Direct Care Contracts: Cheap Non-Insurance Plans Could Put Patients at Risk (video)

Banner University Medical Center

In the Health and Human Services Committee, we have heard a few different insurance plans that would be cheaper and less comprehensive alternatives to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

With SB1107, healthcare moves into the gig economy. SB1107 covers direct primary care agreements, a non-insurance alternative to the ACA.  In Arizona, people are already allowed to make one-on-one contracts with a healthcare provider for certain services for a designated mount of money per month.

This bill clarifies existing law and says that these contracts are not insurance and, therefore, not regulated by the Arizona Department of insurance. It also says that you can have contracts with doctors, physicians assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, dentists, and physical therapists.

If you take this to it’s illogical extreme, you could have multiple contracts with different providers for different menus of services. Unless you are really good at contract law, you could end up having several contracts, paying monthly bills to each of these providers and still not getting the care that you need. Since these plans are not insurance, you would not be able to take your complaints to a bureaucrat at an insurance company or at the Department of Insurance.

Direct current primary care agreements are supposed to fill a niche in the healthcare market. The ACA is too expensive, particularly for sole proprietors. These are business people who are their business. Professional people, consultants, artists and musicians could all be sole proprietors.

Continue reading Direct Care Contracts: Cheap Non-Insurance Plans Could Put Patients at Risk (video)

Protect Patients: It’s time for Cannabis Testing in AZ (video)

marijuana

Thirty-four states have some form of legal marijuana. Arizona is the only state that has no quality control testing for contaminants (like pesticides) or for make-up (how much THC, CBDs, etc.)

Cannabis testing died at the end of the session in 2018 during a flurry of negotiations regarding several marijuana reform bills. It is back in 2019 as SB1494, which passed the House Health and Human Services Committee last week. This is a clean cannabis testing bill with no other issues attached.

Arizona has 200,000 medical marijuana patients who purchased 61 tons of marijuana and related marijuana products, like edibles and concentrates, in 2018. Ours is the third largest program in the country… and the only one with no quality control testing.

In committee, the governmental liaison for the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) Shannon Whitaker said that they don’t know how to do quality control testing for marijuana and want more specifics on what to do. I asked if anyone at ADHS had looked at the testing standards and programs from the other 33 states, and she said, “No”. Looking at how other health departments are testing samples of marijuana could be very helpful in setting up the Arizona program. Just sayin’.

Before I voted “yes” on SB 1494, I talked with the lobbyists on both sides of the issue, medical marijuana patient and NORML representative Mikel Weisser, and former ADHS Director and current Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association Will Humble.  Humble, who wrote the current medical marijuana rules, said that testing is in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA). He had planned to write testing rules back in 2011, but he was pressed for time with a 120 day window to write all of the rules. He added that he “was getting beat up from all sides” during the process. (I confessed that I was blogging about the card costs, which are the highest in the country.) Humble supports SB1494 but adds that ADHS has the authority to write rules on testing, even without SB1494.

ADHS is sitting on $60 million in card fees that can be spent only on the medical marijuana program. It’s time to protect patients. It’s time for Arizona to spend some of those AMMA funds to write the rules and set up testing.

SB1494 was debated at length in the House Health and Human Services Committee last Friday and passed unanimously. Since almost everything we do is on video, you can watch the debate on the AZLeg website. Click on Archived Meetings and scroll down to House Health and Human Services on March 29, 2018. You have time to voice your opinion on Request to Speak.

Look for amendments and a rousing debate on this in the coming weeks.

Legislators Should Stand with #RedForEd: No New Tax Giveaways (video)

The Arizona House Ways and Means Committee is like an extended game of tax giveaway wack-a-mole. I have lost count how many tax giveaway bills Republicans have passed since January.

This week, we heard SB1027, which dramatically increases a tax credit that currently benefits only poor children with chronic diseases or physical disabilities.

Tax credits take money out of the general fund. SB1027 would dramatically expand this tax credit from helping poor children with certain medical conditions to helping *anyone* of any age and any income who has a chronic illness or physical disability.

