Skip navigation

Connection newsletter 3-14-24

In this issue, read about HB2035 clearing its first hurdle in the Senate, the Healthcare Leadership Academy launch, AHCCCS renewal updates and more. 




In this issue, read about: HB2035 clearing its first hurdle in the Senate. Healthcare Leadership Aca

‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) Banner

Connection Newsletter

By AzHHA CommunicationsMar 14, 2024

Smart Brevity® count: 6 mins...1646 words

In this issue, read about:

  • HB2035 clearing its first hurdle in the Senate.
  • Healthcare Leadership Academy launch.
  • AHCCCS renewal updates.

Legislative update: Affordable housing, border security and psychedelic therapy

Jackie Lundblad, Wickenburg Community Hospital

We are 67 days into session and much of the news down at the Capitol is around affordable housing and border security. We have seen three bills passed out of both chambers, one bill vetoed and two bills signed into law.

Both Senate and House Health and Human Services committees met this week. The House Health and Human Services Committee went long into the night with over two hours of testimony heard for SB1570, a bill that looks to allow the Department of Health Services to license psychedelic-assisted therapy centers and establish an Arizona Psilocybin Advisory Board.

  • For anyone who asked themselves “What is Psilocybin?”, you are not alone.
  • It is a type of psychedelic mushroom that is consumed for hallucinogenic effects and has become most popular recently in its use to help with treatment for PTSD.

Back to our priorities

HB2035 was heard in Senate Health and Human Services Committee this past Tuesday, March 12, 2024.

  • We had several members show up to provide testimony on why this bill is important to the healthcare community and the patients you serve.

A special thanks to the following individuals who made the trip and spoke in front of the committee:

  • Neal Jensen, AzHHA Board chair and CEO of Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center
  • Frank Stapleton, chief clinical operations officer at Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center
  • Julia Strange, vice president of external affairs and brand at Tucson Medical Center
  • Brett Lee, chief administrative officer, Northwest Medical Center Sahuarita and Houghton
  • Jackie Lundblad, CEO of Wickenburg Community Hospital

And because of the hard work of our members, the bill passed out of Senate Health and Human Services Committee unanimously 5-0.

  • Next up is the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will be on the committee agenda for next Tuesday, March 19, 2024 at 2 p.m.
  • More information to come!

Healthcare Leadership Academy launches today

The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Foundation, in collaboration with Creighton University, is launching the Healthcare Leadership Academy today, Thursday, March 14, 2024. This partnership aims to develop future healthcare leaders, targeting healthcare administrators, clinical leaders and faculty members.

  • The program intends to equip participants with essential skills to navigate the complex healthcare landscape effectively.
  • Utilizing a blend of virtual and self-paced modules, including immersive experiences like "Friday Night at the ER – Systems Thinking Simulation," the curriculum covers key areas such as healthcare strategy, quality improvement and finance. Impact stories from participants like Lori Ray, a chief nursing officer, highlight the program's value in enhancing leadership skills in an evolving healthcare environment.
  • The nine-month program, starting in March 2024 and ending in November 2024, incorporates both in-person and virtual sessions, accommodating busy professionals.
  • While a bachelor's degree is required for graduate credit hours, there are no minimum educational background requirements.
  • The initiative reflects AzHHA's commitment to fostering healthcare leadership in Arizona, supported by Creighton University's renowned faculty and curriculum.

Go deeper: Learn more about the program.


AzHHA seeks assistance from DIFI after cyberattack

AzHHA sent a letter to the Arizona Department of Insurance and Financial Institutions (DIFI) seeking assistance in mitigating the fallout from the recent cyberattack on Change Healthcare. Some highlights:

  • Hospitals face disruptions in patient care and claim processing as well as financial impacts.
  • AzHHA urges regulatory intervention to ensure payor support, extend claim filing deadlines and provide transparency on the cyberattack's effects.
  • AzHHA requests regulatory oversight and timeline extensions to alleviate provider burden during this crisis.

Go deeper: The American Hospital Association (AHA) shared the following resources this week related to the cyberattack:


Deadline looms for Naloxone Distribution Program participation


The Naloxone Distribution Program deadline is Monday, April 1, 2024.

