2014 Session Synopsis
June 3, 2014 by nancy_barto
SB 1379 - Removing health care red tape: In addition to their jobs, many physicians & other health care professionals regularly treat those in need of care for free but are unable to access or pay for it – but state licensing restrictions make it more difficult for them to do so within our own country than across the oceans. SB 1379 streamlines the process for voluntary health professionals wishing to serve in Arizona. SIGNED by the Governor.
SB 1308 - Obamacare Navigator Oversight: Navigators and (CACs) Certified Application Counselors – those assisting with health insurance sign-ups through the Obamacare Exchanges – have access to a plethora of sensitive financial information. SB 1308 & HB 2508 - a House version proposed by Rep. Lovas, help hold them accountable and will reduce the likelihood of ID theft and fraud by requiring background checks and licensure. Read more on this issue here. SIGNED by the Governor.
SB 1225 - Women deserve more than the “happy-gram” - more important, lives will be saved as a result of SB 1225. Here’s the story: According to the American College of Radiology, about 50% of women have dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue makes it harder for doctors to see cancer on mammograms because both dense breast tissue and tumors look white. Consequently, normal dense breast tissue can hide masses or tumors. Thanks to SB 1225, women with dense breast tissue will be told this information and be better informed about whether to seek additional diagnostics. Read Barto press release here. Learn more at AreYouDense.org. SIGNED by the Governor.
SB 1061 - Facilitating Adoptions: The process in place for over 20 years for establishing paternity in cases where a couple is not married and the woman wishes to place the child for adoption, was thrown into confusion recently when a judge used a conflicting adoption statute time frame for this narrow purpose. SB 1061 fixes it so children can attain permanency in these adoption cases. Passed both chambers unanimously. SIGNED by the Governor.
(The following four bills pertain to the Arizona Medical Board. The public release of the 192 p. Ombudsman’s Report last August, revealed serious lack of transparency and oversight within the agency – and documented the Executive Director’s disregard of over 25 licensure laws and rules.)
SB 1380 – Medical Board Reforms: Whistle-blowing former AMB employees filed a complaint with the Ombudsman alleging the former Executive Director was not following appropriate licensing laws. The Report substantiated all of the relevant complaints. SB 1380 updates, clarifies & codifies the necessary licensing protocols (i.e. primary source verification practices that ALL other states follow), but – importantly – enables the Board to update their rules where it makes sense to do so, helping to streamline the licensing process). SIGNED by the Governor.
SB 1381 – Med. Bd. – Funding to check those physician licenses: At least 2,043 licenses were approved during the two year period (beginning Oct. 1, 2011) when the AMB licensing staff was directed not to follow licensing laws. Those licensees’ credentials have still not been verified. The bill appropriates funding from the Board’s own funds (not the General Fund) to outsource that scope of work to ensure that unqualified physicians were not granted licenses. SIGNED by the Governor.
SB 1051 – Pro Bono Physician Fix: SB 1051 allows physicians who hold unrestricted licenses from other states to provide free health care in Arizona for 60 days/year. This bill updates the statute so physicians who had been receiving PB Registrations may continue to provide free care in Arizona without undue red tape. SIGNED into law and effective immediately.
SB 1345 – Physicians Assistants Bd Reforms : The Arizona Medical Board and the board regulating Physician Assistants share the same Executive Director. When the 2013 Ombudsman’s Report became public, members of the PA Board felt they should have had more of a voice regarding Executive Director oversight. SB 1345 addresses these concerns – enabling the PA Board’s involvement in ED hiring and retention decisions and increasing communication & transparency between the Boards, their administration and the public. SIGNED by the Governor.
SB 1038 - Child Relocation: When parents divorce and don’t agree on the parenting arrangements, the courts get involved and decide what is in the best interest of the child. In these cases and when divorced parents share court-ordered parenting time, current law inadequately protects the best interests of the child when one parent decides to move without consideration of the parenting plan. SB 1038 would have improved the process – protecting the due process rights of the parents and the best interests of the child. Passed Senate unanimously. Narrowly Failed in House 29-29.
Where did the money go?
The State budget has General Fund spending $482 million above FY 14, for a total of $9.83 billion. The Republican Legislature continues to prioritize education and safety of Arizona’s children, with a full 75% of the new money going to three areas: K-12, higher education, and the new Dept. of Child Safety.
