Legislative update – another major deadline is approaching
The legislature is rapidly approaching its second major deadline, committees have until March 26 to hear all bills. Those not heard by the deadline will be effectively dead, although it is not impossible for them to be resurrected in one form or another.
SB1096: APPROPRIATION; AHCCCS; CHIP is headed to Governor Doug Ducey after passing the Senate floor by a vote of 28 ayes to 2 nays on March 16. It is expected that Governor Ducey signs the bill.
For several hours last week, the bill’s passage was in doubt due to a possible lack of republican support and democrats demanding a provision be added to the bill which increased the KidsCare eligibility level from 200% federal poverty limit (FPL) to 250% FPL. Ultimately, all republicans and three democrats supported the bill allowing it to pass the House Floor by a vote of 34 ayes to 26 nays on March 9.
The strike everything amendment to SB1096 adjusts the AHCCCS budget by increasing the agency’s federal expenditure authority for state fiscal year 2021 by approximately $3 billion. This revision to last year’s “skinny budget” is necessary to give AHCCCS the authority to spend extra federal dollars related to two things: (1) the enhanced federal match under the public health emergency and (2) the new hospital assessment passed last session to increase provider rates. This change to last year’s budget is a technical fix and requires no additional monies from the state general fund.
Visit azhha.org/azhha_priority_and_key_legislation to view all bill status updates.
Deadline for participation in HIE incentive payments is April 1
The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) proposed health information exchange (HIE) differential adjusted payment (DAP) increases for hospitals and other providers in its DAP CYE 2022 Preliminary Public Notice applicable to dates of service beginning October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022. To be eligible to receive these payment increases, ranging from 2.5% to 10%, a facility must submit a letter of intent to both AHCCCS and Health Current by emailing [email protected] and [email protected] by April 1, 2021. Templates of the letter of intent are available on the Health Current website. Questions may be emailed to Christy Dye, chief business development officer at Health Current, at [email protected].
More information about the HIE DAP as well as other 2022 DAP deadlines and milestones can be found in this 2022 DAP Summary. AzHHA members may email Liz Lorenz, director of policy, with any questions at [email protected].
Medicare to pay more to administer COVID-19 vaccines
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Monday, Medicare will nearly double what it pays to administer COVID-19 vaccines to about $40 per dose to better reflect the costs involved and help providers vaccinate more individuals. The exact payment rate will depend on the type of service provider and location, the agency said. CMS also updated its vaccine guidance for Medicaid providers to reflect the new Medicare rates and is working to update its guidance for Medicare providers, states and insurers. The new rates were set to go into effect March 15, 2021.
Call to Action: Legislation to Delay Medicare Sequester Cuts
Legislation has been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate to extend the moratorium on the 2% across-the-board cut to all Medicare payments, known as sequestration, that is expected to resume on April 1 without additional congressional action. The House bill would eliminate the 2% Medicare sequester cuts until the end of 2021. On the other hand, the bill introduced in the Senate would extend the moratorium on the 2% Medicare sequester cuts through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Please contact your U.S. Representatives today and urge them to support the legislation, which may be voted on in the House this week. Contact Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly and urge them to support similar legislation in the Senate.
View the AHA’s fact sheet for more details and this letter with other health groups on this issue. Additionally, a new AHA fact sheet details how hospitals face continued financial challenges one year into the COVID-19 pandemic and demonstrates why additional support for hospitals is necessary.
Detailed summary of American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
The American Hospital Association released a Legislative Advisory March 17 with a detailed summary of provisions affecting hospitals and health systems that were included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package signed into law March 11 by President Joe Biden. To view the summary, click here.
MACPAC issues Medicaid, CHIP recommendations to Congress
The Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program Payment and Access Commission recently released its March report to Congress, which recommends automatically increasing the federal share of Medicaid expenditures during economic downturns to support increased enrollment and decreased state revenue. The commission also recommends Congress extend the postpartum coverage period to one year after delivery for Medicaid and CHIP and require states to provide full Medicaid benefits to all pregnant and postpartum individuals. Among other topics, the report includes the commission’s annual report on Medicaid disproportionate share hospital allotments to states. It also looks at efforts to better integrate care for individuals dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare.
