Skip navigation

Connection newsletter 12-14-23

Read about AzHHA's comments on HEALTHII quality metrics, a House bill that passed with a site-neutral payment cut, and HHS' cybersecurity strategy.



Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) Banner

Connection Newsletter

By AzHHA Communications ● Dec. 14, 2023

Smart Brevity® count: 5.5 mins...1461 words

This week, read about:

  • AzHHA’s comments on HEALTHII quality metrics.
  • A House bill that passed with site-neutral payment cuts.
  • HHS’ cybersecurity strategy.

AzHHA submits comments on HEALTHII quality metrics

Animated GIF of two hospitals merging, with a dollar sign appearing in between them

What’s new: On Friday, Dec. 8, AzHHA submitted a comment letter to AHCCCS on proposed Federal Fiscal Year 2025 (10/1/24-9/30/25) HEALTHII payments tied to quality payments.

Why it matters: AHCCCS is proposing to tie approximately $330 million in hospital supplemental HEALTHII payments to quality metrics for the next fiscal year. Hospitals which did not achieve certain metrics will not be eligible for that portion of the payment.

AzHHA expressed concerns about AHCCCS’ current proposal. Recommendations included:

  • AHCCCS should provide enough notice to make positive impacts between the baseline year and the performance year.
  • A data validation pilot program should be adopted with data submitted for the first two years, and AHCCCS should not move forward to pay for performance until AHCCCS and hospitals have had sufficient time to validate data and ensure meaningful results.
  • AHCCCS should significantly reduce the amount of HEALTHII payments tied to quality metrics.
  • AzHHA reiterates the need for an on-going quality group, comprised of quality experts from the healthcare delivery system which would help develop a long-term strategic plan.

What’s next: AHCCCS will hold a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 19 to discuss feedback. If you are interested in attending but did not receive an invitation, please contact Amy Upston.


House passes bill with site-neutral payment cut

Our Nation’s Capital

On Monday, Dec. 11, the House voted 320-71 to pass H.R. 5378.

Why it matters: The legislation would:

  • Delay a Friday, Jan. 19 payment reduction to Medicaid disproportionate share hospitals for two years.
  • Permanently reduce Medicare payments for drug administration services in off-campus hospital outpatient departments.

The bill also codifies the Hospital Price Transparency Rule but makes key changes, including no longer allowing the use of price estimator tools to meet the shoppable services requirement and increasing civil monetary penalties for noncompliance.


HHS releases strategy on cybersecurity

Animated illustration of a health cross with 0s and 1s running across, some sequences are highlighted as malware.

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a concept paper outlining the cybersecurity strategy for the healthcare sector.

Why it matters: The paper calls for:

  • Proposing new cybersecurity requirements for hospitals through Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Publishing voluntary healthcare-specific cybersecurity performance goals.
  • Working with Congress to develop funding and incentives for domestic hospitals to improve cybersecurity.
  • Developing enforceable cybersecurity standards.
  • Strengthening the coordination role of HHS Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response as a “one-stop shop” for healthcare cybersecurity.

Go deeper: Read the HHS concept paper for additional details.


The latest: AHCCCS renewals

What’s new: As of the beginning of December, AHCCCS has disenrolled 431,623 from AHCCCS, 17% of those whose eligibility is being determined.

  • Another 1,264,596 (50%) have had their renewals approved, and 398,177 are in the process of being renewed.
  • The remainder will be going through the renewal process in the next several months.

Why it matters: From April 2023 through March 2024, AHCCCS will re-determine every member’s eligibility. Those members who are determined to be ineligible, either because their incomes are too high or a lack of response to requests to update information, will be disenrolled.

👉Anyone who has been notified that they were disenrolled for procedural reasons has 90 days to submit a renewal form that can restore their coverage without filling out a new application.

Help spread the word about the renewal process.

  • Use the messaging toolkits AHCCCS has developed to build awareness of the regular renewal process.
  • A chatbot is also available to help members update their information in less than three minutes, on average. The chatbot can be found on the Medicaid eligibility website.

