Arizona Hospitals To Receive Emergency Advance Payments from Medicaid
To help Arizona’s hospitals weather the impact of COVID-19, Governor Doug Ducey announced today that the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) will work with its provider partners to make available more than $50 million in accelerated hospital payments and advances and extend an additional $5 million in new COVID-19 related funding to Critical Access Hospitals throughout the state. A Critical Access Hospital is a rural acute care hospital located more than a 35-mile drive from any other hospital.
“Our hospitals represent the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “We need them operating at full strength, which is why AHCCCS will be advancing these payments ahead of schedule. I’m grateful to AHCCCS Director Jami Snyder for her leadership and to the health care professionals across our state working day and night to provide care to those in need and save lives.”
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) authorizes AHCCCS to use the 6.2 percent increase in federal matching dollars (FMAP) to increase supplemental payments to Critical Access Hospitals by $5.3 million in additional payments. AHCCCS intends to make these payments in April.
“As health care leaders, we are committed to doing our part to ensure Arizona’s hospital systems provide excellent care for patients during this COVID-19 crisis but that comes at a significant cost,” said Jennifer Carusetta, Executive Director of the Health System Alliance of Arizona. “We are grateful for the leadership of AHCCCS Director Jami Snyder and her team for securing additional resources that will provide much needed relief to Arizona hospitals as we manage the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Through a combination of agency authorities, AHCCCS expects to accelerate supplemental payments to hospitals that participate in graduate medical education programs and operate trauma facilities. Select payments could be made this month, with additional funding available in June, more than two months ahead of the scheduled timetable.
AHCCCS continues to explore additional opportunities, with federal approval, to secure another $270 million in hospital advances.
Arizona was one of the first states to submit a request to waive certain Medicaid and KidsCare (CHIP) program requirements in order to address the COVID-19 outbreak and strengthen the provider workforce, remove barriers to care for AHCCCS members, enhance Medicaid services and supports for vulnerable Arizonans, and remove cost-sharing and other administrative requirements.
Find more details about actions Arizona is taking in response to COVID-19 HERE.
Governor Ducey Signs Executive Order Establishing Virtual Notary Services
In partnership with Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Governor Doug Ducey today issued an Executive Order allowing Arizonans to get documents notarized remotely, while ensuring secure and effective verification processes. Currently, notaries and signers must complete the notarization process in person. Allowing notarizations to be securely completed virtually will support the state’s COVID-19 “stay home, stay healthy, stay connected” guidelines while allowing the completion of deeds, loan approvals, business agreements and more.
This measure is consistent with Remote Online Notarization, a law passed that allows signers and notaries to meet virtually that takes effect July 1, 2020. The Governor’s Executive Order accelerates this timeline, giving Arizonans the opportunity to utilize virtual notarization starting April 10, 2020.
“We are taking proactive measures to protect public health while ensuring Arizona can still take care of their essential needs,” said Governor Ducey. “This order allows key components of business for bankers, real estate agents, legal companies, health care professionals and much more to carry on during the COVID-19 outbreak in a safe and secure way that protects public health. I’m grateful to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs for putting in important work behind the scenes to accelerate this process and give Arizonans access to this opportunity ahead of schedule.”
“We worked hard to ensure these services were made available months ahead of schedule — because Arizonans need it now,” said Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. “This order utilizes technology to get documents signed and notarized securely and in real time. These services are needed, especially in health care settings and rural parts of Arizona. We will continue to take the actions necessary to protect public health while meeting the needs of fellow Arizonans.”
The Secretary of State has adopted rules to ensure a secure identity verification process using online audio-video technology, allowing the notary and signer to converse in real-time as the signatures and tamper-proof seals are placed on an electronic document. All records of the notarization must be saved and backed up by the notary public.
The Secretary of State’s Office will begin accepting applications for online notarizations Friday, April 10. Visit the website HERE.
View the Executive Order HERE.
How Arizona Workers Impacted By COVID-19 Can Access Unemployment Benefits
Recent state and federal actions have expanded eligibility and benefit amounts for Arizona workers impacted by COVID-19.
On March 20, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order, later followed by the signing of legislation, ensuring those who are out of work or facing a loss of hours because of COVID-19 have access to unemployment benefits. The order:
Waived the one-week waiting period after an employee loses a job before they apply for unemployment benefits; and
Temporarily suspended work search requirements for those receiving unemployment benefits.
The order also expanded who is eligible to receive unemployment benefits to include:
Individuals whose employer has permanently or temporarily ceased or drastically reduced operations due to COVID-19 resulting in a reduction of wages;
Individuals who, due to requirements that the individual be quarantined, are separated from employment and do not have any available paid leave even if the individual has an expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over;
Individuals who leave employment due to a risk of exposure or infection and are a member of a population that is particularly susceptible to COVID-19;
Individuals who leave employment to care for a family member who has been infected with COVID-19; and
Individuals who for any other scenario are separated from work for reasons related to COVID-19.
On March 27, President Trump signed the CARES Act into law, which makes a number of changes to expand unemployment assistance. These include:
Expanding eligibility to individuals who historically have not been eligible for unemployment benefits such as individuals who are self-employed, contract workers or gig workers;
Providing people with an additional $600 per week in benefits on top of the unemployment amount already offered by Arizona Unemployment Insurance benefits; and
Authorizing extended benefits for an additional 13 weeks for individuals who exhaust their unemployment benefits.
The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) recently received guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on the additional $600 for Unemployment Insurance benefits and will be updating its systems in the coming days, with the expectation that those monies could reach claimants as early as next week. DES is evaluating guidance from DOL regarding the extended eligibility for those who historically have not been eligible.
To help process a surge in claims, DES has increased staff from 13 to more than 150 in call centers, with additional new assistance joining this week and further plans to augment capacity in the coming weeks. The Department has also deployed an online question tool (chatbot) in order to help users navigate the website and process.
Regardless of the status of the initial application, and regardless of the reasons why the individual is eligible for Unemployment Insurance, all Unemployment Insurance claimants must file weekly claims to continue to receive benefits. Even if their initial claim is still pending, Unemployment Insurance claimants must file a weekly claim to receive benefits for that week.
How to apply for and continue to receive unemployment benefits
The fastest and easiest way to apply for unemployment assistance is online at www.azui.com anytime between 12:01 a.m. on Sunday through 6:00 p.m. on Friday. Individuals without Internet access should call 1 (877) 600-2722. Hard copies of applications are also available in the documents center (UB-105 Arizona Initial Claim for Unemployment Insurance) at www.azdes.gov.
A step-by-step guide on the application process and what information is needed can be found HERE.
More information about unemployment benefits from DES can be found HERE. A FAQ fact sheet can be found HERE.
Where to find information on job openings
ARIZONA@WORK staff can provide people with no-cost job assistance to help them get back to work. More information about the services available and a list of jobs with immediate openings can be found at: www.ARIZONA@WORK.com.