The 2020 Legislative Session and it’s showtime for public health legislative advocacy. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be trying to influence our Arizona elected officials to make evidence-based public health policy decisions. Each week we will have an ask or two from our members to contact their Legislators and to sign up in favor of or against bills that will be under consideration in the next few days.
If you haven’t yet signed up on the www.azleg.gov system yet please do that in the next few days so you’ll be prepared to add yours to our collective public health policy voice. The instructions for signing up for the state legislature’s website is in this blog post from a couple of weeks ago this blog post from a couple of weeks ago.
Hundreds of bills have been proposed so far and we now have a starter list of those that we’ll be focusing on. This list will build and then shrink in the coming weeks. Below is where we are right now. We have 2 action items for you this week:
This Week’s Member Action Items:
HB 2608 Overdose; Disease Prevention (syringe services) will be heard in the House Health and Human Services Committee at 9 am on Thursday January 30. Please sign in to the azleg system and express your support for this important bill. It will decriminalize syringe services programs in Arizona.
It’s currently a felony to provide syringes to injection drug users via a syringe access program even though these programs are evidence-based programs that reduce the spread of Hepatitis C, HIV and other bloodborne pathogens and engage injection drug users in treatment. We have supported bills like this for the last several years, but they have yet to be successful.
SB1170 AHCCCS Dental Care for Pregnant Women will be heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday morning at 9 am. This bill from Sen Carter would expand oral health coverage for pregnant women enrolled in AHCCCS to include preventive and other services. This is a terrific bill for public health because a mom’s oral health status is directly linked to birth outcomes.
A new systematic review found a clear relationship between periodontal disease and pre-term birth, low birth weight and preeclampsia (potentially dangerous high blood pressure during delivery).
Here’s the list of bills that we’re conducting advocacy for and against so far:
HB2636 Tobacco Retail Licensing – AzPHA Supports
This bill (sponsored by Representative Blackman) would facilitate a licensing system for stores that wish to sell tobacco products including e-cigarettes. It also references the amendment to federal FDA law that raises the tobacco sale age to 21. This bill would be helpful to ensure compliance with the new federal age standard. The licensing system would be coordinated by the ADHS and begin on January 1, 2022.
HB2637 Tobacco Definition – AzPHA Supports
This bill (sponsored by Representative Blackman) will define electronic cigarettes as a tobacco product for the all purposes of state law (although I don’t think that this would extend for tax purposes although I’m not sure yet).
HB2173 Smoke Free AZ Act Amendments – AzPHA Supports
This bill sponsored by Representative Kavanagh would amend the voter approved Smoke Free Arizona Act to include electronic cigarettes. Because this amends a voter approved initiative it will need a supermajority vote in the legislature.
HB2050 Immunizations; Parental Control – AzPHA Opposes
This (Fillmore) bill would essentially get rid of the current system by which schools track whether students are vaccinated or not. Currently, parents decide whether to vaccinate their children and schools can’t require students to receive the recommended immunizations OR refuse to admit or otherwise penalize a student because the student has not received the recommended immunizations as long as the parent signs a personal exemption. Bad bill
HB2486 Immunization Requirements – AzPHA Opposes
This bill would basically do away with the FDA vaccine approval process and replace it with criteria set by this law for the purposes of implementing vaccination requirements. The FDA has a rigorous approval protocol that includes all the core elements to determine whether they are safe and effective. The data are reviewed by independent panels and approved using rigorous protocols.
This bill adds a series of additional requirements that, unless met, mean that a vaccine is eliminated from any vaccination requirement. It’s basically an IED to get completely rid of all vaccination requirements. Bad bill.
HB 2244 Dental; Native Americans – AzPHA Supports
This bill would require AHCCCS to seek federal authorization to reimburse IHS and tribal facilities to cover the cost of adult dental services that are eligible for a federal medical assistance percentage of 100%. Authorizes AHCCCS to seek CMS approval to reimburse Indian health care dental providers that receive 100% FMAP for the cost of dental services. Passed House Health 9-0 this week.
These bills from Rep. Butler & Sen Carter would expand oral health coverage for pregnant women enrolled in AHCCCS to include preventive and other services. This is a terrific bill for public health because a mom’s oral health status is directly linked to birth outcomes.