K-12 – Total K-12 spending increased by $187.6 million
- Child Safety – DCS spending increased by $120 million for a total of $845 million for DCS in ’15
SB 1224 (child safety positions) Appropriated $6,859,300, funding 192 full-time employees early in the session to CPS in this fiscal year – FY 2014, not counting an add’l 112 investigators, caseworkers and support staff in Special Session for the new Dept. of Child Safety (DCS).
- Higher Education – Total University spending increased by $45.0 million
Additional areas of new FY 15 spending: o Developmental Disabilities/Skilled Nursing 2% rate increase $ 9.6 million o DES – Long Term Care $ 23.2 million o Military Installation Fund $ 2.5 million o Tourism $ 2.0 million o Forester (Wild Fire Prevention) $ 1.9 million o TGEN Funding $ 3.0 million o Yarnell Hill Memorial $ 0.5 million o Yuma Veterans’ Home $ 9.2 million o Non-University Building Renewal $ 12.0 million o DPS and Dept. of Corrections Retirement $ 7.8 million
Click here for a complete list of 2014 session sponsored bills.
Senator Barto’s 2013 bills:
SB 1115 / HB 2045 – Health Care Price Transparency – SIGNED by the Governor. How much does health care really cost? The vetoed SB 1115 cracked the door open to more transparent pricing for health care services when patients choose to pay for them directly, without a third party payer. HB 2045 was amended to include the provisions of SB 1115 and signed into law. See What’s it Cost? Check out which hospitals are complying with the law. PLUS, read what Forbes’ just wrote about Arizona’s bill.
SB 1374 - AZ Board of Behavioral Health Examiners reform – SIGNED by the Governor. Public testimony at the Board’s sunset hearing last Fall confirmed this Board’s continuing dysfunctional actions affecting current Licensees and individuals seeking licensure to work as licensed Substance Abuse or Marriage & Family Counselors and Social Workers in Arizona. SB 1374 comprehensively overhauls this Board’s licensure & reciprocity processes and structure.
SB 1375 - Behavioral Health treatment for Foster children – SIGNED by the Governor. If you’re a foster parent you know that most children in CPS have experienced trauma caused by neglect and/or some form of serious physical or sexual abuse. These children very often require counseling at some point in order to deal with that abuse and experience lasting healing and attain permanent homes, as well. SB 1375 takes a comprehensive, focused look at how the current system is providing mental health treatment to these children at the levels they need and consider an integrative physical and mental health care system alternative.
SB 1108 - Foster families & immunizations – SIGNED by the Governor. With over 14,000 children in the CPS system in Arizona, there is a serious shortage of foster parents to lovingly shelter these kiddos. SB 1108 allows parents who, for whatever reason, choose not to immunize their own children, to become licensed foster parents to children needing homes.
SB 1072 - Relocation reform – passed the Senate – passed House committee, failed to advance to final floor votes in the House. When divorced parents share court-ordered parenting time, current law inadequately protects parents when one of them decides to pick up and move without considering whether it impacts the best interest of the child. SB 1072 would have improved the process – protecting the rights of the both parents and best interests of the child.
SB 1073 - Parenting time hearings – SIGNED by the Governor. Cases can now take months for an initial temporary custody hearing, denying the non-custodial parent their rights to participate in their child’s upbringing. SB 1073 ensures that Judges assigned new child custody cases hold an evidentiary hearing within 60 days of a parent’s filing – just as the current court rules recommend. Governor Brewer signed SB 1073 into law on April 3rd, 2013.
SB 1278 – HOA Roadway bill – SIGNED by the Governor. SB 1278 clarifies that PUBLIC roadways within HOA communities are regulated only by one set of laws: those set forth by their municipality or county. Effective in new HOA communities only beginning in 2015. Passed the Senate 22-7; Passed House Govt. 6-2; awaits House floor votes. Why is this bill needed? Homeowners within some HOA communities are often fined by their HOA for violating HOA CC&Rs by parking in front of their own home on a public street, where it is legal to park according to their city’s ordinance. This is confusing and unjust for homeowners who may have nowhere else to park.
See highlights of bills passed in the 2013 Session: click here.