it’s simply to understand if the organization has made health equity a strategic priority. The Hospital Commitment to Health Equity attestation measure is broken down into five domains. Each of the five domains is worth one point for a total of five possible points. However, to earn each domain’s point, the organization must affirmatively attest to ALL the elements (bullet points) under each domain. It is also good to note that CMS has indicated that scores for this measure will be publicly reported. Learn more at The Federal Register and consider enrolling in our Health Equity Organizational Assessment Collaborative. We are only taking enrollments from healthcare facilities outside of Pima and Maricopa Counties through December 31, 2022. Let us help you meet CMS’s attestation measures and join us in identifying opportunities to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes and the patient experience in rural Arizona. Enroll here.

FDA issues guidance for compounding of amoxicillin to alleviate shortages

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states Amoxicillin oral powder for suspension was recently added to the FDA drug shortage list due to increased demand. FDA says it is working with drug manufacturers to address amoxicillin oral suspension shortages. The agency on Friday issued an immediately in effect guidance on the preparation of beta-lactam oral antibiotic suspension products that appear on FDA’s drug shortage list by a licensed pharmacist in a state-licensed pharmacy or federal facility. The agency says this guidance describes steps to reduce the risk of cross-contamination between these and other products.

ADHS COVID-19 mobile testing program

The Office of Health Equity reports that ADHS' COVID-19 Testing Equity Mobile Testing Program is up and running and here to help meet our community's COVID-19 testing needs. ADHS states the program focuses on unsheltered Arizonans and those residing in correctional facilities; however, all community partners who work with diverse or traditionally underserved communities statewide are encouraged to fill out our easy online request form. Read more here which includes a link to the online request form

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 helps 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 Readmissions Reduction Program Analysis            Sent 11/8/2022
  • CY 2023 OPPS Final Rule Brief and Analysis                           Sent 11/10/2022
  • CY 2023 Medicare Home Health Final Rule                            Sent 11/29/2022
  • 3Q2022 Quality Measure Trends Analysis                             Sent 12/7/2022 

Universal Background Screening Offers Free Trial for New Clients

Our preferred partner, Universal Background Screening, is offering AzHHA Members an “end of the year” free trial for new clients that includes three background screening reports. In addition to the free trial, Universal offers discounts on services and waives set-up and account integration fees for AzHHA members. As an endorsed vendor with AzHHA for more than 13 years, Universal provides best-in-class employment screening while consistently being recognized as HRO Today’s top Enterprise Screening Firm.

Take advantage of their services as they will help you reduce hiring risk and deliver white-glove service. They integrate with most Applicant Tracking systems at no cost. Universal is an accredited firm headquartered in Arizona, already providing Joint Commission-compliant screening to many AzHHA members. For more information, contact Jocelyn McCanse, Senior Account Executive, at [email protected].


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