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AZ Enacts Sunrise Reform to Empower Medical Professionals to Better Serve Patients

April 3, 2024

Arizonans can now more easily access high-quality healthcare thanks to the Sunrise Reform Act, which empowers healthcare professionals to better serve patients to the full extent of their education and training.

SB1021, sponsored by a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Sen. T.J. Shope, Sen. Eva Burch, Rep. Steve Montenegro, and Rep. Alma Hernandez, helps ensure medical professionals who want to expand their scope of practice or the activities they are licensed to perform will not have to go through a burdensome and unnecessary legislative step known as the “sunrise review process.” The reform comes as the result of a collaborative effort between Goldwater and many of the health professions stifled under this scheme.

Arizona’s sunrise review process required healthcare professionals wishing to expand their scope of practice to first submit a comprehensive report to the sunrise review committee by November 1, prior to the legislative session in which they wish to introduce the bill. That report must include the language of the bill, all supporting data, a list of any possible stakeholders (both for and against the reform), all of their arguments, and alternatives to their reform. The committee then holds one or more hearings before deciding whether the proposal is fit for full legislative review.

Unfortunately, the sunrise review process has proven to be largely redundant of the legislative process. Few members of the public are aware of sunrise review, which has led to limited public or stakeholder engagement. Worse, special interests who want to avoid competition have used it over the years to stall or kill many critical bills that would help put more Arizonans to work and make healthcare services more available. In practice, the sunrise process has made regulatory and licensure reform in our state considerably more burdensome. This, in turn, makes it harder to address many of Arizona’s healthcare challenges, such as rising costs, the mental health crisis, and the severe physician shortage.

Fortunately, the Sunrise Reform Act corrects this unnecessary barrier by:

  • Removing the requirement that scope of practice expansion bills pass through the sunrise committee prior to being introduced in session;
  • Clarifying that only material changes in certification, registration, or licensure must go through the sunrise process; and
  • Maintaining the current sunset process to determine if individual state agencies are still needed.

With the Sunrise Reform Act now law, Arizona has removed an unnecessary burden on the healthcare professionals wishing to practice at the top of their training, while still ensuring that bills are vetted by the full legislature. Patients will have improved access to high-quality care from experienced medical professionals—all while Arizona continues to lead the nation in protecting the right to earn a living and to work in one’s chosen profession.



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