Legislative Update: Representative David Stringer’s Replacement is Announced / by AzHHA

Greg Ensell, Vice President of Government Relations

In light of Representative David Stringer’s resignation, Arizona’s House of Representatives was left split 30-29, leaving republicans one vote shy of the 31 votes needed to pass a bill out of chamber. Because of this, the House suspended floor votes until a replacement was found. Yesterday, Yavapai County Board of Supervisors picked Steve Pierce in a 4-1 vote, over former Secretary of State Ken Bennett and GOP organizer Steven Sensmeier, in a special meeting to fill Stringer’s vacant seat. Steven Pierce, former State Senator and Majority Whip was one of numerous supporters of the Medicaid Expansion under Governor Brewer’s leadership.

Below you will find a sample of legislation that AzHHA is currently tracking:

SB 1089, Telemedicine, Sponsor: Senator Heather Carter

SB 1089 is intended to expand telemedicine coverage. The bill requires commercial health insurers to cover medical services provided by telemedicine if they cover the same service when provided in person. AzHHA strongly supports the bill. (SB 1089 passed Senate Health and Human Services 8-0; passed Senate 29-0; passed House Health and Human Services 9-0).

SB 1352, Transfer of the Health Care Directives Registry, Sponsor: Senator Heather Carter

SB 1352 is intended to improve healthcare provider access to healthcare directives like living wills. The bill moves the Arizona Health Care Directive Registry from its current location at the Secretary of State to the state’s Health Information Exchange organization Health Current. AzHHA strongly supports the bill because increasing provider access to health directives is consistent with the policy priority of improving end-of-life care. (SB 1352 passed Senate Health and Human Services 7-0; passed Senate 30-0; passed House Health and Human Services Committee 9-0).

SB 1354, Allocation of Graduate Medical Education Funds, Sponsor: Senator Heather Carter

SB 1354 is intended to make a significant dent in the physician shortage affecting Arizona - especially in rural and medically underserved areas. As amended, the bill appropriates: 1) $20 million to AHCCCS for Graduate Medical Education (GME); 2) $11 million to U of A Medical School; 3) $10 million for costs related to nurse training and to encourage retired doctors to return to practice; 4) $4 million to Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) for the primary care provider loan repayment program; and, 5) $5 million to the Board of Medical Student Loans program. (SB 1354 passed Senate Appropriations 9-0; passed Senate 28-2; passed House Appropriations 10-1).

Arizona has not appropriated state general funds for GME in approximately a decade. In 2018, AHCCCS provided more than $239 million in GME payments to Arizona hospitals. Of that amount, $205 million in federal matching funds were triggered by $88 million from local, county, tribal jurisdictions, hospitals and universities. If passed, more than $66 million ($20 million state funds + $46 million federal funds) will be available for medical residencies and rotations in rural and medically underserved areas.

HB 2041, Petition for Assaulted Hospital Employees, Sponsor: Mark Finchem

HB 2041 is intended as a state-level response to the nationally recognized issue of healthcare workplace safety. This bill allows hospital employees, volunteers, and others who have been assaulted to petition a court to require the assailant get a blood test. An amendment removed the requirement for a hospital to report an assault to the ADHS within 72 hours of an assault and replaced it with nonbinding language expressing the Legislature’s intent to encourage hospitals to keep and report statistics on workplace safety to public policy researchers. Following the amendment, AzHHA’s position is neutral on the bill. (HB 2014 passed House Judiciary 9-1; passed House Health and Human Services 9-0; passed House Rules 8-0; passed House 57-2; passed Senate Health and Human Services 7-0; Senate COW approved).

H2122, Prohibition of Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders on Minors, Sponsor: Nancy Barto

HB 2122 is intended to prohibit healthcare providers from placing do-not-resuscitate (D-N-R) orders on minors against the will of the parents or guardians. The bill originally introduced: 1) Prohibits providers from implementing a D-N-R order without the written or oral consent of both parents or guardian of a minor; 2) If the parent or guardian orally consents to implement a do-not-resuscitate order, two witnesses other than the parent, guardian or physician must be present and willing to attest to the consent; and, 3) Prohibits a healthcare provider from withholding care even if, using reasonable medical judgement, they believe that care will harm the patient and/or cause unnecessary pain or suffering.

The Senate Health and Human Services amended the bill to permit only one witness to be present and allow a provider to put a DNR order on a minor after 48 hours of unsuccessfully attempting to contact the parents or legal guardian of the minor. (H 2122 passed House Health and Human Services 8-0; passed House Rules 5-1; passed House 58-0; passed Senate Health and Human Services 8-0).