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Connection Newsletter - ADHS extends comment period on EMCT scope of practice

Comments may be submitted on the ADHS website by August 8.

COVID-19 data

The week ending July 25 showed an increasing rate of COVID-19 cases in Arizona for a seventh consecutive week according to a report by Joe Gerald, MD, Ph.D., researcher at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. At 141 cases per 100K residents, Arizona ranks 17 among the 50 states with Louisiana, Florida, Arkansas and Mississippi are currently leading. In Maricopa County alone, 14% positivity has been reported in recent weeks.

Vaccination continues to be the best way to slow the transmission of the virus and prevent individuals from getting seriously if COVID-19 is contracted. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated may find a vaccination site at

ADHS extends comment period on EMCT scope of practice

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) announced Monday the extended comment period for the emergency medical care technician (EMCT) draft rules. In the posted draft rules, ADHS has specified an EMCT’s scope of practice in Table 5.1. to be more consistent with national standards. Comments may be submitted on the ADHS website by August 8.

In addition to soliciting comments on EMCT Scope of Practice draft rules, ADHS continues to provide updates on EMS Ground Ambulance and EMS Air Ambulance draft rules for review.

CMS issues hospital IPPS final rule for FY 2022

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule August 2 that increases Medicare inpatient prospective payment system rates by a net 2.5% in fiscal year (FY) 2022, compared to FY 2021, for hospitals that are meaningful users of electronic health records and submit quality measure data. Additionally, the rule repeals the requirement to report certain payer-negotiated rates and makes changes to quality measurement and value programs.

CMS finalized its repeal of the requirement that hospitals report their median payer-specific negotiated rates for inpatient services, by Medicare Severity (MS)-Diagnosis Related Group (DRG), for Medicare Advantage organizations. It also repealed the market-based MS-DRG relative weight methodology initially planned to be implemented in FY 2024.

The agency also finalized its proposal that the New COVID-19 Treatments Add-on Payment be extended for eligible COVID-19 products through the end of the fiscal year in which the public health emergency (PHE) ends.

Lastly, CMS adopted several changes to its quality reporting and value programs in response to the pandemic. Beginning on October 1, hospitals must report a new inpatient quality reporting program measure reflecting the proportion of their health care personnel vaccinated for COVID-19. To account for the impact of the COVID-19 PHE on quality performance, CMS finalized a measure suppression policy under which CMS can “suppress” measure data it believes have been affected by COVID-19 in calculating hospital performance. CMS will suppress most hospital value-based purchasing (VBP) program measures for FY 2022. As a result, hospitals will receive neutral payment adjustments under the VBP for FY 2022. CMS will exclude performance data from 2020 in calculating Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program performance for FY 2022 and 2023. For the FY 2023 Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, CMS will suppress the pneumonia readmissions measure, and exclude COVID-19-diagnosed patients from the remaining five measures.

ARPA funds to address burnout among health workforce

The U.S. Health and Human Services is allocating roughly $103 million from the American Rescue Plan Act over three years to reduce employee burnout and promote mental health among the healthcare workforce. Healthcare providers face many challenges and stresses which have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding of new programs will support the implementation of evidence-informed strategies to help organizations and providers respond to stressful situations, endure hardships, avoid burnout and foster healthy workplace environments that promote mental health and resiliency. To apply for the Provider Resiliency Workforce Training Notice of Funding Opportunities, visit Applications are due August 30.

Attend one of our upcoming Introduction to POLST workshops. Register at no cost

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 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.


Upcoming Events

August 17 – Silent Retreat (virtual): Mindfully Navigating the Post-Pandemic Landscape

Experience the joy of honoring who you are, where you have been and where you want to go post-pandemic based on your personal experiences, strengths and your desire to live every day on purpose. Give yourself the gift of silence and reflection through this virtual retreat led by the Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience at Arizona State University and the Pruitt Center for Mindfulness & Well-Being at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Register here.

August 26 - 2021 Arizona Public Health Conference

Get the latest updates from county health officials about their post-pandemic workforce needs and hear from the state and regional Area Health Education Centers as they develop plans to meet Arizona’s post-pandemic public health and healthcare system needs. Register here.

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