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Connection Newsletter - Governor releases additional funds for Arizona hospitals

Funds include $1.2 million in dialysis center support, $6 million to expand beds in post-acute care settings and $28 million to expand nursing staff for hospitals.

Governor releases additional funds for Arizona hospitals

Governor Doug Ducey Wednesday announced an additional $35 million in funding to relieve Arizona hospital capacity issues. The funds include $1.2 million in dialysis center support, $6 million to expand beds in post-acute care settings and $28 million to expand nursing staff for hospitals. The relief cannot come soon enough as hospitals manage the flow of more and more patients coming in for care. AzHHA thanks Governor Ducey for providing these additional funds for much needed dialysis treatment and staffing for post-acute care beds.

Healthcare worker vaccine mandate to resume in half of the U.S.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Wednesday issued a ruling ordering the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine mandate rule to resume in approximately half the country while upholding the preliminary injunction of the rule with respect to the 14 plaintiff states that brought the lawsuit including Arizona. The full list of plaintiff states includes Arizona, Louisiana, Montana, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

In addition, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a Missouri district court’s preliminary injunction of the CMS rule as applied to 10 states: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

As a result, the CMS vaccine mandate is still temporarily unenforceable in Arizona. The federal government is expected to request the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule the Fifth Circuit with respect to its decision to uphold the preliminary injunction of the rule in those 24 states.

Relief from Medicare cuts signed into law

President Joe Biden has signed into law the Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act last week, which provides relief from Medicare cuts to hospitals that otherwise would have gone into effect on January 1. Specifically, the law prevents the 2% Medicare sequester cuts from going into effect during the first quarter of 2022, and the Medicare sequester cuts will then be reduced from 2% to 1% from April 1, 2022, through June 30, 2022. The law also halts the 4% Statutory Pay-As-You-Go sequester from taking effect early next year. Without congressional action, hospitals would have seen $9.4 billion in Medicare cuts in 2022. 

AHA files surprise billing lawsuit

The American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association filed a complaint in federal court December 9 challenging a provision of the surprise billing interim final rule issued on September 30, 2021, by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies. The provision being challenged implicates the arbitration process for determining fair payment for services by out-of-network providers. The complaint asserts that the Department of Health and Human Services’ rule effectively upends requirements specified in the No Surprises Act and would result in reduced access to care for patients. The rule and the specific provision being challenged are set to take effect January 1, 2022. To learn more about the rule, visit the AHA’s Surprise Billing webpage.

$9 billion in Phase 4 Provider Relief payments are disbursed

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that through the Health Resources and Services Administration, about $9 billion in Provider Relief Funds began disbursement. Phase 4 payments were made to healthcare providers who have revenue losses and expenses related to the pandemic from July 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021. HRSA is reimbursing a higher percentage of losses and expenses for smaller providers that have historically operated on slimmer financial margins and typically care for vulnerable populations – as compared to larger providers. In Arizona, 1021 providers have begun to receive a portion of the $106,137,292 allocated for the state.

Latest ransomware attack impacts hospitals across the nation

Human resources management company Kronos is the latest company to have been affected by a ransomware attack. On December 11, the company became aware of the cyberattack that affects clients', including some hospitals, access to processing payroll, handling timesheets and managing their workforce as well as other essential human resources tools. "This attack once again highlights the need for robust third-party risk management programs that identify mission-critical dependencies and downtime preparedness. If mission-critical third-party services are made unavailable due to a cyberattack, it may result in disruptions to hospital operations. As such, we urge all third-party providers that serve the healthcare community to examine their cyber readiness, response and resiliency capabilities,” said the American Hospital Association’s senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk, John Riggi.

Emergency Staffing Solutions

AzHHA continues to offer a staffing resource to members through its Affiliated Partners Program. This resource can be accessed as a supplement to all other staffing initiatives. Emergency Staffing Solutions for Arizona hospitals – or ESSAz for short – is a one-stop resource to help you find quality healthcare professionals, including nurses and respiratory therapists. AzHHA Affiliated Partner, Adaptive Workforce Solutions, will assist hospitals with posting requisitions, sourcing clinicians, credentialing and onboarding, timekeeping, and invoicing. Contact Laura Dickscheid, AzHHA Vice President, Member Solutions or click here for more information.

Upcoming Events

February 7 - Developing a Telemedicine Program

This course is ideal for individuals or groups who have some telehealth experience and are interested in expanding their services. It is also a great course for those new to telehealth who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the growing industry. The course fee is waived for Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Nevada residents. 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.

In the News

Big hospital chains drop vaccine mandates for health workers
NY Times

Governor's Office announces $35.2 million to help strained Arizona hospitals
Arizona Republic

Omicron is spreading faster than any other coronavirus variant

Recent telehealth and broadband funding and funding opportunities for the Southwest Region
Southwest Telehealth Resource Center