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

Read about this week’s legislative recap, continued financial challenges for Arizona hospitals and our new endorsed vendor, careLearning

Legislative Update – week eight

Committees did not meet again this week as both chambers spent their time focused on floor action. Things slowed down significantly on Tuesday afternoon, as the House Democratic caucus expressed their concern regarding the process by which Democratic-sponsored legislation may be moved to the floor for a final vote. The House continued work Wednesday on Committees of the Whole, but it remains unclear how many bills may move to a full floor vote if the Democratic caucus continues to withhold their support for all bills until the process changes. The Senate cleared quite a few bills this week and sent them over to the House to begin the process all over again before the next deadline of March 24 when bills must be heard in committee in their opposite chamber. 

In exciting news, AzHHA’s top priority bill on health plan accountability (HB2290) was given a ‘do-pass’ recommendation by the Committee of the Whole in the House on Wednesday afternoon. The next step is for a final vote, also known as third reading. That will likely take place soon as soon as the majority and minority work out a path forward for bills in the House. 

AzHHA releases 2022 Q4 Quarterly Financial Analysis

On Friday, AzHHA published its Quarterly Financial Analysis for the final quarter of 2022 which shows continued challenges for Arizona hospitals. Overall, AzHHA hospitals reported negative margins in all four quarters of 2022, with (0.5)% for the final quarter. This is similar to what is happening nationally, with negative margins being driven by large increases in expenses. While 2022 was challenging for many hospitals, health plans ended the year with healthy profits, including $20.6 billion for UnitedHealth Group which is up 16.4% from one year earlier.   

Payments for contractual labor finally leveled off from the prior quarter, but they were still up 77% from the first quarter of 2022. Meanwhile outpatient volume increased by 2% from the same time a year ago with hospital emergency department visits up 5%. 

New endorsed vendor for online learning management system

AzHHA is excited to welcome our newest Affiliated Partner offering members a full-service Learning Management System (LMS) that includes a robust catalog of compliance and regulatory courses. careLearning is a nonprofit organization created nearly 25 years ago by a consortium of hospital associations to meet member education needs and has grown to serve medical facilities across the country. careLearning was recently endorsed by the Affiliated Partners Program board of directors as a preferred vendor. In addition to the LMS and its included content, they provide a full course catalog for healthcare, custom course development, a course sharing library, an employee performance and competency management platform, continuing education content, and dedicated training and technical support. For more information, email AzHHA’s Vice President of Member Services, Laura Dickscheid, at [email protected].

Member Spotlight: Valleywise Health begins countdown to opening of new medical center in 2023

After officially breaking ground on the brand new 673,000 square-foot, 10-story Valleywise Health Medical Center on February 26, 2020, the public teaching health system is proud to announce the countdown to the grand opening in October of 2023. The new medical center will replace the more than 50-year-old facility Valleywise Health is currently operating in at 24th Street and Roosevelt. The new 75,000 square-foot Diane & Bruce Halle Arizona Burn Center will continue Valleywise Health’s long history of treating some of the most complex and traumatic burn and wound cases in the Southwest, and The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Pavilion will serve as a hub for teaching, administrative services and community meeting space. For more information on Valleywise Health, its expanded network, available services and more, visit   

AHCCCS adds Community Health Worker services as Medicaid service

AHCCCS received federal authority to reimburse Community Health Workers (CHWs) for services provided to Medicaid members. CHWs are an integral and essential part of the healthcare delivery system, often at the front lines of the intersection between communities and healthcare providers. CHWs often are also known by other names, such as Community Health Representatives, Patient Navigator, Promotores de Salud, Community Health Advisors and Cultural Health Navigators, to name a few. In 2018 the Arizona Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, House Bill 2324, which required the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to establish qualifications, a scope of practice and core competencies for Certified CHWs. See the ADHS Community Health Workers web page.

Preventing patient falls using an evidence-based intervention may reduce costs

Implementing the AHRQ-funded Fall TIPS Program, an evidence-based fall prevention intervention, was associated with $22 million in savings at 33 medical and surgical units in eight hospitals, according to an AHRQ-supported study published in JAMA Health Forum. Researchers analyzed electronic health record data for 900,635 patients to identify the costs of fall-related adverse events on health systems. They found that the average total cost of a fall is $62,521 and that the level of injury was not a significant predictor of increased costs. After implementation of the Fall TIPS intervention, there was a nearly 20 percent reduction in falls and injuries at the study sites, and it was associated with $14,600 in net avoided costs per 1,000 patient-days. Policies to reduce all falls using evidence-based interventions could reduce the frequency of harms and associated costs. Access the abstract.

Challenges increase for providers getting reimbursed by payors

In its recently released analysis, Crowe used its Revenue Cycle Analytics net revenue software platform to analyze reimbursement disputes between payors and providers and found that “payors increasingly are forcing providers to defend the level of care they assign to patients” in addition to getting “appropriately reimbursed in a timely manner for that level of care.” Some key points include:

  • A higher percentage of denials are occurring with inpatient claims. The percentage of inpatient dollars initially denied is 18.5% higher in 2022 than it was in 2021.  
  • Medicare Advantage plans, on average, have a higher denial rate than other payors.
  • The percentage of inpatient revenues written off as not collectible skyrocketed by 64% from 2021 to 2022 – from 3.6% to 5.9%. In November 2022, write-offs for the Medicaid Advantage populations were an astounding 8.5%.  



HR Professionals: Join us for a webinar on Background Screening Challenges in 2023

As hospitals and healthcare organizations face increasing challenges in meeting workforce demands, AzHHA is working with our endorsed vendor and affiliated partner, Universal Background Screening, to bring compliance updates and useful tips to members. Join us on March 9, 2023, at 11 a.m. for a review of recent consumer reporting industry changes and regulations regarding employment background screening and drug testing.  The presentation will target healthcare facilities and will cover the following topics: 

  • Best practices for screening  
  • Increase in screening litigation and how to avoid the pitfalls
  • Increase in license fraud / Primary Source verification importance
  • Ban the Box, Fair Chance regulations and expungement / redaction of information at courts
  • Changes in THC / marijuana drug testing laws

To receive an invitation to this members-only meeting, email our Vice President of Member Services, Laura Dickscheid.

March 14 – Introduction to POLST workshops

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:

Crisis Standards of Care workshop series 

Mark your calendar starting March 21 for a series of virtual workshops focused on refining your Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) plans. Join a collaborative discussion on CSC with doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, clinical experts and other healthcare professionals during the series March 21 – April 12. 

Workshop 1: Preparing for Crisis Standards of Care
Workshop 2: Staying in Contingency
Workshop 3: Activating, Implementing & Collaborating on Crisis Standards of Care
Workshop 4: Supporting Staff and De-Activating Crisis Standards of Care

Learn more and register here.

Additional events:

March 23 – AzCHER Annual Conference

March 31 – Save the Date: Arizona Healthcare Workforce Summit

May 2 – Save the Date: Health Equity Organizational Assessment (HEOA) Collaborative Conference



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