This bill is overly broad, and it has an unknown cost and no sunset date. Most of the committee testimony focused on one physical therapy center and gym in Tucson that serves clients with Parkinson’s disease, but there are many chronic diseases, most notably diabetes. More than 600,000 Arizonans have diabetes, and another 1.8 million have prediabetes.

The public health problem of helping people lead healthier lives with chronic disease goes far beyond what would be fiscally responsible to fund through tax credits. Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial insurance cover some services. If more is needed, the Health and Human Services Committee should look at it– instead of going to Ways and Means for a tax credit.

Continue reading Legislators Should Stand with #RedForEd: No New Tax Giveaways (video)

#AZLeg Should Include Healthcare in Workforce Development (video)

The Arizona House has begun debating HB2657, a high-tech workforce development bill which would funnel money through the Arizona Commerce Authority to community colleges to train workers in “high-demand” fields. The CEO of the Commerce Authority would manage the fund created by this bill, and they would determine what to fund.

As it is currently written the bill would “support career and technical education programs and courses that prepare a capable workforce for manufacturing in information technology and related industries.”

Why are we focusing only on manufacturing, financial services and technology? Previously, we saw this with CTED (formerly JTED) classes. In the last session, proposed legislation would have funneled 9th grade students into select industries like machine tooling, aerospace, and automotive services, while they left healthcare, coding and other careers by the wayside.

To meet the needs of our state, workforce development could and should go beyond tech. Why is healthcare not included in HB2657? We have a need for expanded access to care particularly in rural Arizona, and we do not have enough medical and health professionals to fill the gaps. We could train rural Arizonans to be community health workers, certified nursing assistants and home health aides. When I taught health education at the University of Arizona, I had many students from rural Arizona, particularly tribal lands, who were studying in Tucson and planned to take their new skills back to rural Arizona to help their people. How can we foster this?

Arizona has five rural counties — Cochise, Gila, Graham, Santa Cruz and LaPaz– that are considered maternal and child health deserts because of lack of medical personnel and health services in those areas. The face of premature birth in Arizona is young, brown and rural. Every preemie birth that is funded by AHCCCS costs the state between $500,000 – $1 million.

We could improve access to care, foster workforce development, save money and tackle urban/rural health disparities if we put as much effort into the healthcare workforce as we do into tech.

[In the photo, I am posing with the doctor of the day from Banner Univerity Medical Center.]

Republicans Push Ideological Bills through House in Late-Night Agendas (video)

This is the last week to hear House bills in the House and the Senate bills in the Senate. This means that despite the fact that the Democrats hold 48% of the seats in the Arizona House, we are spending this week hearing hundreds of nonsense bills from the Republican Party. How many rights can they restrict or how many taxes can they cut for the rich in just a few days?

Although we have had several weeks with very little action on the floor of Arizona House, like college freshman facing a big exam, the Republicans are going to push forward in after- hours meetings.

In Ways and Means on Wednesday, we heard another Republican run at “almost revenue neutral” tax conformity (which would generate $10 million instead of $0. The $0 plan was vetoed by Governor Ducey.) HB2526 passed along party lines with Chairman Ben Toma calling full tax conformity (which would generate $150-200 million for the state’s general fund) an “illegal tax increase.” When I explained my vote, I reminded everyone that the Legislative Council ruled full conformity was not a tax increase. If HB2526 passes, everyone who has filed their income taxes already will have to do an amendment; it also decouples our tax forms from the feds, which makes filing less convenient. The Republicans also passed HB2703 to delay the filing date for state income taxes to June. This just gives them more time to push their tax cut agenda.

In the Health and Human Services Committee today, we are hearing three anti-vaccine bills: HB2470, HB2471 and HB2472. Similar bills were killed in the Senate Health Committee. I’m not sure of the outcome in the House committee.

You can still make your opinions known on social media and on the Request to Speak System. Pro- and anti-vaccine people are running neck and neck on RTS when I looked yesterday.

