Government and Legislative Update

General Election Briefing

General Election Briefing 10-2016

AAC Legislative Wrap-Up 

The Legislature adjourned its regular session in the early morning hours of June 14th.
The Governor was successful in getting her Medicaid expansion proposal passed that will draw down significant funding from the federal government over the next few years and expand the population eligible for Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) to 133% of the federal poverty level.The AAC did not taken a position on Medicaid expansion although we began conversations with the Governor's office about consideration for inclusion of chiropractic in AHCCCS and those discussions and perhaps serious consideration will likely consume our attention in the next 12 months.
We partnered with the ACS in support of SB 1362 an ambitious attempt to clarify the non-discrimination provisions of the "unfair claims practices act." Sponsored by chiropractic supporter and one of the AAC's Legislator of Year Senator Rick Murphy, the effort moved further than some expected. It successfully was passed out of the Senate Health Committee, got through the Senate Rules Committee and even received initial approval in Senate floor debate.
But the insurance companies put a heavy push on Senate members and in a Senate floor vote the bill failed by a vote of 11-17 (with 2 absent). We were not finished though. Senator Steve Yarbrough moved for the bill to be reconsidered, a motion that passed on a voice vote and the bill came up again for a floor vote. Unfortunately Einstein's definition of insanity, doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result prevailed and the bill went down 12-16 (with 2 absent).
All in all, however, we had some significant successes in the 2013 session.
The AAC was crafty enough to hedge our bets with regard to SB 1362 and had HB 2490 introduced by Representative John Allen our other legislator of the Year recipient, in the House. This bill would require insurance companies to have a chiropractor available for chiropractic claims in order to receive their certificate for utilization review by the Department of Insurance and would have require that a chiropractor. " . . . review any direct denial of prior authorization of a chiropractic service requested by a chiropractor on the basis of medical necessity." HB 2490 bill passed both chambers overwhelmingly and was signed into law by Governor Brewer. Some might say that was a small victory but we are reminded of the old adage of how one eats an elephant . . . one bite at a time! Incremental gain is critical in the long term and this was clearly an incremental victory.
Another bill requested by the AAC was HB 2408 which would have eliminated the arcane requirement that no two chiropractors could be on the Board of Chiropractic Examiners if they graduated from the same College of Chiropractic. This bill, sponsored by House Health Committee Chair Heather Carter failed to receive a final vote in the Senate and will have to be revisited next session. Research on this said that only two other Boards had this outdated requirement, the Board of Acupuncture and the Board of Optometry. No other health care board in that state has this requirement. We are optimistic that this bill will ultimately pass next year.
The current Board of Examiners boasts all three chiropractors as members of the AAC including two past Presidents, Drs. Jim Badge and Rich Guarino and advanced practice proponent Dr. Greg Katsaros.
We would point out one other success. The Legislature again attempted significant changes in the state's tort system that would have been very harmful to those chiropractors who take accident victims. HB 2238 would have limited the payment that a chiropractor could receive to only the amount that the insurance company would cover for the victim. In other words the chiropractor would be penalized from recovering the full cost of treatment in proceedings against the person who had caused the accident.
HB 2239 would have eliminated the collateral source rule and allowed juries to hear evidence that injured parties' medical bills have been paid by private health insurance without requiring that the defense have their ability to pay those costs admitted into evidence. Again this would be discriminatory to practitioners. With AAC leadership in a broad coalition neither of these bills passed. We will, however, need to remain vigilant on this issue as we expect it to be reintroduced next session.
We continue to show annual success at the Legislature with active participation from our members.