🚨Apply now for the Arizona Transition to Practice Program!

Applications are now open for the first Arizona Transition to Practice Program for New Graduate Registered Nurses cohort beginning in March 2024.

  • Any Arizona healthcare facility licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services that hires new graduate registered nurses can apply.
  • Priority will be given to critical access hospitals or hospitals located in counties with a population of less than 500,000 people.
  • Hospitals with existing 12-month Transition to Practice programs are not eligible.

Why it matters: With this program, we aspire to create an environment where our nurses can transition seamlessly from academia to practice, gaining confidence and competence they need to provide the best possible quality care to our communities.

The bottom line: The Arizona Transition to Practice Program will:

  • Support and develop new nurses.
  • Provide evidence-based professional development.
  • Accelerate the novice nurse to a competent nurse more rapidly.
  • Address resilience and emergency preparedness.

Apply now! Applications are due Friday, Jan. 12, 2024. Already applied? The Arizona Transition to Practice Program team will reach out to you soon.


AzHHA Foundation renews partnership with Joint Commission Resources

The AzHHA Foundation recently renewed its agreement with Joint Commission Resources (JCR) to provide Continuous Service Readiness (CSR) education to hospitals that are Joint Commission-accredited.

Why it matters: The purpose of CSR conferences is to assist contracted hospitals with improving the quality of care and to establish a continuous state of readiness for a Joint Commission survey.

  • Conferences are held twice per year at the AzHHA office.
  • To participate in these educational events, hospitals must have a current contract with JCR.
  • To get connected with a JCR representative, email AzHHA’s Member Services team at [email protected].

Educational videos available: Advance care planning

AzHHA is proud to share recently recorded educational videos to support advance care planning in your facility:

  • An Introduction to POLST (portable medical orders)
  • Advance Care Planning and Arizona Healthcare Directives Registry (an overview)

The big picture: The content in the videos will be most beneficial for hospital staff involved in the referral, completion or collection process of advance care planning documents (registration staff, nurses, social workers and related roles).

Dig deeper: The videos are available on the AzHHA YouTube channel.


Reminder: HEALTHII quality metrics due Tuesday, Jan. 2

HEALTHII quality metrics for year 3 are due by Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024.

  • The portal is open for measure submissions from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. (MST) daily.
  • The portal can be accessed at
  • The User Manual and Technical Guidance Report are available in the portal under “Help” on the left panel.

Why it matters: Up to $330 million in hospital supplemental HEALTHII payments are tied to quality metrics for next fiscal year, with some tied to reporting, and others to reporting and performance. Hospitals which do not report metrics will not be eligible for that portion of the payment.

Please direct any self-reporting questions or issues to HealthTech at: [email protected].


CDC issues Health Alert Network advisory

On Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Health Alert Network Health Advisory about an outbreak of Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) among people in the United States with recent travel to or residence in the city of Tecate, state of Baja California, Mexico.

Why it matters: RMSF is a severe, rapidly progressive and often deadly disease transmitted by the bite of infected ticks, although many patients do not recall being bitten by a tick.

  • RMSF is a rapidly progressive disease and without early administration of doxycycline can be fatal within days.

The bottom line: The CDC has resources and additional information available including:



Wednesday, Jan. 10 - 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].

Jan. 23, 24 and 30 - Crisis Standards of Care tabletop exercise
AzCHER will conduct three tabletop exercises that will address Crisis Standards of Care in Arizona. Each exercise will discuss the same emergency scenario. Sessions will be held in Phoenix, Tucson and virtually. Learn more and register.

Tuesday, Feb. 6 - Arizona Rural and Public Health Policy Forum 2024
Each year, this forum focuses on issues of the day that are affecting the health of rural Arizonans. The event will be held at the Virginia G. Piper Auditorium located at 600 E. Van Buren Street in Phoenix. Register now.




Send your feedback to [email protected].