The Republican and Democratic Caucuses are scheduled to meet from 3-9pm on Thursday. What bills are so important that we have to be there at 9 o’clock at night— when no constituents are present? Are the Republicans intending to force us to vote after 9 o’clock to pass some of their legislation? I’m going to take issue with that if that happens. We have accomplished almost nothing on the House. Only 50 bills have voted on and passed in six weeks. Only two of those 50 bills were democratic bills, although we control 48% of the House.

What bills are they leaving behind in the rush to pass their ideological measures? The Equal Rights Amendment, for one. Speaker Bowers told me in a private meeting that he would do *nothing* to advance the Equal Rights Amendment. That means we have to do it on our own. Tell them you want HCR2030 passed in Arizona!

Are Unregulated Health Insurance Plans Good for #AZ Consumers?

Healthcare forum

In the Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday, Feb 14, we are hearing a long list of bills including two about health insurance.

HB2375 would extend short-duration insurance to three years. This insurance is currently capped at one year because it is seen as a stop-gap measure for people who are between jobs or disconnected from insurance for some reason.

HB2376 relates to association health care plans for small businesses and sole proprietors. This bill allows them to band together and buy insurance as a group. A concern with this idea is regarding the quality of insurance that will be purchased and how that will impact workers who will be included under these plan.

Will association health plans cover essential health benefits, like the Affordable Care Act does? Will they cover people with pre-existing conditions? Will they have lifetime insurance caps? Will coverage be determined by the employer’s “deeply held religious beliefs”?

These association health insurance plans will NOT be regulated by the Arizona Department of Insurance. I fear that this will be Wild West Health Insurance, which will be cheap but not comprehensive.

We still have a problem in this country with medical bankruptcy. People buy the insurance they can afford, rather than the insurance they need. Cheap plans don’t offer full coverage and can leave patients in dire financial straits.

On the macro-economic level, these plans could lure people out of the Healthcare Marketplace and weaken the system.

If you are on Request to Speak at the AZLeg website, please offer an opinion on 2375 and 2376.

Blue Wave Washed over #AZLeg: Seven GOP Incumbents Lose Seats

Arizona House Democratic Caucus, 54th Leg.

Since the 2018 Midterm Election, pundits have been judging the size and very existence of the predicted Blue Wave . To determine if the Blue Wave of newly elected Democrats was a tsunami or a just ripple, the media has focused primarily on Congressional and gubernatorial races–with little or no mention of state legislatures.

With voter turnout at 60%, there is no doubt that a Blue Wave washed over Arizona on Nov. 6, 2018. Democratic women won major victories: US Senate (Kyrsten Sinema), CD2 (Ann Kirkpatrick), Corporation Commission (Sandra Kennedy), Superintendent of Public Instruction (Kathy Hoffman), and Secretary of State (Katie Hobbs). The incumbent Republicans for three of these seats– Corporation Commission (Tom Forese), Superintendent of Public Instruction (Diane Douglas), and Secretary of State (Michelle Reagan)– all lost in the primary. Now, Democrats will hold those seats.

In the Arizona House, the Blue Wave was more of a tsunami. Seven Republican incumbents will not be returning to the Arizona Legislature in January 2019.

Continue reading Blue Wave Washed over #AZLeg: Seven GOP Incumbents Lose Seats

On Nov 6: Vote as if Your Rights Depend on It

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

Nov. 6, 2018 is a day that millions of Democrats have been waiting for and working toward for the past two years. Since President Trump’s election, people have been organizing and working hard toward nationwide Democratic victories in 2018. Every Presidential Tweet and every backward policy announcement made us cringe but also made us stronger in our resolve to take back our government and our country.

With door-to-door canvassing, postcards, and e-newsletters, my team has reached out to more than 80,000 LD9 voters. With social media, the reach is well over 100,000.

On Nov. 6, it is your turn. I hope you will consider voting to re-elect me– Pamela Powers Hannley– to the Arizona House of Representatives.

When I ran for office in 2016, I said I wanted be your voice—the voice of the people—in the Arizona Legislature. And that is exactly what I did.

