2016 Legislation


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Top 2016 Barto-sponsored Legislation – Except where noted All were signed into law

Mental Health

Arizona spends more than any other state on mental health ($1.2 billion-$600 million of it state $$), but are we getting what we pay for?  Too often the most seriously mentally ill remain untreated, incarcerated, “boarded” for weeks in ERs or homeless.  And so we start….with two main reform emphases: better prisoner transitioning and Family Inclusion:

SB 1439Let’s stop building more prisons.  We won’t need them if we do a better job transitioning the nearly 20,000 prisoners with mental health conditions released each year back into the community.  SB 1439 helps them navigate the complicated mental health system upon release more successfully, which should reduce recidivism for this population by 50%. (The bill was put on hold as the Governor committed to working the issue administratively. Importantly, SB 1439 is not to be confused with the Dept. of Correction’s Maricopa Re-entry Center)

SCR 1005Caregivers of the mentally ill are given voice in SCR 1005.  A first psychotic episode can be terrifying for both patients and their families.  And if the patient is an adult, families can be completely shut out of the process by health care practitioners who use HIPAA as an excuse.  A trio of bills addresses some of these issues, beginning with the Rights of Caregivers Resolution, which sets the stage for the other two.  Passed unanimously – transmitted to the Sec. of State.

SB 1169Can a person with a Mental Health Power of Attorney revoke it while in an incapacitated state? SB 1169 Clarifies that he/she may not.  Incredibly, this happens all too frequently.

SB 1442HIPAA & including families go together! SB 1442 Encourages proper disclosure & communication practices by health care providers – following HIPAA’s intent that the best interest of the patient be considered.  Read Why SB 1442 is So Important – a blogspot by MOMI – Mothers of the Seriously Mentally Ill.

Health Care Reforms

SB 1441  – Long Term Care Ins. rates are out of control.   SB 1441 provides overdue relief to Arizonans who have responsibly purchased LTC policies only to face 58% – 88% premium increases year after year and be priced out of the market or lose their benefits. SB 1441 directs the Dept. of Insurance to protect policyholders from future outrageous rate increases by updating its regulations – utilizing independent actuaries and providing proper consumer notifications and options to consumers.  Watch  video testimony in the House Insurance Committee.

SB 1443The public has a right to know.  Arizona health care professionals are subject to licensure as well as potential disciplinary action by their respective boards, but most board actions – about 70% – are hidden from public view.  SB 1443 increases transparency & accountability by ensuring all board actions & contracted employment openings are posted & available to the public. In 2015 ABC-15 investigator, Dave Biscobing, found serious licensee violations deemed ‘non-discipline’ by the Dental Bd. were hidden from public scrutiny by law.  That was fixed in 2015.  SB 1443 would have addressed the issue for all health boards. (Unfortunately for the public & licensees, the bill was vetoed)

SB 1444Serving the Nursing Profession.   Specific to the Board of Nursing, SB 1444 improves due process protections for nurses facing a complaint to their license at a probable cause meeting by providing the Investigative Report to the licensee 10 days prior to this meeting.  Currently, nurses are not provided the IR, putting them at a disadvantage when defending themselves. The second provision lowers the felony bar from 5 to 3 years for certain felonies before a nurse is eligible to apply for a license.

SB 1445Patients should be treated as unique individuals.  And practitioners should be free to do so without fear of undue discipline by their licensing boards or employers. SB 1445 provides needed balance in today’s rapidly changing health care environment in which physician practices and hospitals are consolidating and physician autonomy is at risk.  SB 1445 protects health care practitioners’ rights to educate and treat patients with legal off-label health care services.  Watch video on the bill here.

SB 1474 –  Children are not commodities to be bought and sold.  SB 1474 prevents the trafficking of baby body parts due to elective abortions in Arizona and prohibits their use for research or experimentation – a practice that was documented through videos whose accuracy was verified by independent forensic analysis and that shocked Americans when they were released last year.  SB 1474 protects human dignity. Signed by Governor Ducey.  Read more on this session’s pro-life bills .

Serving vulnerable adults – expanding jobs 

SB 1102  Protecting vulnerable adults.  Adults under guardianship can be susceptible to actions that are not in their best interest.  Some, like actors Peter Falk’s & Mickey Rooney’s daughters, Catherine Falk and Kerry Rooney – were denied visits by their fathers’ guardians, causing both physical harm and family strife.  Wards who are not-so-famous in Arizona are also vulnerable to such abuses.  Now included in SB 1296, the language strengthens Arizona’s guardianship visitation & notification laws, ensuring close friends and relatives know when a ward is hospitalized.

 SB 1381Free the Grapes!  Supporting Arizona’s growing wine industry & consumer choice.  SB 1381 reforms Arizona’s restrictive & arbitrary direct-to-consumer wine shipment laws, allowing Arizonans the same opportunities as folks in 43 other states to purchase the wines they like directly from the winery – capturing subsequent tax revenues, as well!  Signed by Governor Ducey.  Read more here.

SM 1001Speaking out for the oppressed, SM 1001 and SB 1376 – authorizing the Ariz. Assyrian Genocide Monument – both aim to remember and honor the genocides of Middle Eastern Christians past and those living it today.  If we fail to recognize these genocidal acts and urge Congress to respond accordingly, they are sure to be repeated again and again. (SB 1376 was vetoed, citing concerns RE limited Capitol Mall space)

Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Sen. Nancy Barto’s reforms  often focus on this area of law. Check Nancy’s Legislative page listing all the bills she sponsored this session.  Read a summary of 2016 session highlights here.