Credentialing bill moves through the legislature, $25 million workforce grant opportunity, and hospital financial reports headline this week’s Connection newsletter.
Legislative update – health plan accountability bill passes the House
We are pleased to announce that AzHHA’s priority bill, HB2290, passed the House on Tuesday, March 7 by a vote of 42-18. Thank you to all the AzHHA members who helped advocate moving this bill forward. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration in committee and on the floor. We recently sent a member advocacy alert to contact your state senator and help tell the story about why this bill is needed. Additionally, AzHHA’s other priority bill to fix the outpatient treatment center licensure issue from last year, HB2346, passed the House on Wednesday, March 8 by a vote of 44-14 and is headed to the Senate as well. Both chambers resumed regular business this week with committee meetings and floor action. Provided no extensions are allowed, there are just two more weeks to hear bills in their opposite chamber for the measures to have a chance to become law this year. Finally, Governor Hobbs signed the first new laws of 2023, SB1171 (conformity; internal revenue code) and SB1103 (administrative review; approvals’ developments).
AzHHA hosts a weekly legislative update for members every Friday to provide an in-depth assessment of Arizona legislative activity. To participate in the call, contact [email protected].
Workforce grant application open through March 16
The Arizona State Board of Nursing (AZBN) has $25 million in grants available for licensed healthcare institutions to create or expand clinical training opportunities for nurses. The AZBN serves as the administrator of the Student Nurse Clinical Rotation and Licensed or Certified Nurse Training Pilot Program. This program was created as part of the 2022 AzHHA legislative priority, the Healthcare Workforce bill, HB2691. Three sets of grant application dates have been released with the final posted opportunity to apply ending March 16. Visit the AZBN website for more information.
Hospitals continue to struggle with operating margins
While hospitals nationwide got off to a slightly smoother start than they did in 2022, KaufmanHall reports January margins are down from December, starting the year off at (1.0)%. Low operating margins were driven by a combination of lower volumes coupled with higher expenses. KaufmanHall warns “with future COVID surges likely and difficult financial months ahead, managing cash effectively will be critical to weathering the storm.” KaufmanHall tracks finances from more than 900 hospitals nationwide on a monthly basis. Last week, AzHHA published its fourth quarter financial analysis showing continued challenges for Arizona hospitals. Overall, AzHHA hospitals reported negative margins in all four quarters of 2022, with (0.5)% for the final quarter.
Differential adjusted payments update
Based on member feedback, AzHHA submitted comments to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) on the contract year ending 2024 Differential Adjusted Payments (DAP) proposal. Since submitting comments, AHCCCS has released an updated version which includes one more DAP item for a Naloxone Distribution Program (NPD) for hospitals with an emergency department. To be eligible for this DAP payment, hospitals must submit a letter of intent to participate in the NDP by April 1, 2023, must develop and submit a facility policy that meets AHCCCS and the Arizona Department of Health Services standards for an NDP by Nov. 30, 2023, and must begin distribution of Naloxone to individuals at risk of overdose as identified through the facilities’ policy by Jan. 1, 2024. AzHHA is working to obtain additional information about . Please submit any comments to Amy Upston, Director of Financial Policy and Reimbursement.
Arizona community working to improve social vulnerability
Navajo County, Arizona made Modern Healthcare’s Unwell: Mapping Inequity in American Healthcare series issued Sunday, March 5. The project features data results showing areas of the U.S. where social vulnerability is deemed “highest” and access to care is “the poorest.” Navajo County ranks within the 99th percentile for social vulnerability—determined using 14 census metrics related to income and access to food, water and transportation—and is designated medically underserved by the federal government.
Our hospitals in Arizona’s rural counties (including Navajo County) are putting in the work it takes to improve health in their communities. As participants in our Health Equity Organizational Assessment Collaborative, they are looking at their community’s needs and their data and working to close healthcare gaps that may exist. This is no easy task when nearly half of the homes on tribal land don’t have access to running water, but the focus on their communities and the partnerships they create during the course of their work in the collaborative could improve social vulnerability in their communities for generations to come.
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 helps 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:
- Medicare Margins 4Q2022 FFS Analysis │ Sent 2/2/23
- Cost Report Model ǀ Sent 2/6/23
- Medicare Hospital FFY 2024 Wage Index and Occupational Mix Data Analysis │ Sent 2/7/23
- 4Q2022 Financial Indicators Analysis ǀ Sent 2/8/23
- Medicare Quality Programs Overview Report │ Sent 2/22/23
- OPPS Observation and Emergency Department Utilization Analysis ǀ Sent 2/23/23
- Medicare Spending per Beneficiary Report │ Sent 2/28/23
Welcome new Affiliated Partner - TruBridge
AzHHA welcomes our newest Affiliated Partner offering members a full complement of revenue cycle solutions. Formerly known as HRG, TruBridge was recently re-endorsed by the Affiliated Partners Program board of directors as a preferred vendor. AzHHA members receive a 5% discount on a comprehensive suite of solutions including central business office (CBO) functions; remote coding; extended business office (EBO) accounts receivable support; auditing; early out self-pay; and consulting on ICD-10 status, DRG validation and RAC appeals and support. For more information, email AzHHA’s Vice President of Member Services, Laura Dickscheid, at [email protected].
March 14 – Introduction to POLST workshops
Join physician orders for life-sustaining treatment paradigm (POLST) for their one-hour virtual workshops equipping healthcare professionals with knowledge and resources to begin using POLST 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.
March 21 – Crisis Standards of Care workshop series
Join a collaborative discussion on Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) plans with doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, clinical experts and other healthcare professionals during the virtual series March 21 – April 12.
Workshop 1: Preparing for Crisis Standards of Care
Workshop 2: Staying in Contingency
Workshop 3: Activating, Implementing & Collaborating on Crisis Standards of Care
Workshop 4: Supporting Staff and De-Activating Crisis Standards of Care
Learn more and register here.
March 23 –AzCHER Annual Conference
March 31 – Save the Date: Arizona Healthcare Workforce Summit
IN THE NEWS