What’s new: Hospitals with an emergency department are eligible for a Naloxone Distribution Program (NDP) Differential Adjusted Payment (DAP) in the Contract Year ending 2025 (Oct. 1, 2024-Sept. 30, 2025).

Why it matters: Hospitals that participate will receive an additional 0.5% increase on all Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) inpatient and outpatient payments during that time and freestanding emergency departments will receive a 5.0% increase.

For questions, please contact Amy Upston, director of financial policy and reimbursement at [email protected].


AzHHA submits comment letter on hospital assessment and HEALTHII payments

What’s new: Last week, AzHHA submitted comments on the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System’s (AHCCCS) proposed model for the Federal Fiscal Year 2025 (Oct. 1, 2024- Sept. 30, 2025) hospital assessments and HEALTHII payments.

Why it matters: There are two hospital assessments in Arizona, totaling approximately $1.2 billion annually. The assessments pay for certain expansions of Medicaid services to certain populations and allow hospitals to receive directed payments called HEALTHII.

AzHHA provided suggested improvements to AHCCCS’ current model including:

  • Recommended rebasing from 2021 to 2022 data to more accurately reflect the post-pandemic environment and increase HEALTHII payments.
  • Postpone pay-for-performance metrics since hospitals were not given sufficient time to make positive impacts.
  • Lower the amount tied to HEALTHII quality metrics.
  • Create a workgroup focusing on quality metrics and develop a long-term strategic plan.

📉 AHCCCS disenrollment and renewal updates

What’s new: As of the beginning of March, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) has disenrolled 431,623 from AHCCCS, 20% of those whose eligibility is being determined.

  • Another 1.7 million (67%) have had their renewals approved, and 325,294 are in the process of being renewed.

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.
  • Thereafter, AHCCCS will continue renewals for all AHCCCS recipients on an annual basis.

👉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.


Arizona Transition to Practice Program: Apply now for the June 2024 cohort!


Applications are now open for the second Arizona Transition to Practice Program for New Graduate Registered Nurses cohort beginning in June 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: The Arizona Transition to Practice Program:

  • Supports and develops new nurses.
  • Provides evidence-based professional development.
  • Accelerates the novice nurse to a competent nurse more rapidly.
  • Addresses resilience and emergency preparedness.

👉Apply now! Applications are due Friday, April 12, 2024.


🔥 Maricopa County's record heat deaths in 2023

Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) released two key reports: a preliminary review of heat-related deaths in 2023 and a cooling center evaluation.

  • The findings reveal a record-breaking 645 heat-associated deaths in 2023, emphasizing vulnerable populations such as the elderly and homeless. MCDPH's evaluation highlights the need for improved awareness and accessibility of cooling centers.
  • To address these challenges, MCDPH is implementing strategies including a bilingual heat relief call center, signage for heat relief locations and supplying resources to smaller cooling centers.
  • Collaboration from individuals, organizations and municipalities is crucial to mitigate heat-related deaths.
  • Residents are encouraged to check on vulnerable individuals, volunteer and donate heat relief supplies.

Go deeper: Further information is available on and



Monday, March 18 - Health Workforce Well-Being Day
In pursuit of improved health workforce well-being and patient care outcomes, the NAM Collaborative and founding partners—including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation—have established March 18 as the annual, national Health Workforce Well-Being (HWWB) Day. Learn more.

April 4-5 - 2024 Arizona Healthcare Workforce Summit
Join the Second Annual Arizona Healthcare Workforce Summit and support statewide healthcare workforce collaboration. With an influx of funding to address statewide healthcare workforce development and many initiatives underway, the Summit will facilitate strategic collaboration and maximize our collective awareness and impact. Learn more and register.

April 11, 16 and 18 - COPD Educator Course
This course, offered by the American Lung Association, will include practical information healthcare professionals can use in their work to provide guidelines-based care and help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) understand how to manage their disease. See additional details and register now.

Thursday, May 30 - Introduction 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. Register here.



Share your feedback! Email [email protected].