The Legislature completed the Regular Session last week.  They’ve passed numerous bills.  The Governor has signed many of them, but some are still waiting for her consideration and signature.  Below are the new laws that have been signed by the Governor that are related to our mission:

  • HB 2585: Controlled Substances; Marijuana; Monitoring

This law requires the ADHS to share our list of current Medical Marijuana Registration Cardholders with the Arizona Board of Pharmacy’s Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program database.  The Board will then add the data to their monitoring database, which includes data regarding the other controlled substances.  It would allow doctors (who are considering prescribing patients medication) to check if the patient is a medical marijuana registration card-holder.  The idea is to help doctors determine the best course of treatment for patients.  It basically would treat medical marijuana just like all the other controlled substances by including the information in the Pharmacy Board’s database.

This new law will allow baked food (not that’s not considered “potentially hazardous” as defined by our rules) to be prepared in a home kitchen and sold for commercial purposes beginning July 20.  It’ll provide self-employment opportunities to folks that might not otherwise be able to find work, and for supplemental income for others.  For example, the more than 900 or so group homes for folks that have developmental or intellectual disabilities would be able to start up a home cottage industry like a small oatmeal cookie business and sell their food to local grocers.  We’ll be helping to facilitate the use of healthy recipes as part of the program as well as set up an electronic registration database that we can use to communicate electronically with participants.

  • HB 2213: Intellectually Disabled Terminology

This bill was long overdue in Arizona.  The bill replaces the “the R-word” in state statutes with more appropriate terms.  A special shout-out to Special Olympics Arizona for making this happen.

The bill charges us with establishing rules and protocols to coordinate a state-wide stroke system of care.  We’ve already established some stroke centers in AZ and we’ll be developing various rules and protocols regarding the transportation of patients to hospitals based on several criteria.  These protocols help transport patients to the closest appropriate hospital for treatment based on the severity of the injuries.  Currently, there are no stroke specific guidelines for suspected stroke victims.

  • HB 2634: Health Care Institutions

This legislation will help kick off a serious effort at ADHS to better integrate behavioral health and primary care for patients by giving us exempt rulemaking authority (until July of 2013) to change our licensing rules (exempt rulemaking is the “diamond lane” for rules).  The bill directs ADHS to revise rules to reduce regulatory and monetary burdens and to facilitate the integration of healthcare.

  • SB 1248: Dual Licensure for Hospitals

This is another helpful law that will streamline our rules by enhancing integrated care by reducing the licensing burden on health care institutions. Right now, hospitals that provide psychiatric services need 2 licenses.  After we’re done revising our rules they’ll only need 1 license.

This new law expands the definition of abortion to include “any means,” among other changes to statute.  ADHS will now license about 12 additional abortion clinics as a result of the definition change.  These 12 clinics are already licensed as outpatient treatment clinics- so our job will be to ensure that they also comply with our abortion clinic rules.

  • SB 1025: Arizona State Hospital Fingerprinting Requirements

This new law prohibits people that have been convicted of certain criminal offenses from working at the AZ State Hospital. It also requires that all ASH employees and volunteers get a “Level 1” fingerprint clearance card in order to ensure compliance with the new restrictions.  The list of offenses that make an employee or volunteer ineligible are located in ARS 41-1758.07.  The new law states, “A state hospital employee or volunteer must have a valid fingerprint clearance card issued pursuant to section 41-1758.07 OR must apply for a fingerprint clearance card within seven working days after beginning employment or performing volunteer work.”  Level 1 Clearance Cards are good for 6 years. DPS routinely runs cardholders through their database to check for new convictions, and we’re automatically notified when there’s a conviction of one of the disqualifying offenses.

We’ll need to move quickly because the new law takes effect at the end of July.  We’ll be hiring a vendor to collect the fingerprints while our team is at work.  We’re also working a way to pay for collecting and running the prints so there won’t be an out-of-pocket expense.

  • Budget Highlights: SB1612: General Appropriations; SB1614: State Budget Procedures; SB1615: Consolidation of State Agencies; SB1616: Budget Reconciliation; SB1619: Health Budget Reconciliation

I won’t go into the details for these- but here are the basics:

1.     Mandatory furloughs are eliminated in 2011 and 2012.  Agencies can still use them to meet budget requirements.

2.     Employee/Employer retirement contribution rates go to 53%/47% from the current 50:50.

3.     The Arizona Biomedical Disease Research Commission will be transferred to the ADHS.

4.     Children’s Rehabilitation Services (CRS) is officially transferred to AHCCCS.

5.     Vital Records will become self-funded.

6.     County contributions for residents of the Sexually Violent Persons unit at the Hospital increases to 50% from the current 25%.