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Connection Newsletter - 2021 year in review

The annual report details our work to secure hospital payment increases of $1.4 billion, pursue legislation to protect Arizona hospitals and develop grant-funded programs to serve emergency preparedness needs along with patient safety and quality programs.

2021 year in review 

AzHHA released its 2021 Annual Report this week, reflecting on the work we have done with our members to improve the health and wellness of Arizonans. “We are your advocates for sound health policy giving Arizona hospitals a voice to build better healthcare and health for our communities,” said Ann-Marie Alameddin, president and CEO of AzHHA. The annual report details our work to secure hospital payment increases of $1.4 billion, pursue legislation to protect Arizona hospitals and develop grant-funded programs to serve emergency preparedness needs along with patient safety and quality programs. “While we celebrate the “wins” of 2021, we know there is a lot of work ahead,” said Alameddin. “AzHHA remains focused on helping you find solutions for staffing shortages and workforce resiliency.” Download your copy of the 2021 Annual Report here.

Federal courts place all federal vaccine mandates on hold

Several important decisions have been issued by federal courts with the ultimate effect that all federal mandates potentially applicable to healthcare employers are now temporarily on hold but will undoubtedly continue to be appealed.

Last week’s nationwide injunction issued by a U.S. district court in Louisiana that prevents the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from enforcing its vaccine mandate for healthcare workers has been appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to decide soon whether it will uphold the injunction.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's emergency temporary standard vaccine mandate that applies to employers with at least 100 employees was also temporarily stayed nationwide. The Biden Administration is now requesting that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals lift the stay. On Tuesday, enforcement of the vaccine mandate on federal contractors and subcontractors was halted nationwide by a U.S. district court in Georgia.

House passes bill to provide relief from looming Medicare cuts

The House on Tuesday voted 222-212 to pass a legislative package that would provide relief from looming Medicare cuts to hospitals. The bill would prevent for three months the 2% Medicare sequester cuts that are scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2022. The Medicare sequester cuts would then be reduced from 2% to 1% from April 1, 2022 through June 30, 2022. The package also would stop the 4% Statutory Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) sequester from taking effect early next year. Without congressional action, hospitals would see $9.4 billion in Medicare cuts in 2022. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill this week.

Almost No Vacancy at Arizona State Legislature

We are nearing the 30-day countdown until the legislative session convenes on January 10, 2022. AzHHA extends a warm welcome to the plethora of new legislators who will begin their service, either in a new chamber or a new role, as session convenes. We’re down to just one vacancy yet to be filled—that of a representative from LD27 created when Representative Diego Rodriguez (D) resigned to focus on his run for Arizona Attorney General. You may find the names of all the new legislators below. From a public health and healthcare perspective, we also have slightly altered membership on the Health and Human Services Committees in both chambers—these are the committees that hear most of the legislation affecting hospitals and healthcare. You can find the new Committee rosters on the AZ Legislature website here under “Committees.”

Monoclonal antibody combo is authorized by FDA to treat children

The U.S Food & Drug Administration on December 3 announced the expanded authorization of two monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of COVID-19 among pediatric patients. Bamlanivimab and etesivimab administered together were authorized in February for pediatric patients 12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kilograms, or about 88 pounds. Friday’s announcement expands the emergency use authorization EUA to allow the antibody combo to be used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in all younger pediatric patients, including newborns, who have a positive COVID-19 test and are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19. The update to the EUA also authorizes bamlanivimab and etesevimab, to be administered together, for post-exposure prophylaxis for prevention of COVID-19 in all pediatric patients. Fact sheets for parents and caregivers as well as for providers have been updated.

Calling All Arizona HIE Participants – Take the Health Current Survey Today

Health Current, Arizona’s Health Information Exchange (HIE), is conducting its annual survey of healthcare organizations that participate in the HIE. If your organization actively uses the HIE to access critical real-time patient data in your healthcare setting, Health Current wants to hear from you.

The survey represents an opportunity for you to impact the future of the Arizona HIE, and by doing so, improve how the HIE can better meet your organization’s needs. To provide valuable input on your level of satisfaction with HIE services, click here.

If your organization is not already connected to the Arizona HIE, contact Health Current at 602-688-7216 or [email protected]. Learn more at

COVID-19 update

As Arizona continues to battle the Delta variant the concern of Omicron rises. The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 3,506 new cases on Wednesday morning and unfortunately 18 deaths. With flu season among us and the holidays approaching we must take the necessary steps to protect ourselves, our loved ones and help reduce the strain the pandemic is causing among healthcare staff and within hospitals. Get vaccinated. Wear a mask. Stay home if you are feeling sick.

Upcoming Events

December 15 - 2021 Coding Clinic: Fourth Quarter Updates

AzHHA Affiliated Partner, NJHA Healthcare Business Solutions, is offering member health information managers and coding specialists 2021 Coding Clinic Updates - Everything You Really Need to Know. The webinar provides a concise overview of the current issue of Coding Clinic and allows participants an opportunity for discussion and Q&A. Register here.

February 7 - Developing a Telemedicine Program

This course is ideal for individuals or groups who have some telehealth experience and are interested in expanding their services. It is also a great course for those new to telehealth who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the growing industry. The course fee is waived for Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Nevada residents. Register here.

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. To register for a workshop, click on a date below.

In the News

Experts fear a bad flu season on top of COVID

First studies suggest Omicron can evade vaccine protection, boosters needed

Halt to Jab Mandate Gives Hospitals Breather—But Just a Bit
Bloomberg Law

Phoenix pauses vaccine mandate for employees, citing halt to federal order, as protesters take to streets
Arizona Republic

Vaccine Rule for Federal Contractors Blocked
U.S. News & World Report

5 states set COVID-19 records this week
Becker’s Hospital Review