Arizona Gets New Laws Protecting Medical Access and Affordable Housing

More Republican legislators have announced that their bills have been signed into law, including State Representative Selina Bliss (R-Prescott), who created a bill to extend an at-home medical treatment program for Arizonans.

“Save time, save money, stay home – for some medical conditions we see better outcomes if patients are able to receive acute care services at home, as opposed to having to remain in a hospital,” shared Bliss (pictured above).

HB 2042 & 2043 – Medical Access

First to pass the finish line was HB 2042, which extends the expiration date of the Acute Care Services at Home Pilot Program (ACHPP). In 2021, the legislature enacted the program which the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) was required to develop.

Acute care is when a patient receives treatment for a brief yet severe illness or injury. The program allowed Arizonans to get that treatment from a state hospital via telehealth rather than going to the physical building. The hospital’s administrator is responsible for ensuring that patients still receive a comparable level of treatment they would have received on the premise. Patients could not undergo surgery nor receive intensive care, behavioral health, or perinatal services at home.

However, the law stated that the ACHPP would automatically repeal on December 31st, 2024. Yet, Bliss’s bill officially pushed that date back to January 1st, 2027.

During a Senate Health and Human Services meeting, lobbyist Steve Barclay spoke on behalf of Mayo Clinic, which began using the program in 2021. He explained that the clinic wanted the date expansion to continue collecting data on how to give care to remote patients best. He said this expansion should not cost the state any money.

Moreover, this was not the only medical bill from Bliss that Governor Katie Hobbs (D) signed into law Tuesday. HB 2043 stipulates that starting in 2024, a physician assistant (PA) who has worked at least 8,000 hours of certified clinical practice may begin collaborating with other physicians. Under Arizona law, a PA may provide medical services when acting within a supervision agreement, but now experienced assistants can operate in a more independent role. Additionally, the physician the PA collaborates with does not have to be physically present when medical services are provided, but only if the provision is within the assistant’s experience level.

Bliss said allowing PAs to act more independently will help Arizona’s healthcare worker shortages.

“The law addresses healthcare worker shortages by allowing PAs to perform appropriate and agreed upon medical services based on their education, training, and clinical experience. The advance practice nurses entered into collaborative agreements with physician providers two years ago, and I believe it was time that the PAs do so as well,” said Bliss.

Both bills received bipartisan support in the House and Senate.

HB 2547 – Zoning Ordinances

Under Arizona law, if a city council is going to adopt a zoning ordinance or amendment, it must first consider a report on the impacts it will have on property rights, individual liberties, and costs in the area. However, HB 2547 by House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Peoria) adds to this report a requirement that the city considers how the ordinance will impact the costs of building houses for sale and rent, a description of any data the rule was based on, and any less costly alternatives to the ordinance that would accomplish the same goal. The law does not prohibit a city from adopting the ordinance after taking in the report.

“Zoning ordinances directly affect affordable housing. This new law will help us keep cities & towns both educated & honest,” Toma said.

While HB 2547 passed along party lines through the House but received bipartisan support in the Senate.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Selina Bliss” by Selina Bliss. Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.





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