CMS will continue to remain flexible in its approach to surveys if a hospital experiences a COVID-19 surge.
As we reach day 165 of legislative session, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. The Senate passed the nearly $13 billion budget Wednesday morning. The House was prepared to do the same until Democratic legislators walked off the House floor Tuesday thereby denying Republicans the 31 legislators physically present needed to reach a quorum and begin debate. The House is scheduled to reconvene this morning and is all but certain to pass the budget. It is less clear whether they will pass any of the remaining bills or sine die for the year.
The budget passed by the Senate includes an approximate $1.3 billion tax cut beginning tax year 2022 and will grow to approximately $1.8 per year as it is implemented over multiple years - more than $353 million for road construction and preservation and $92 million for universities.
Health-related funding components of the budget include:
$6 million GME funding continued from fiscal year 2021 – this is supposed to increase to $9M in FY23;
$2 million for medical student loan repayment;
$500,000 to implement expanded newborn screening;
$300,000 to reduce radiation control fees paid by hospitals and others using radiation-emitting devices and
$300,000 for additional high-risk perinatal visits.
Health-related policy components of the budget include:
Expanding newborn screenings.
Codifying many components of Governor Ducey’s Executive Orders, including, but not limited to:
Prohibiting state or local governments from requiring residents to receive COVID-19 vaccinations;
prohibiting state or local governments from ordering businesses to require documentation of COVID-19 and
allowing healthcare institutions to require their employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Although it is not included in the budget, the governor may use federal COVID-19 relief funding for broadband infrastructure grants.
View bill status updates by visiting azhha.org/azhha_priority_and_key_legislation.
AzCHER continues to work with incident management teams to offer assistance, resources and support with the multiple wildfires across the state
AzHHA’s Arizona Coalition for Healthcare Emergency Response – AzCHER – team is monitoring multiple Arizona wildfires and actively working with incident management teams to assist with shelter coordination and evacuations where needed. Should your team need assistance in emergency response, contact a member of the AzCHER team by emailing [email protected] or calling 602-241-6612.
COVID-19 public health workforce survey
Through the American Rescue Plan Act, the state of Arizona is being awarded public health workforce funding to establish, expand, train and sustain the state and local public health workforce to support jurisdictional COVID-19 prevention, preparedness, response and recovery initiatives. The Arizona Department of Health Services is seeking input from the public health workforce to formulate Arizona’s funding application and guide strategies for state and local work plans. The survey closes today, Thursday, June 25 at 5 p.m. Funding will be available for two years, through June 30, 2023.
ACA supreme court ruling
The United States Supreme Court issued its ruling on June 17 in California v. Texas, the case in which a coalition of states led by Texas as well as two individual plaintiffs sued the federal government to challenge the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the Supreme Court’s 7-2 opinion, Justice Breyer writing for the majority decided the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to challenge the law. As a result, the Court did not address the underlying questions of whether the ACA’s mandate is constitutional and, if not, whether the rest of the law would still stand.
Although the ACA is safe for now, the law’s constitutionality remains an open question. Future legal challenges brought by plaintiffs under different circumstances are a distinct possibility. For an analysis on the legal challenges, read AzHHA’s Affordable Care Act Litigation Update & Analysis Issue Brief.
CMS to take a flexible approach to survey process for hospitals experiencing COVID-19 surge
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a letter to the American Hospital Association on June 15 stating it will continue to remain flexible in its approach to surveys if a hospital experiences a COVID-19 surge. In evaluating whether to temporarily suspend survey activities, CMS said it will consider whether the hospital has notified the appropriate state public health agency and activated its emergency preparedness plan and the proportion of hospital staff and resources dedicated to managing COVID-19 patients. To read the CMS letter, click here.
CMS Announces $20 Million in American Rescue Plan Funding Available to Improve Access to State-based Marketplace Coverage
State-based health insurance marketplaces may apply through July 20 at 3 p.m. ET for a portion of $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding. The money will go to update systems, programs or technology to comply with federal marketplace requirements, including increased premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions available through ARPA. In an announcement dated June 21, CMS states it expects to award up to 21 grants to eligible state-based marketplaces, including those that use the federally facilitated marketplace for enrollment.
July 14 - 2021 Coding Clinic: Quarter Updates
AzHHA Affiliated Partner, NJHA Healthcare Business Solutions, is offering member health information managers and coding specialists a series of quarterly coding webinars called, 2021 Coding Clinic Updates - Everything You Really Need to Know. The webinar series provides a concise overview of the current issue of Coding Clinic and allows participants an opportunity for discussion and Q&A. The second quarter session is scheduled July 14. Register here.
July 19 – Arizona Telemedicine Program: Telemedicine Applications
The Telemedicine Applications workshop offers a more detailed approach for telemedicine programs, providing a more in-depth look at the clinical applications of such programs. Individuals or groups who have some telehealth experience and are interested in expanding services are encouraged to attend. Speakers will cover advanced telemedicine topics through an in-depth look at real-world clinical applications of telemedicine and telehealth, including telepsychiatry, infectious Disease, teleradiology, telehealth physical therapy and telehealth nursing. Register here.
In the News
UnitedHealthcare faces second possible class action on denials
Modern Healthcare (subscription required)