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Connection Newsletter - AHCCCS: Planning for the end of the public health emergency

AHCCCS will reinstate many of the standard member and provider processes.

Legislative update

We have reached day 115 of the legislative session, and both Chambers are only meeting a few days each week as budget negotiations continue behind the scenes. Sending to Governor Doug Ducey’s desk has slowed as well—there are currently only seven measures awaiting signature. No bills have been vetoed to date. Governor Ducey did sign one impactful bill this week, delivering on a promise made in his final State of the State to expand the I-10 between Chandler and Casa Grande. The measure, championed by Senator TJ Shope, invests $400 million in state resources to draw down significant federal resources and ensure the entire project is completed together, rather than in phases. Moving forward, each Chamber will have to vote to continue to extend the legislative session by a majority vote once a week until they can complete their budget negotiation and wrap up legislating. We are also less than 90 days from the upcoming primary election on August 2. For every sitting legislator who has a primary challenge on their hands, tension will begin to escalate as they watch the calendar closely so begin fundraising and campaigning can begin.

AHCCCS - Planning for the end of the public health emergency

Once the COVID-19 federal public health emergency ends, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) will reinstate many of the standard member and provider processes it has suspended for the last two years. Some waived provider enrollment screening requirements were reinstated April 24 including provider enrollment fees, site visits and fingerprint criminal background checks for “high” and “moderate” risk providers.

In addition, the agency is focusing its efforts to ensure that individuals do not experience a gap in healthcare coverage by ensuring beneficiaries who will no longer be eligible for AHCCCS prepare accordingly. Community assistor organizations may use the resources on AHCCCS’ Return to Normal Renewals web page.

AHRQ seeks public comment on potential new patient experience survey

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is seeking comments regarding a potential Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and System (CAHPS) survey for Inpatient Mental Healthcare settings. Specifically, AHRQ seeks comments on the methodologically sound survey, data collection approaches and any unique considerations or concerns associated with the collection and use of these data. Comments may be submitted on the Federal Registrar’s site by July 1.

Counterfeit over the counter COVID-19 tests

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it is aware of counterfeit at-home over the counter (OTC) COVID-19 diagnostic tests being distributed or used in the United States. Two unauthorized tests are made to look like authorized iHealth and Flowflex tests. The agency launched a website listing known counterfeit tests and plans to update the page as needed to alert healthcare providers, distributors and the public to counterfeit tests.

CDC issues avian flu recommendations for clinicians

The first human case of H5N1 bird flu was confirmed in Colorado on April 28 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to CDC, the public remains at low risk for avian flu, but people who have job-related or recreational exposures to infected birds should take appropriate precautions. The agency recommends clinicians consider the possibility of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) virus infection in persons showing signs or symptoms of respiratory illness who have relevant exposure history. This includes persons who have had contact with potentially infected birds. Symptoms can range from mild to moderate illness (upper or lower respiratory symptoms, fatigue, myalgias, conjunctivitis, altered mental status) with the potential for progression to acute respiratory failure, meningoencephalitis, or multi-organ failure. Clinicians should contact their county health department to arrange testing for influenza A(H5N1) virus, collect respiratory specimens using personal protective equipment, consider starting empiric antiviral treatment and encourage the patient to isolate at home.


Upcoming Events

May 7 - Communication in Serious Illness Workshop

The objectives for this 2.5-hour didactic session are to review the need for a systematic approach to having more, better and earlier conversations about patient values and priorities in serious illness, defining a population with serious illness for whom improved communication holds many benefits, applying a structured communication tool to facilitate communication with patients with serious illness, and reviewing the value of summarizing, follow up and documentation. Learn more and 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.

June 14 – Annual Arizona Rural Health Conference

For the past 47 years, the Arizona Center for Rural Health has hosted the Annual Arizona Rural Health Conference in collaboration with the Arizona Rural Health Association, making it one of the longest continually running rural health conferences in the United States. The Arizona Rural Health Conference provides an environment for networking and dissemination of pertinent information among professionals and community members from rural Arizona and the Southwest. Register here.

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