A new systematic review found a clear relationship between periodontal disease and pre-term birth, low birth weight and preeclampsia (potentially dangerous high blood pressure during delivery). The implications of the study are profound.
HB2535 Preventive Dental Care (AHCCCS) – AzPHA Supports
This bill from Representative Shah would boost the adult oral health coverage for Medicaid members to include two regular cleanings, fluoride 15 treatment, and one set of X-rays annually. We are in support of this common-sense bill.
HB2104 Child Care Assistance and Training – AzPHA Supports
This bill would let ADES waive work requirements for people enrolled full time in an accredited educational institution in order to continue to provide supplemental child care assistance subsidies for the dependent child.
SB 1028 Public Health Surveillance – AzPHA Supports
Adds “an emerging public health threat to the list of things that can trigger ADHS enhanced surveillance orders and compliance with mandatory public health interventions. The idea is that the bill would provide enhanced surveillance authority for emerging public health threats that aren’t yet a full public health emergency- along the lines of doing enhanced surveillance when persons were getting severe lung illnesses from the bootleg vaping products that contained vitamin e acetate.
SB 1167 Graduate Medical Education – AzPHA Supports
This important bill from Sen Carter would set up a program to reimburse primary care residency programs and qualifying Community Health Centers. This bill is important because it addresses the shortages that we face in rural and under-served areas by setting up residency programs that will have a ling-term positive impact on access to care (especially primary care) in these areas.
HB 2296 Native American AHEC – AzPHA Supports
This bill would create a sixth Area Health Education Center (AHEC) that will focus on the Indian Health System. AHECs are committed to expanding the health care workforce, while maximizing diversity and facilitating distribution, especially in rural and under-served communities and offer creative, hands-on and innovative health career curriculum for pre-college level students.
HB 2608 Syringe Services – AzPHA Supports
This bill would decriminalize syringe services programs in Arizona. It is currently a felony to provide syringes to injection drug users via a syringe access program even though these programs are evidence-based programs that reduce the spread of Hepatitis C, HIV and other blood-borne pathogens and engage injection drug users in treatment. We have supported bills like this for the last several years, but they have yet to be successful.
HB 2549 Adult Protective Services Audit – AzPHA Supports
A recent report from the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council has identified several critical shortcomings in the performance of the Adult Protective Services program at the Arizona Department of Economic Security. This bill would charge the Auditor General’s Office with contracting for an independent evaluation of APS’ performance- an evaluation that is sorely needed. It includes a $300K appropriation to conduct the review.
SB 1086 Licensing Surveyors – AzPHA Supports
Appropriates $3M & 44 staff positions in FY 2021 for additional (ADHS) long-term care facility surveyors. Normally, these services would be paid for via a licensing fee. In this case, the bill contemplates a general fund appropriation.
The genesis of this bill is as a result of the 2019 Auditor General’s Report that found the ADHS is not adequately following up on complaints at skilled nursing facilities in Arizona. Passed Senate Health 8-0 last week.
HB 2031 School Marshals – AzPHA Opposes
Lawmakers just introduced a new bill that would bring guns into Arizona schools. HB 2031 would create a school marshal program that would allow school employees across Arizona to carry concealed firearms on school grounds, during school hours. There is no evidence in the literature that we could find to demonstrate that this is an evidence-based intervention to prevent violence and injury in schools so we are opposing the measure.
SB 1164 Severe Threat Order of Protection – AzPHA Supports
This bill would create a new kind of severe threat order of protection (with judicial review) and place new requirements for persons for who the orders have been issued including prohibiting the person from buying or having a firearm during the order’s duration.
SB 1169 School Health Program – AzPHA Supports
This bill from Sen Carter would support the costs of placing nurses and psychologists in Arizona public schools. The bill includes a detailed list of application standards for schools.
SB1221 SNAP; benefit match – AzPHA Supports
This bill would direct an appropriation of $800K to the ADES to develop the infrastructure to create a produce incentive program within SNAP (food stamps) and to help enrollees to buy Arizona grown fruits and vegetables.