We’re at a critical point in Congress’ attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  The current proposed plan (called the American Health Care Act or AHCA) would fundamentally change the Medicaid funding approach by switching it to a block grant or per capita cap. The full House will likely vote on the on the proposed law this Thursday, March 23.  AHCCCS has an easy to read 2-page summary of how AHCA would impact Medicaid in Arizona.  It’s worth a look for sure.

Right now about 1.9 million low-income Arizonans have their health insurance through AHCCCS.  About 400,000 Arizonans are included in the main eligibility groups initially affected by the changes proposed by the AHCA.  The proposed law would change the enhanced federal funding for childless adults (with incomes up to 100% FPL) and the expansion population of adults (people with incomes 100-133% FPL).  The AHCA would allow the State to continue claiming enhanced federal matching funds for members who are enrolled as of December 31, 2019 but don’t have a break in eligibility (for more than one month).  The bill would also limit federal payments to states to a fixed amount per eligible enrollee starting in FY 2020. 

The law in its current form would also eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a critical resource for protecting Arizonans from dangerous infectious diseases and other crucial public health issues like the opioid poisonings.

Passage in the House of Representatives is not a foregone conclusion, and your voice is needed now to add to the chorus of folks with concerns about the current proposal.  Please visit the American Public Health Association web tool today to urge your Congressional Representative to revise the plan to allow Arizonans to maintain their healthcare coverage and make coverage, premiums and co-pays affordable for all Arizonans and to protect the Prevention & Public Health Fund.

You can also directly contact your Representatives by calling, emailing, and tweeting them! Join the movement today! 

    Representative Paul Gosar (CD4)

    (928) 445-1683: Prescott | (480) 882-2697: Gold Canyon | (202) 225-2315: DC Office

    http://paulgosar.house.gov/contact/ | Twitter Handle: @RepGosar

    Representative Martha McSally (CD2)

    (520) 881-3588: Tucson | (520) 459-3115: Sierra Vista | (202) 225-2542: DC Office 

    https://mcsally.house.gov/contact | Twitter Handle: @RepMcSally

    Representative Kyrsten Sinema (CD9) 

    (602) 956-2285: Phoenix | (202) 225-9888: DC Office 

    https://sinemaforms.house.gov/forms/writeyourrep/ | Twitter Handle: @RepSinema

    Here’s this week’s summary regarding the action at the State Legislature.  

    Physical Activity

    HB 2082 which would enhance recess time in Arizona is looking good.  It passed its hearing in theSenate Education Committee last week (but was amended to eliminate the 50 minute per day requirement).  It’s still an improvement, and we’re pleased that the Bill appears to be headed to the Governor’s desk (although it needs to go back to the House since it was amended to get rid of the 50 minute per day requirement).

    The data suggest that physical activity during the school day improves cognitive skills and attitudes, enhances concentration and attention, and improves classroom behavior: The Association Between School-based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance a few years ago has the data.  

    Community Health Workers

    Sadly, HB 2426, which would have set up a pathway for Community Health Workers in AZ appears to be dead for this year.  It wasn’t heard in the Commerce and Public Safety Committee this week, meaning that it’s effectively finished for this year.  But- the Arizona Community Health Workers Association did a great job of organizing and is in a solid position to keep the momentum going next legislative session.   

    Asthma Management

    HB 2208 which would (under certain circumstances) let school staff administer or help a student self-administer an inhaler for things like asthma episodes passed the full House awhile back and has now passed the required Senate committees and even both Caucuses.  All good news so far.  

    Nurse Anesthetists

    SB 1336 passed the Senate last week and, after a compromise amendment, passed through the House Health Committee last week.   AzPHA is still in support and also submitted information to the committee talking about how this bill would be good for access to care in rural AZ.

    Newborn Screening for SCID

    SB 1368, which would authorize the ADHS to collect the newborn screening fees needed to add Severe Combined Immune Deficiency syndrome to the list of newborn screening tests passed through the Senate and the was unanimously approved by the House Health Committee.  This one is looking good.

    Traffic Safety Cameras

    HB2525 passed the House last week but was never heard in the Senate Transportation and Technology Committee, so it’s effectively dead for this year (for now).   

    Teenage Texting & Driving

    SB 1080 which would ban brand-new teen drivers from using their smart phone (for the first 6 months of their license (if they’re under 18) passed the Senate and passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on March 1.   Still waiting for the Rules Committee hearing.

    Sunscreen & Tanning Beds

    HB 2134 which would make it clear that kids can take sunscreen to school and camps… and that school and camp staff can help them put it on will be heard in the Senate Education Committee Wednesday at 9 am.  We’re of course signed up in support. 

    HB 2194 which would have prohibited kids under 18 from using tanning beds and prevents studios from claiming that tanning beds are risk-free is effectively dead for this year.  

    Drug Overdose Review Team

    HB 2493 which would set up a drug overdose review team at the ADHS (much like the child fatality review team) was assigned to the Senate Health & Human Services Committee.  No hearing date set yet.

    If you’re interested in joining our Public Policy Committee, you can contact tiffany@azpha.org and she’ll get you on our list.  We have a weekly call every Monday at 11 am and someone from the committee is always down at the Legislature for key hearings.