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2014 Legislative Session  Barto bills

SB 1379 - Voluntary Physicians:  In addition to their regular jobs, many health care professionals love to serve those in need of health care but who are unable to access or pay for it - but because of licensing restrictions it can be more difficult for them to do so within the United States than overseas.  SB 1379 simplifies the process for qualified health professionals wishing to serve in Arizona.  Passed Senate.  Awaits House final vote.

SB 1308 - Obamacare Navigators:  Navigators and (CACs) Certified Application Counselors -  those assisting people to sign up for health insurance through the Obamacare Exchanges - are not federally required to be licensed or obtain background checks – even though they have access to sensitive financial records.  SB 1308 & HB 2508 - a House version proposed by Rep. Lovas, require both.   Read more on this issue here.   HB 2508 passed both chambers.  Awaits Governor action.

SB 1225 - Women’s Right to Know - Mammography:  Women who undergo breast mammography in Arizona will have full disclosure regarding their breast health.  According to the American College of Radiology, an estimated 50% of women have dense breast tissue.  The American Cancer Society believes dense breast tissue may increase the risk of breast cancer.   Dense breast tissue also makes it harder for doctors to see cancer on mammograms. On those mammograms, both dense breast tissue and masses or tumors look white. Consequently, normal dense breast tissue can hide masses or tumors.  With more information, women with dense breast tissue have the option to seek additional tests, such as an ultrasound or MRI, to screen for breast cancer.  Read Barto press release here. Learn more at  AreYouDense.org.   SIGNED by the Governor.

(The following four bills pertain to the Arizona Medical Board. The need for the bills became evident when the 192 p. Ombudsman’s Report was made public last August, revealing a serious lack of transparency, communication and oversight within the agency – as well as the Executive Director’s disregard for physician licensure laws and rules.)

SB 1380 Medical Board:  Former Ariz. Medical Bd. employees filed a complaint with the Ombudsman alleging the former Executive Director was not following over 25 licensing rules and statutes.  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 (i.e. adjusting renewal times & defining exception protocols).   Other provisions address better communication between the Board, their administration and the public in order to prevent a recurrence of these issues, clarify anonymous complaint & ED complaint dismissal practices, investigator training and limit board member terms.    Passed House and Senate.  Awaits Governor action.

SB 1381 Med. Bd. Supplemental appropriation:  At least 2,043 licenses were approved during the two year time frame (beginning Oct. 1, 2011) when the AMB licensing staff was directed not to follow licensing laws.  Those licensees’ credentials have still not been verified.  This bill appropriates funding from the Board’s own funds (not the General Fund) to outsource that scope of work to help ensure that unqualified physicians were not granted licenses. The current licensing staff has their hands full with current license applications.  Passed Senate. Awaits House final vote.

SB 1051 Pro Bono Registrations: SB 1051 will allow physicians who hold unrestricted licenses from other states to provide free health care in Arizona for 60 days/year.   The Ombudsman’s Report revealed that statute did not  reflect what had been, and is considered to be, appropriate current practice regarding PB Registrations: not requiring primary source verification of certain credentials.  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.  It has an emergency clause so it will go into effect upon the  Governor’s signature.  Passed Senate. Awaits House final vote.

SB 1345 Physicians Assistants:  The Medical Board and the Board of Physicians Assistants share the same Executive Director.  When the 2013 Ombudsman’s Report became public, members of the PA Board felt strongly they should have had a voice in regards to the disposition of their Executive Director – whether and how the ED would be retained, disciplined and/or replaced.   SB 1345 increases the PA Board’s involvement in Executive Director hiring and retention decisions and makes several other changes that increase communication & transparency between the Boards, the Boards’ administration and the public.  Passed both Chambers.  Awaits Governor action.

SB 1061 - Adoption; Paternity:  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 corrects the discrepancy so children can attain permanency in these adoption cases.  Passed both chambers unanimously.  Awaits conference committee for technical changes. 

SB 1038 - Parenting Time; 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, when divorced parents share court-ordered parenting time, current law inadequately protects parents and the best interests of the child when one of them decides to pick up and move without considering whether it impacts 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.  Failed in House 29-29.

Click here for a complete list of my 2014 session sponsored bills.

Senator Barto’s 2013 bills:

SB 111/ HB 2045 - Health Care Price TransparencySIGNED 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?

SB 1374 - AZ Board of Behavioral Health Examiners reformSIGNED 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.