Will governor approve bill unshielding 'hidden' health board actions?

Arizona lawmakers have passed a bill that would require state health board to post all actions on public websites, reversing a years-long practice of hiding a significant portion of that information.

“Sunshine is a great disinfectant,” said Sen. Nancy Barto, who introduced SB1452 in part because of an ABC15 investigation.

In the past, state law prohibited boards from posting non-disciplinary actions on their websites.

The “non-disciplinary” actions, which are considered public records, document everything from simple paperwork issues to arrests and even serious patient care issues.

However, they are shielded by a state law that prohibits them from being posted on the boards’ websites.

Sen. Nancy Barto thought that was “ludicrous” and wanted the “hidden” discipline to stop. She also included a provision that required board’s to record all of their meetings.

Her colleagues in both the Senate and House of Representatives agreed with Barto and unanimously passed her bill this week.

The legislation now moves to Governor Doug Ducey for approval.

In addition to increasing transparency for the public, the bill also places term limits on health board members.

To find out how many non-disciplinary actions have been hidden from the public, ABC15 journalists obtained records and statistics from nearly every one of Arizona’s two dozen health boards.

Over a 5-year period, ABC15’s review found the state boards handed out non-disciplinary actions more than 1,360 times.

However, the total is likely much higher.

Arizona’s Board of Nursing — one of the state’s largest boards — didn’t provide statistics. Officials said they don’t track the total number of non-disciplinary actions they issue.

*Note: Arizona’s dental board was not included in ABC15’s review of non-disciplinary actions because the station conducted a year-long investigation of the board in 2015. After the reports, a law was passed that year requiring the dental board to post all of its actions.

 

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dbiscobing@abc15.com

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