GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

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3/15/2022

Healthcare Day at the Capitol

 

Healthcare Day represents a consolidation of many health-related organizations that descended on the Arizona Legislature on February 16th, 2022. The AZ Nurses assembled at The Arizona State Capitol Rose Garden. AzNA's CEO Dawna Cato and AzNA's lobbyist Kathy Busby were among other nurse leaders to welcome participants, provide direction, and answer questions. 

To prepare, a Zoom conference took place about a week before Healthcare Day. The prep session was helpful to learn about the process, what to expect, and become familiar with the essential bills we would focus on. AzNA's Political Action Committee (PAC) follows health-related bills and provides direction for anyone interested in participating. 

New participants were paired with experienced participants as we visited the legislators in our legislative districts. We provided the legislators with prepared bill information and spoke about how the bills impact us or our patients. Ready material about priority legislation gave everyone a united focus. This year the following bills were targeted as priority legislation:

  • HB2434 Surgical Smoke Evacuation in the OR. Smoke from burning tissue is full of carcinogenic and mutagenic cells and can include 150 hazardous chemicals, 16 of which are on the EPA Priority Pollutant List, and likely exposes OR staff to biological (human) contaminants including aerosolized blood. 

    • This bill requires outpatient facilities and hospitals, beginning July 2023, to adopt and implement policies preventing exposure to surgical smoke by using a smoke evacuation system for each procedure generating surgical smoke. This system is in place at some facilities already.

    • It is a low-cost correction is expected to pass both houses.

  • HB2691 Healthcare Workforce: Grant Programs. AZ currently ranks in the top 5 states for the greatest shortage of nurses and is further exacerbated by COVID. The current trajectory is not sustainable and puts all Arizonians' health care delivery at risk.

    • If passed, this multi-directed bill improves the short-term and long-term healthcare workforce across the state through education, training, and retention of skilled nurses and healthcare employees.

    • As of March 7th, AzNA's coalition healthcare workforce bill awaits a hearing in the Senate Appropriations committee.

  • HB2635 & SB1311 Assault; Health Care Worker; Prevention. Workplace violence against nurses and other health care workers is a disturbing and ongoing problem. 

    • The "mirror bills" seek to prevent assaults in hospitals and free-standing emergency and urgent care centers by requiring those institutions with 50 or more employees to:

      • Develop a workplace violence policy that provides for investigations of all assaults, logging and tracking the assaults, assisting the victims in reporting if so desired by the victim,

      • Review the policy and logs annually to determine if corrective measures may be taken to reduce assaults and prohibit retaliation against a victim for reporting the assault internally or externally.

    • Both bills successfully passed out of their respective originating chambers. At this point, we are awaiting one of the bills to be scheduled for a Health and Human Services committee hearing in the crossover chamber to advance the bill toward passage. We anticipate a substantial update on these bills next week.

 

Be informed, see how the legislative process work, watch for announcements in January – Join us in 2023! AzPANA offers scholarships to members interested in attending.

Carolyn Bennett

Governmental Affairs