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June 22, 2017

Connection is a weekly e-newsletter from the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association. You can subscribe to our daily blog where we discuss pressing healthcare topics, such as men's health.

In This Week's Issue of Connection:

In The News

Stay up to date with the Arizona daily news on our website and our blog's RSS feed.


Draft of Healthcare Bill is Expected to be Released
Debbie Johnston, Senior Vice President of Policy Development

Senate GOP leaders are expected to release a draft text of their bill to repeal and replace the ACA by the end of this week, with the goal of voting on the bill next week. Leadership has reportedly been sharing policy options with the Congressional Budget Office, and they have expressed optimism that an analysis will be complete early next week. While there has been a lack of clarity around how the bill will differ from the House measure, some of the issues raised by Senators include:

  • The time period for phasing out enhanced federal funding for Medicaid expansion
  • The growth rate for Medicaid under a per capita cap model
  • The size of tax credits to help individuals purchase insurance on the Marketplace
  • State flexibility to waive community rating and essential health benefit requirements

The challenge for Senate leadership is balancing the desire of their most conservative members for a bill that looks very much like the House bill with centrists who have expressed concern that the AHCA dials back insurance coverage too drastically and places states at great financial risk under the changes to Medicaid.

AzHHA staff traveled to Washington D.C. this week to discuss our concerns and potential changes to the AHCA with Senators McCain and Flake. We will continue to monitor the situation this week and will reach out to members when more information about the Senate bill is released.

CMS Proposes Changes to MACRA for 2018
Debbie JohnstonSenior Vice President of Policy Development

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a proposed rule that would update MACRA’s Quality Payment Program requirements for 2018, which would affect the payments providers will receive in 2020. The proposed rule increases the eligibility threshold for MIPS to providers who bill Medicare Part B for more than $90,000 or who care for more than 200 unique Medicare Part B beneficiaries annually. According to CMS, the proposed change would exclude about 134,000 more providers—mostly those who work in small practices and those that practice in rural regions—from MIPS reporting requirements.
CMS also proposes:

  • Implementing a MIPS reporting option that would allow eligible hospital-based providers to use results from their hospital's value-based purchasing measure
  • Extending the option for a 90-day reporting period for MIPS' advancing care information category in 2018, and would allow eligible providers to use the 2014 certified electronic health record (EHR) systems without being penalized. CMS said those who use 2015 certified systems could qualify for bonus payments.

CMS will accept public comments on the proposed rule until August 21st.

Arizona Rural Health Service Awards
Shayna Diamond, Director of Community Affairs

The Arizona Rural Health Service Awards honor outstanding rural health volunteers, professionals, and programs for their dedication and commitment to improving the health of rural residents of our state. Each year the Arizona Rural Health Association (AzRHA) recognizes the award winners at the Annual Arizona Rural Health Conference. Nominations must be submitted to the Awards Committee by Friday, July 7th. Nominators must be current members of the AzRHA. Contact Alison Hughes for more information. 

Webinar: Addressing Health Literacy In Arizona
Shayna Diamond, Director of Community Affairs

Health literacy is not just the ability to read. It involves reading, listening, the ability to ask questions and to make decisions. Healthcare providers, educators, and insurance providers can help improve health outcomes by improving communication. The Cover AZ Coalition will be providing a free webinar on health literacy on Wednesday, June 28th, 10:00-11:30 am. Participants can join the webinar by clicking here.

Point of Pride: Maricopa Ambulance

Earlier this month our member Maricopa Ambulance was named Premier EMS Agency by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and Bureau of EMS and Trauma System. This designation signifies that Maricopa Ambulance has met the requirements for utilizing data to improve patient outcomes for STEMI cardiac patients, stroke, major trauma and out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. The Premier EMS Agency Program ensures patients in Arizona receive standardized, quality prehospital care and transport to a health care intuition equipped and staffed to render appropriate care.