Learn about new, accessible information to help you document your medical wishes, this week’s legislative update and additional health news highlights for the Arizona healthcare community.
Legislative update – AzHHA’s priority legislation
The Legislature had a short week due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, so there was no House Health Committee meeting this week. The Senate Health Committee considered only one bill on eyeglass prescriptions in their nine-minute hearing. Legislators have introduced more than 650 bill proposals thus far, and they have a few more weeks before introduction deadlines. Governor Hobbs released her 2024 Proposed Budget on Friday, Jan. 13. It was not well-received by the Republican majorities in the legislature, who called it “dead on arrival.” It’s only week two, but the Chair of House Appropriations predicted a prolonged session with a potential government shutdown on July 1 if the Governor isn’t willing to significantly change her proposal.
Of note, AzHHA’s two priority pieces of legislation were introduced this week, including our health plan accountability legislation, HB2290 sponsored by Rep. David Cook (R-7), and our fix to the outpatient treatment center licensing bill, HB2346 sponsored by Rep. Amish Shah (D-24). Stay tuned as we help move these bills through the legislative process on behalf of AzHHA members!
Medical care planning gets an accessible upgrade
The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) this week unveiled a new, accessible menu of options to help Arizonans plan for their medical care needs. The advance care planning documents include upgraded forms to meet the specialized needs of our community including large print, braille, audio files, videos featuring sign language interpretation and Spanish language documents. Advance directives are legal documents that let others know about your wishes and how to honor them if you cannot speak for yourself. These documents include a Living Will, Medical Power of Attorney and Pre-Hospital Medical Directive. You may choose which documents you would like to complete, depending on how you want decisions to be made. Visit https://www.azhha.org/tlc to get started.
HEALTHII Quality Metrics Due January 31
Beginning Oct. 1, 2023, approximately $100 million of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System’s (AHCCCS) Hospital Enhanced Access Leading to Health Improvements Initiative (HEALTHII) payments for hospitals will be tied to quality metrics. Each hospital type will be evaluated on 2-3 quality metrics, and some of the measurements are self-reported. Hospital users must register at https://empowerqmaz.thinkhts.com/. Once registration has been approved, users will be able to submit data. Data is due by Jan. 31, 2023. Failure to submit data may result in decreased HEALTHII payments for a hospital. For additional information, please contact Amy Upston, Director of Financial Policy and Reimbursement, at [email protected].
SAMHSA announces grant opportunities to prevent and treat opioid use disorders
Non-profit hospitals can apply for grants sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to prevent and treat opioid use disorders. The first opportunity allows hospitals to develop and implement alternatives to opioids for pain management in hospitals and emergency department settings and reduce the likelihood of future opioid use. Hospitals can receive up to $500,000 annually for three years. Health facilities can apply for up to $750,000 per year for five years to administer medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. SAMSHA expects to award about 24 Medication-Assisted Treatment grants, including up to 13 for tribal organizations. The deadline for the grants is March 6 and March 7, respectively.
MEDPAC recommends 2024 Medicare payment changes
Last week the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (MedPAC) adopted recommendations to Congress for the 2024 Medicare Fee-for-Service which included:
- Update the hospital inpatient and outpatient rate by current law plus 1%
- Provide an additional $2 billion to safety-net hospitals through the Medicare Safety Net Index
- Reduce inpatient rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities by 3%
- Increase payments for physicians by half of the Medicare Economic Index increase and enact a 15% add-on payment for primary care physicians and 5% for non-primary care physicians for services provided to low-income Medicare beneficiaries
- Reduce the payment rate for home health agencies by 7%.
Ultimately, MedPAC’s recommendations are non-binding, and it is unclear of the likelihood of any Medicare increases going into effect. The House Republicans have already stated that their goals include capping fiscal year 2024 spending at fiscal year 2022 levels or lower, placing an additional hurdle for any Medicare increases.
January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ theme for Human Trafficking Prevention Month 2023 is Partner to Prevent, an opportunity to highlight the importance of partnerships and collaboration in strengthening anti-trafficking efforts. Preventing human trafficking cannot be accomplished alone; rather, we must build partnerships across all sectors of society to improve the lives of those we serve. When we #Partner2Prevent, we can enhance our efforts to keep everyone safe from human trafficking. Visit OTIP’s website throughout the month for news and resources and the federal interagency calendar of events.
Input sought on development of patient safety action alliance
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is seeking public comment to help develop the National Healthcare System Action Alliance to Advance Patient Safety. The initiative looks to support healthcare delivery in various settings. Comments are due by January 26, 2023.
January 26 - Hospital Assessments and HEALTHII payments 101
AzHHA will host this annual event for members interested in learning about the two hospital assessments and the quarterly HEALTHII payments. Learn why the assessments were created, which types of hospitals are exempt from the assessments, how the amounts have changed over time, why hospitals receive quarterly HEALTHII payments, HEALTHII reconciliations and HEALTHII quality metrics. AzHHA members who have not received an invitation but are interested in attending may contact Amy Upston, director of financial policy and reimbursement, at [email protected].
Feb 23 and March 2 - AzCHER Radiation Surge Annex Training and Tabletop Exercise
AzHHA’s Arizona Coalition for Healthcare Emergency Response (AzCHER) team will conduct a Radiological Surge Response Training and an HSEEP-compliant tabletop exercise to train and test key elements within the Radiation Surge Annex. Completion of either format will leave you with a better overall understanding of the response to an incident involving radiological materials, the Radiation Surge Annex and how to implement it into your agency’s emergency response plans. Participants may choose to join either our virtual or in-person option.
March 23 – Save the Date: AzCHER Annual Conference
Join us for our third AzCHER Annual Conference at the Arizona Broadway Theatre, Thursday, March 23, 2023. Our theme “Safety, Security and Situational Awareness” promises a great opportunity to learn, network and collaborate. More information regarding the conference and registration will be available soon.
May 2 – Save the Date: HEOA Collaborative Conference
AzHHA’s Care Improvement team is planning its first Health Equity Organizational Assessment (HEOA) Collaborative Conference on May 2, 2023, to celebrate the efforts and successes of the HEOA Collaborative members. This interactive conference will give attendees the opportunity to share accomplishments, processes, stories, lessons learned and garner inspiration to continue the journey of health equity.
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