Transportation resources for individuals who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
Valley of the Sun YMCA has partnered with Uber and the Arizona Department of Health Services to provide rides for seniors. This program provides transportation to state-run sites. For more information, call 602-212-6088 or email [email protected].
Individuals enrolled in Arizona's Medicaid program (AHCCCS) also have a resource available if transportation is a barrier to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine. AHCCCS announced last month it will cover members' transportation costs. Beneficiaries who have a scheduled COVID-19 vaccination appointment at a drive-thru site are encouraged to contact their health plan to schedule non-emergency transportation to attend that appointment.
Those who live in the Phoenix area may keep in mind that the Maricopa County vaccine distribution site at Grand Canyon University (GCU) is pedestrian-friendly and close to public transportation. Those who use rideshare, buses, or light rail can walk or ride to the vaccine distribution site at GCU.
CMS excludes four physician telehealth services from Medicare after COVID-19 emergency
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released March 12 a notice correcting technical errors in its final rule updating physician fee schedule payments for calendar year 2021. The notice removes four codes from the newly created Category 3 list of approved telehealth services, which CMS says were inadvertently included on the list: 96121 (Neurobehavioral status exam by a physician or other qualified health professional) and 99221-99223 (Initial hospital care). Services included in Category 3 will remain on the Medicare telehealth services list through the calendar year in which the public health emergency ends.
Save the date - Working Together: Forging the Future of Serious Illness Care
In collaboration with partners from California and Hawaii, AzHHA is working to hold a virtual summit, Working Together: Forging the Future of Serious Illness Care, on June 22 and 23. Attendees will hear from inspiring speakers, get the latest information on the state of serious illness care from thought leaders, connect with colleagues and friends in breakouts and group discussions and have the opportunity to rejuvenate the mind and spirit with a variety of activities. Registration is coming soon.
Become an advance care planning trainer
AzHHA is pleased to offer the Thoughtful Life Conversations Advance Care Planning workshop to prepare community representatives and volunteers to facilitate the 1 or 2-hour community Advance Care Planning workshop. Participants will review the basic steps needed for effective advance care planning as well as learn about Arizona regulations governing advance care planning, facilitation strategies and review community, state and national resources.
To lead Advance Care Planning sessions, participants are required to attend the entire workshop, schedule workshops through Thoughtful Life Conversations or the End-of-Life Care Partnership, successfully co-facilitate training with an approved trainer, use standardized curricula and submit required paperwork. Register for the April 7 workshop here.
March 25 & 26 – Certified coding specialist exam preparation: Part 2
The Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) Exam Preparation is a refresher course designed by AzHHA Affiliated Partner NJHA Healthcare Business Solutions to assist with the challenges of studying for the American Health Information Management Association’s Certified Coding Specialist exam. Each session is designed to improve, review, refresh and renew the participant’s coding skills. The CCS Exam Preparation will include lecture, discussion, assessments and exercises and will target topics most likely to be included in the CCS exam. Participants are encouraged to have recent current procedural terminology and ICD-10-CM/PCS books available during the webinars. Part 1 will be offered March 19 followed by part 2 offered March 25 and 26. Registration for parts 1 and 2 must be purchased separately.
April 16 – Introduction to POLST workshop
The one-hour Introduction to POLST workshop equips healthcare professionals with knowledge and resources to begin using POLST, a portable medical order, 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. Register here.
April 15 & 16 – AzCHER virtual conference
AzCHER’s premiere conference will occur on April 15 and 16, 2021. The two-day event (9 a.m. - 12 p.m. each day) features a packed agenda with keynote speakers addressing the recent Estes Park, Colorado wildfire and the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. Eight break-out sessions will also be offered. Visit the AzCHER website to register and view the full agenda.
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