I used my voice, my votes, my amendments, and my bills to fight for the rights and wellbeing of workers, patients, teachers, students, women and the underserved.

It’s time for the Arizona Legislature to fund the People’s To-Do list instead of the corporate wish list. It’s time that we funded education, healthcare, infrastructure and safety and security. That would economic development. Continue reading…

To learn more… about my plans and ideas, check out these blog posts links and related videos:

Pamela Powers Hannley: Your Voice in the Arizona House

Balanced Public Health Policy Should Be Legislature’s Goal (video)

LD9 Debate Reveals Stark Contrasts between Democrat & Republican Candidates (video)

Gosh Darn Podcast Interview with Rep. PPH Delves Deep into Education Views

Arizona Daily Star Endorses #LD9 Democrats (video)

#RedForEd: Don’t Get Mad. Get Even on Nov 6 (video)

Where I stand on the issues… check out these links for information and videos on specific issues.

Overall look at issues here.

Specifics about education and funding for it here and here.

Check out news stories and interviews here.

Many have endorsed me… check out this link.

As a progressive Democrat and a Clean Elections candidate, I accept no big money donations or dirty money. As a result, I am beholden only to you, the voters– and not to wealthy national donors or special interest groups.

I want to continue to be your voice– the voice of the people– in the Arizona House. Our work is not done. Please vote for my on Nov. 6, 2018. Thank you so much for your support.

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Healthcare & Equality: Two Big Events on Nov 1 (video)

ERA

When your state and your Congressional district are being targeted by both major political parties and several special interest groups, the days leading up to Election Day are fast-paced as national groups and speakers come to Arizona.

Nov. 1 is a big day for political events.

Tucsonans Talk Back to McSally & Trump Jr.

As Donald Trump Jr. stumps for Congresswoman Martha McSally in Maricopa County, Tucsonans will be protesting in front of her office on Broadway Blvd. Organized by Arizona Healthcare Voters, the purpose of the rally is to call out McSally’s lies about her votes on the Affordable Care Act and on healthcare in general. Media advisory here.

As the ranking member of the Arizona House Health Committee, I am happy to be participating in this event hosted by Arizona Healthcare Voters.

The US has the most expensive and least effective healthcare insurance system when compared to other developed countries. McSally and the Republican Party want to make our already overly complicated and expensive system even more restricted and more expensive. That is going in the wrong direction.

Come on down and tell McSally what you think of her record on healthcare, health insurance, the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, and more.

The organizers’ Facebook event is here.
https://www.facebook.com/events/429229150943449/

Equal Means Equal presents: The Equality Tour 2018

To gear up for Nov. 6 and for the 54th Session of the Arizona Legislature, the Equal Means Equal Equality Tour is stopping in Tucson on Nov. 1 and in Tempe in Nov. 3.

The directors of the movie “Equal Means Equal,” Kamala Lopez and Natalie White, will be in town for the event.

Come on down for a full evening of entertainment– dotted with a few speeches. I will be one of the speakers, along with LD9 Senate candidate Victoria Steele.

Continue reading Healthcare & Equality: Two Big Events on Nov 1 (video)

Arizona Daily Star Endorses #LD9 Democrats (video)

LD 9 Reps. Dr. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley and Victoria Steele (State Senate candidate).

Several weeks ago, the three LD9 Democratic Party candidates– incumbent Reps. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley and Senate candidate Victoria Steele–and Republican write-in candidate for Senate Randy Fleenor were interviewed by editors and reporters from the Arizona Daily Star, as part of their endorsement process.(For the second election in a row, Republican House challenger Ana Henderson didn’t participate in the interview.)

On October 17, 2018, the Arizona Daily Star formally endorsed the LD9 Democratic team. (They had endorsed Friese and Powers Hannley in 2016 also.) Here is their announcement:

Star Endorsements: Victoria Steele, Randy Friese, Pamela Powers Hannley in Arizona Legislative District 9 

The Star shot video clips of us after the interview.