Results of the 2018 Arizona State Legislative Session

Arizona CapitolBills that successfully navigated the 2018 legislative process and were signed by the Governor generally become law ninety days following the end of the legislative session.  This is called the General Effective Date, and this year it falls on August 3. AHCCCS must take steps to implement these new laws, which often include updates to rules, contracts, policies, provider registration, claims processing, financial monitoring and reporting, the state plan, and in some instances even the waiver. Some laws are more complicated and time consuming to implement than others.

A variety of bills signed into law this year that will have long-lasting impacts to the Medicaid program and the state. Of the 1,206 bills that were introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, 369 passed and 346 were signed into law by the Governor.

Some new laws aim to update or modernize existing statutes. Other bills overhaul or create entire programs or address a public health crisis such like the opioid epidemic. These will require an intense amount of work to turn into policies.

Here are a few new policies passed in the 2018 legislative session:

  1. HB 2235 formally recognizes and establishes scope of practice for dental therapists, a new provider type. Dental therapists will be permitted to provide about 30 services in total, including some extractions. This new provider type is being described as a big step forward for oral healthcare in the state, particularly for tribal partners.
  2. HB 2324 formally recognizes Community Health Workers, who have a long history in some Arizona communities across the state. These providers have also been referred to historically as Primatores. This newly recognized workforce will provide aid and support to members and communities across the state to better understand and manage their health. For those with chronic health conditions, a history of hospital readmissions, or even those experiencing significant cultural or language barriers, Community Health Workers will bridge the gap and enable better health outcomes, hopefully resulting in reduced costs long-term.
  3. SB 1450 renames the various Human Rights Committees to “Independent Oversight Committees” and transfers oversight responsibility from AHCCCS to the Arizona Department of Administration. This transition intends to create efficiencies by streamlining accountability for and engagement with the Independent Oversight Committees.
  4. SB 1520 & HB 2659 provide the State Fiscal Year 2019 budget and among other things, include:
    1. $10M in funds to provide behavioral health services in schools;
    2. Funding for a Suicide Prevention Coordinator at AHCCCS;
    3. Funds to increase hospital rates by 2.5% if specific performance metrics are met;
    4. Funds to increase Skilled Nursing Facility and Assisted Living rates by 3%;
    5. Funding for 12 full time employees within the American Indian Health Program; and
    6. The elimination of AHCCCS Prior Quarter Coverage.

Our favorite new law from 2018 is SB 1517, which officially establishes the Sonorosaurus as the official state dinosaur of Arizona. This bill successfully passed after an 11 year old boy wrote a letter to Governor Ducey seeking its addition as a state symbol after fossils had been found in Arizona. The Sonorosaurus now joins other notables such as the Saguaro Cactus Blossom, Palo Verde tree, Ridge-nosed Rattle Snake, Apache Trout, and even the Bola Tie as an official Arizona state symbol.


Medication Assisted Treatment Symposiums To Focus on Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Strategies

Opioid epidemicIn collaboration with the Arizona State University Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy, AHCCCS will host two MAT Symposiums in Safford and Lake Havasu City this summer. Discussion will focus on how Arizona is using clinically effective prevention and treatment strategies to best serve those impacted by the opioid epidemic, and what initiatives the state is using to combat this health crisis. The events are free and open to MAT providers, treatment providers, physical health providers, harm reduction organizations, justice system partners and interested community members.
WHEN: July 24, 2018, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
WHERE: Graham County General Services Building, 921 W Thatcher Blvd., Safford, AZ 8554
WHEN: August 3, 2018, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.,
WHERE: ASU Colleges at Lake Havasu City, Room 109, 100 University Way, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403

New Treatment Options for Opioid Misuse, Abuse or Dependence

Opioid Misuse, Abuse and Dependency treatmentThe opioid epidemic is a public health emergency in Arizona. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, an estimated 6,700 possible opioid overdoses have been reported between June 15, 2017 and March 22, 2018, with as many as 16 percent of them fatal. From prescription opioid overuse to abuse of illegally produced opioids like heroin and fentanyl, the epidemic is damaging families across all demographics in our state.

It’s likely you know someone who is affected by opioid use disorder. AHCCCS, as the administrator of a Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant, has increase treatment options.

24/7 Access To Treatment

Arizona now has five agencies providing opioid treatment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to serve individuals who need immediate access to treatment services and connections to ongoing services.

  • Southwest Behavioral Health Services, Kingman Recovery and Observation Unit 1301 W. Beale Street, Kingman, AZ 86401, 928-263-6515
  • West Yavapai Guidance Clinic, Crisis Stabilization Unit 8655 E. Eastridge Drive, Prescott Valley, AZ 86314, 928-445-5211
  • Community Medical Services 2301 W. Northern Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85021, 602-866-9378
  • Community Bridges, East Valley Addiction Recovery Center 560 S. Bellview, Mesa, AZ 85204, 480-461-1711
  • CODAC Health, Recovery and Wellness 380 E. Ft. Lowell Road, Tucson, AZ 85705, 520-202-178

Crisis, Treatment and Support Resources

Services are available to residents in every Arizona county.

If you live in Maricopa County:

  • Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care Member Services:
    602-586-1841 or 1-800-564-5465
  • Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care Crisis Line:
    602-222-9444 or 1-800-631-1314

Stand Together and Recover Centers (STAR) facilitates an opioid support group for ages 18 and older on Wednesdays, 6-7 pm at STAR, 2502 E Washington St. Phoenix, AZ 85034. There is no fee and no referral needed. Call 602-231-0071 for more information.

If you live in Yavapai, Gila, Mohave, Coconino, Navajo or Apache Counties:

  • Health Choice Integrated Care Customer Service:
  • Health Choice Integrated Care Crisis Line:
  • 877-756-4090

If you live in La Pa, Yuma, Pinal, Pima, Graham, Greenlee, Cochise or Santa Cruz Counties:

  • Cenpatico Integrated Care Customer Service:
  • Cenpatico Integrated Care Crisis Line:

Download a printable Getting Help for opioid misuse, abuse or dependence flier to share.

Other Resources:

Centers for Disease Control Opioid Overdose Information

National Institute on Drug Abuse Opioid Information

Arizona Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family Treatment Locator