Skip navigation

Connection Newsletter - June 30, 2022

Arizona's new budget makes a significant investment in our healthcare workforce and a new resource helps hospitals and healthcare systems strengthen the healthcare workforce. 

Legislative Update

The Arizona Legislature adjourned sine die in the early hours of June 25, just two days after passing the healthcare workforce bill (HB2691) and the fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget. HB2691, AzHHA’s top priority, makes a significant investment in our healthcare workforce through a comprehensive approach to support nurses from education to practice. In addition to monies associated with HB2691, the budget appropriated additional money for accelerated nursing programs. Together, the following workforce investments were made:

  • $27 million annually for three years for institutions that provide clinical training to nurses.
  • $5 million annually for three years for a behavioral health workforce pilot program. The money will be available for Maricopa and Diné College to design and implement training programs to grow the behavioral health technician workforce.
  • $15 million annually for three years for a nurse education investment pilot program. Universities and community college districts will be able to use this money to supplement their existing nurse education programs and be used for clinical faculty, expanding physical plant, or other needs.
  • $50 million (one-time) for accelerated nursing. Of this, $6 million will be allocated to Creighton University and $44 million to other universities for programs that graduate nursing students in a shorter time frame than more traditional nursing programs. 

Additional highlights to the budget will be outlined for our members in a legislative recap call July 11, 2022, and within our upcoming 2022 Legislative Report.

AzHHA would like to thank its valued members for their involvement and direct advocacy with legislators. We appreciate the collaboration among healthcare and education advocacy partners including the Arizona Nurses Association, Arizona Community Colleges and many others. Additionally, our bill would not have made it to the finish line without the steadfast support of Representative Joanne Osborne, a true leader in support of Arizona’s healthcare workforce, making sure HB2691 was included in the budget.

AHA calls on Congress to protect Medicare Advantage beneficiaries’ care

The American Hospital Association this week sent a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee calling for greater congressional oversight to protect access to care for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. The letter urges Congress to support legislation (H.R.3173/S.3018) to streamline MA plans’ prior authorization requirements; prohibit MA plans from using more restrictive medical necessity and coverage criteria than traditional Medicare; establish a provider complaint process and enforce penalties for plans that fail to comply with federal rules; and clarify states’ role in MA plan oversight. AzHHA supports these efforts by the AHA and will work with Arizona’s congressional delegation to advance legislation to hold MA plans accountable for inappropriately and illegally restricting beneficiary access to medically necessary care, such as was found in a recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General that estimated 13% of prior authorization denials and 18% of payment denials should have been granted.

AHA shares new workforce challenges resource

The American Hospital Association (AHA) recently launched the first in a series of new resources to help hospitals and healthcare systems strengthen the healthcare workforce. The guidance presents action items on how CEOs can address the physical and emotional well-being of their team and prevent workplace violence. AHA will continue to add content to its website over the next few months including sections on data and technology, recruitment and retention strategies, equity and inclusion and creative staffing models.  

CMS releases FAQs on No Surprises Act

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the implementation of the No Surprises Act. The FAQs answer some questions regarding the type of payer, balance billing for Medicare Advantage and Medicaid Managed Care plans, prohibitions on the Use of Notice and Consent and balance billing. 

Supreme Court rules 5-4 in favor of HHS for Medicare DSH payments

While much of the discussion around Friday’s Supreme Court decisions focused on Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court on Friday also released a decision on Becerra v. Empire Health Foundation. The Court was asked to rule on the process of calculating the Medicare Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) fraction - if the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should continue to include Medicare patients when the services are not being paid for by Medicare. This generally results in reducing DSH payments to the hospitals. In a 5-4 decision, the Court upheld the HHS’ interpretation of how to calculate the Medicare and Medicaid fraction of a hospital’s payment.

COVID-19 supportive care program concludes

As we fulfill the end of our grant for AzHHA’s COVID-19 Supportive Care program, services will conclude at the end of June. Since January 2021, the grant provided patients with acute or chronic COVID-19 symptoms and related complications free access to palliative care via telehealth. AzHHA thanks its partners including the Area Agency on Aging, Arizona Complete Health, El Rio and AzHHA members including Havasu Regional Medical Center, Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center, Summit Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield for contributing to the program’s success through patient referrals and education.  

Meet AzHHA’s newest Affiliated Partner: Hospital Services Corporation (HSC)

AzHHA is pleased to announce our newest business partner and endorsed vendor in the Affiliated Partners Program: Hospital Services Corporation, or HSC, a company with the experience and expertise to offer individual or combined program benefits verifying credentials and enrolling your providers quickly, ensuring faster reimbursement with your contracted payers. HSC is a subsidiary of the New Mexico Hospital Association and is a trusted partner in delivering business solutions to hospital members. For more information, contact Bernadette Armijo at the Hospital Services Corporation, [email protected], or Laura Dickscheid at AzHHA, [email protected].

Upcoming Events

July 6 - Member webinar: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization: Implications for Hospitals and Health Systems

AzHHA members are invited to join the July 6 webinar to learn more from the legal and clinical perspective of how last week’s Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V. Wade could impact hospitals and health systems. For more information, contact [email protected].

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.

Click on your preferred date to register for the virtual workshop:

September 22 – AIM Collaborative Conference

Registration is now open for the 2022 AIM Collaborative Conference on September 22, 2022, at Creighton University School of Medicine-Phoenix campus. This year’s conference theme, Push for Change, will focus on the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM)’s maternal hypertension bundle. Attendees will learn about the newest evidence and strategies for timely treatment of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and integration of health equity into patient care. Register by September 8, 2022, to secure your seat.

October 19-21 – 2022 Annual Leadership Conference

Mark your calendar for AzHHA’s premiere event - 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

Arizona Medicaid Director Points to Success of Supportive Housing

Healthcare Innovation

Arizona hospital to close June 30

Becker’s Hospital Review

A new law requires AZ hospitals to allow daily in-person visitation. Here's why hospitals support it