Medicaid Coverage for Mental Health by Joe Furia

Debbie Johnston, Senior Vice President of Policy Development

The Center for Medicaid & CHIP Services issued a letter this week to State Medicaid Directors granting additional flexibility for states to cover mental health treatment for patients with serious mental illnesses. Specifically, states can seek new demonstration waivers that will allow them to use federal funding to pay for services furnished to Medicaid beneficiaries during short term stays for acute care in psychiatric hospitals or residential treatment settings that qualify as institutions of mental disease (IMDs), if those states are also taking action to ensure good quality of care in IMDs and to improve access to community-based services. This waiver opportunity is comparable to the recent Section 1115 demonstration option to improve treatment for substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder.

AzHHA applauds CMS for moving forward with this demonstration opportunity. Arizona previously had in-lieu of authority to utilize IMD services for the Medicaid patients with SMI, but this authority was pulled back under rules adopted by the previous Administration.

AzHHA Releases Hospital Finance Reports for August by Joe Furia

Jim Haynes, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Results for August 2018 show a marked increase in overall operating income year to date. At the same time, the uncompensated care is continuing to run well below the levels encountered when the enrollment was frozen. The graph below illustrates that uncompensated care rose when the number of childless adults covered by the AHCCCS program declined, and then decreased when coverage was restored and expanded to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

Over the last few months, the AHCCCS population has begun to shrink after several years of steady expansion. The overall population served by AHCCCS has decreased by 3%, over the last year as illustrated below:

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In addition, the childless adult population financed through the provider assessment declined rather dramatically beginning in November 2017 through June 2018, but has started to rise again over the last several months as shown below:

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Professional and Community Training on Having the End of Life Conversation by Joe Furia

Karen Beckford, Program Director Thoughtful Life Conversations

Education is crucial to developing the skills necessary to having quality conversations about advance care planning and AzPOLST (Arizona Physician’s Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment). AzHHA’s Thoughtful Life Conversations (TLC) program is bringing training to communities across Arizona this holiday season. These trainings provide individuals and healthcare professionals with the skills necessary to have quality conversations about advance care planning and to build a diverse understanding of palliative and end-of-life care. Join Thoughtful Life Conversations for these exciting opportunities to expand your knowledge and expertise. Click here to view the community education dates and here to view the healthcare professional education dates. Don’t see a scheduled training near you? Contact Karen Beckford to bring these trainings to your community.

AzHHA APP Will Offer New Services Beginning Dec. 2018 by Joe Furia

John Koeneke, Vice President of Business Development

Beginning December 2018 AzHHA members will be able to take advantage Healthcare Workforce Logistics’ (HWL) extensive locums agency network to meet their temporary physician and advance practice staffing needs. HWL's program enables AzHHA members to seamlessly expand the number of locums agencies they work with; simplifies the ordering, screening and on-boarding process for members; and reduces costs associated with contracting for locums by creating a competitive marketplace. This partnership enables all members, but especially those rural members who face locum staffing challenges, to source the right locum physician at a market rate to deliver patient care in their communities.

If your facility is interested in securing Locums physicians a review of our offering is certainly worth your while. Please contact John Koeneke for more information or question regarding this new program.

Point of Pride: Tucson Medical Center by Joe Furia

Tucson Medical Center has made it easier for patients to access non-emergency care through their TMC CareNow app. Released earlier this month, this free app allows patients to connect with TMC physicians and caregivers via their smartphone, tablet or computer. Using the app patients can send their caregivers pictures of physical ailments or discuss their symptoms and providers can suggest a treatment plan and prescribe medications. Increased telemedicine services in the past years have made healthcare services accessible to patients who would otherwise have to travel long distances or haveforego care. Finding ways to better serve our communities healthcare needs helps us get one step closer to becoming the healthiest state in the nation.