Home and community-based services are at the core of our work as an Area Agency on Aging. These critical services include assistance with bathing and dressing, meal preparation, shopping, bed linen changing, caregiver respite, home nursing, home-delivered meals and adult day health. Between 2008 and 2013, during the height of the economic crisis in Arizona funding for home and community-based services was cut by 67% statewide. Through understandable at the time, this has led to a waiting list for these services throughout Arizona.
Currently there are approximately 2,500 people statewide on the waiting list for these vital services designed to help people age at home with dignity and respect. We are joining with our statewide partners, members of the Arizona Association of Area Agencies on Aging, to advocate for the addition of $9 million.
The Governor has proposed a $3.8 million funding increase for home and community-based services, which will reduce the waiting list. In addition, a 7% increase to the AHCCCS (Arizona's Medicaid) fee-for-service rate was also proposed. The Arizona Long-Term Care System (ALTCS) is an AHCCCS program that older adults and individuals with physical disabilities rely on for long-term supportive services, including home and community-based services and care in an adult care home or a skilled nursing facility.
Over the past two years, AHCCCS fee-for-service rates to agencies that provide home and community-based services have not kept up with the cost of doing business. This cost of providing home care services has increased over recent years due to factors such as raises in the minimum wage and benefits to paid caregivers, including sick and safe leave and health coverage. The cost of doing business is beginning to exceed the fee- for-service rate the State of Arizona has set for serving AHCCCS recipients, which could result in a lack of agencies providing services to AHCCCS clients.
Though we support the 7% increase proposed by the Governor, we know that additional funding will continue to be needed. Some estimate that the need is as high as a 38% increase. In order to remain competitive, it is critical that the Area Agencies on Aging throughout Arizona receive the same increase for their paid services that the Elderly and Physically Disabled and Developmental Disability providers (who have also asked for an increase) receive, as we contract with the same companies.
You can help by advocating for this additional funding TODAY! Click "Take Action" and either send a preformed letter or write one of your own.