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Connection newsletter - this week's health news highlights for the Arizona healthcare community

Read the healthcare perspective on the first week of the 56th legislative session, workforce grant opportunities, our comments on the credentialing process and more.

Legislative Update- Week One

The 56th Legislature First Regular Session convened on Monday, Jan. 9 with a few familiar faces and 46 brand-new legislators. Opening Day is filled with pomp and circumstance, as both chambers swore in their new members and elected leadership. As previously reported, the Senate chose Senator Warren Petersen (R-14) to be President on a party-line vote, and the House elected Representative Ben Toma (R-27) by joint motion by both Republican and Democratic leaders. The House Health Committee did not meet this week, but the Senate Health Committee held its first hearing on Tuesday. The Senate Health Committee advanced two measures to add covered services to AHCCCS—SB1016, which adds speech therapy coverage for adults, and SB1017, which adds cochlear implant surgery for adults.

Governor Katie Hobbs delivered her first State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature on Opening Day as well. You can find her full remarks here, but most of her time was spent discussing her top three issues: education spending and reform, tackling housing affordability and homelessness and addressing critical water issues. The Governor’s address lasted just shy of 45 minutes, but was not without drama, as many members of the majority either turned their backs to her or walked out of the Chamber as she spoke. Stay tuned for a Legislative Update from the AzHHA Government Relations team each week during session. As always, if you have any questions on legislative session, you can reach out directly to AzHHA Director of Government Relations, Meghan McCabe.

State Medicaid Advisory Committee meeting update

The State Medicaid Advisory Committee met yesterday and Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) staff provided an overview and update on various projects the Administration is working on. A key item discussed is how the Administration will be redetermining eligibility under the parameters of the recently enacted federal Consolidated Appropriations Act. AHCCCS has developed a "Return to Normal" webpage with more information on this topic, including community and contractor resources.

AzHHA submits comments on changes to the AHCCCS credentialing and recredentialling process

On behalf of its members, AzHHA submitted comments last week to AHCCCS on their proposed changes to Section 950 of the AHCCCS Medical Policy Manual regarding the credentialing and recredentialing process. In its letter, AzHHA expressed support and appreciation in requiring contractors to reimburse providers back to the date of the completed application. This change helps providers, especially in rural areas, to retain needed specialists and for providers to get paid for the work that they do, caring for patients. AzHHA also offered suggestions on how to further improve the credentialing process and reduce the administrative burden for health plans and providers.

Public health emergency extended

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) yesterday renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration for another 90 days. The extension will allow for the continuation of federal regulatory waivers and other flexibilities that are necessary for hospitals to deliver care during continued elevations in medical surge.

340B Payment Ruling

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia yesterday decided to allow HHS to propose an appropriate remedy to address past Medicare payments cuts to hospitals participating in the 340B drug pricing program. Under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer, HHS was ordered to halt 340B-related cuts for the remainder of 2022. With respect to previous cuts for CY 2018-2021, HHS recently indicated it expects to propose a remedy by this April. It is critical that any remedy not penalize the remainder of the hospital field as they continue to care for their patients and communities.

Hospitals Against Violence resources to combat human trafficking

AzHHA, in partnership with the American Hospital Association (AHA), encourages Arizona hospitals to join us in a call to action to combat human trafficking. Our state is host to some high-profile sporting events in the coming weeks and hospitals, health systems, and clinicians will likely find themselves experiencing elevated interactions and on the front lines of care for victims of human trafficking. Hospitals may find resources on AHA’s Hospitals Against Violence webpage as well as helpful information to create a communication and care response plan to support front-line teams and the victims of human trafficking.

Workforce grant application now open through state board of nursing

The Arizona State Board of Nursing (AZBN) has $25 million in grants available for licensed healthcare institutions to create or expand clinical training opportunities for nurses. The AZBN serves as the administrator of the Student Nurse Clinical Rotation and Licensed or Certified Nurse Training Pilot Program. This program was created as part of the 2022 AzHHA legislative priority, the Healthcare Workforce bill (HB2691). Three sets of grant application dates have been released, and funding will be considered for new programs and for the expansion of existing programs. Visit the AZBN website for more information. 


Jan. 18 – Intro to POLST

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.

Upcoming workshops:

Jan. 26 - Hospital Assessments and HEALTHII payments 101

AzHHA will host this annual event for members interested in learning about the two hospital assessments and the quarterly HEALTHII payments. Learn why the assessments were created, which types of hospitals are exempt from the assessments, how the amounts have changed over time, why hospitals receive quarterly HEALTHII payments, HEALTHII reconciliations and HEALTHII quality metrics. AzHHA members who have not received an invitation but are interested in attending may contact Amy Upston, director of financial policy and reimbursement, at [email protected].

Feb 23 and March 2 - AzCHER Radiation Surge Annex Training and Tabletop Exercise

AzHHA’s Arizona Coalition for Healthcare Emergency Response (AzCHER) team will conduct a Radiological Surge Response Training and an HSEEP-compliant tabletop exercise to train and test key elements within the Radiation Surge Annex. Completion of either format will leave you with a better overall understanding of the response to an incident involving radiological materials, the Radiation Surge Annex and how to implement it into your agency’s emergency response plans. Participants may choose to join either our virtual or in-person option.

Feb. 23 – register for the in-person session │ March 2 – register for the virtual session

March 23 – Save the Date: AzCHER Annual Conference

Join us for our third AzCHER Annual Conference at the Arizona Broadway Theatre, Thursday, March 23, 2023. Our theme “Safety, Security and Situational Awareness” promises a great opportunity to learn, network and collaborate. More information regarding the conference and registration will be available soon. 

May 2 – Save the Date: HEOA Collaborative Conference

AzHHA’s Care Improvement team is planning its first Health Equity Organizational Assessment (HEOA) Collaborative Conference on May 2, 2023, to celebrate the efforts and successes of the HEOA Collaborative members. This interactive conference will give attendees the opportunity to share accomplishments, processes, stories, lessons learned and garner inspiration to continue the journey of health equity.


2023 forecast: How rural hospitals will try to stay afloat (


Biden team eyes end of Covid emergency declaration and shift in Covid team - POLITICO


AHA 'disappointed' as 340B case returns to HHS (