AzHHA urges OSHA to not finalize its interim final rule being that the rule will not provide any additional benefit beyond what hospitals have already done, and continue to do.
Action continues to be slow in both Chambers, although we are well past the 100-day recommended length for legislative session with no end in sight. The House gaveled in on Monday and Wednesday, and the Senate worked each day, but agendas have generally been short—typically fewer than ten bills are considered, often fewer than five. No additional announcements have been made regarding the budget, and rumors abound about when we might see a negotiated agreement. One persistent rumor is that this may be the year for a bipartisan agreement. This would be quite an accomplishment as the last five budgets have been passed with only majority votes.
As expected, Governor Doug Ducey signed two controversial COVID-19-related bills this week. HB2616 and HB2498 both restrict the ability of governmental entities to require mitigation measures, the former on masks for minors and the latter on vaccines. These are just two of the many, many pieces of legislation related to COVID-19 this year, and we expect additional measures will be sent to Governor Ducey’s desk before we adjourn sine die this year.
AzHHA submits comments to OSHA on its ETS interim final rule
On behalf of its members, AzHHA submitted comments to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on its COVID-19 healthcare emergency temporary standard (ETS), interim final rule last week. In its comments, AzHHA expressed concern about how the Agency's ETS is inconsistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance and recommendations. AzHHA also commented on how all Arizona hospitals are now fully in compliance with the COVID-19 vaccination requirement as well as how hospitals are already taking the necessary steps to protect their employees from COIVD-19 hazards. Ultimately, AzHHA urged OSHA to not finalize its interim final rule being that the rule will not provide any additional benefit beyond what hospitals have already done, and continue to do, to protect their workforce throughout the pandemic and beyond.
AzHHA releases DataGen reports
In relationship with DataGen, AzHHA distributes reports to hospitals based on information submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This data can help hospitals understand the financial impact of proposed changes and annual updates. The reports can also assist in preparing budgets or benchmarking results with other similar organizations. DataGen generates hospital-specific reports which are sent to AzHHA hospital members as part of their membership. Below is the list of reports recently sent to members.
- Outpatient prospective payment emergency department and observation utilization analysis - sent 4/5/2022
- Federal fiscal year 2023 inpatient psychiatric facility proposed rule - sent 4/11/2022
- Federal fiscal year 2023 inpatient rehabilitation facility proposed rule - sent 4/19/2022
Biden Administration seeks to double the number of Test to Treat sites
In efforts to double the number of participating COVID-19 Test to Treat facilities to 40,000, the Biden Administration will allow all pharmacies in the federal pharmacy program to order free oral antiviral treatments directly from the federal government. The Test to Treat locations will offer authorized Pfizer and Merck pills which will still be available through state or territorial health departments. The Administration said it is working to improve the Test-to-Treat patient experience, including through telehealth options; and to provide more guidance on COVID-19 treatments to prescribers and clinicians.
CDC alerts providers of hepatitis cases of unknown origin
In a national health alert, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notified public health authorities and clinicians about a cluster of children identified with hepatitis and adenovirus infection. In the alert, providers were asked to be attentive to symptoms and to report suspected cases of hepatitis of unknown origin to their local and state health departments. The CDC is working with the Alabama Department of Public Health to investigate a cluster of nine cases of hepatitis of unknown origin in children ranging in age from 1 to 6 years old.
FDA seeks comments on new risk reduction strategy for outpatient opioid dispensing
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will seek comments through June 21 on a potential change that would require outpatient settings to dispense opioid pain medications with prepaid mail-back envelopes and pharmacists to provide patient education on safe disposal of opioids. According to the FDA. “Such a requirement could reduce the amount of unused opioid analgesics in patients’ homes, thereby reducing opportunities for nonmedical use, accidental exposure, and overdose, and possibly reducing the development of new opioid addiction.” Comments may be submitted electronically at regulations.gov once the docket for public comment is established under docket number FDA–2022–N–0165.
Calling all rural hospitals - Join the Arizona Health Equity Organizational Assessment Collaborative
AzHHA has teamed up with key stakeholders statewide to reduce healthcare disparities in rural Arizona. We invite rural hospitals, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and post-acute care facilities to be a part of this exciting initiative called the Arizona Health Equity Organizational Assessment (HEOA) Collaborative.
As we work through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in our communities—and with our healthcare workforce—the HEOA Collaborative will focus on incorporating an equity lens for quality, patient safety and population health to improve the patient experience and health outcomes for people experiencing various health conditions, such as COVID-19.
Participating facilities will have access to monthly collaboration calls to hear about new resources and share best practices. Facilities will also receive technical assistance to implement tools and processes identified by the HEOA Collaborative. Learn more about the program and download the enrollment forms at azhha.org/AzHEOA.
COVID-19 supportive care
AzHHA’s COVID-19 Supportive Care program offers palliative care telehealth services to patients with acute or chronic COVID-19 symptoms and related complications at no cost to the patient. The service is open to people suffering from the complexities of COVID-19 related symptoms, or those chronic conditions exacerbated by COVID-19. Patients do not need a physician’s referral to receive this specialized, palliative care. Learn more at azhha.org/telehealth.
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.
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.
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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