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.

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One thought on “Results of the 2018 Arizona State Legislative Session”

  1. I am one of the 200,000 Americans diagnosed with Narcolepsy; an incurable neurological disorder in which the brain is unable to regulate sleep-wake cycles. I rely on taking medication several times a day just to stay awake. Unfortunately, I still suffer from overwhelming daytime sleepiness and interrupted nighttime sleep.
    Having such a rare illness has always caused hiccups in my healthcare, most often delaying refilling my medications. The new changes to AHCCCS have made this an even greater burden. Medications I have been taking for years are suddenly being denied and referred to behavioral health.
    Let me clarify once more; Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder, not a mental illness. ln the meantime, I am unable to drive, stay awake throughout a day, or complete normal daily activities. All due to the changes to AHCCCS stemmed from Arizona’s ignorance of illnesses that affect many of its citizens which leads to the denial of life-saving therapies.

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