The Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) in Arizona strive to keep older adults and younger adults with physical disabilities in their homes as they age. It is estimated that upwards of 85% wish to remain in their home for as long as possible. Home and community-based services (HCBS) are critical to achieving this goal. HCBS includes adult day health, assistance with bathing and dressing, meal preparation, shopping, bed linen changing, caregiver respite, home nursing, and home-delivered meals.
Due to funding cuts as a result of the economic downturn there is now a waiting list of approximately 2,459 people to receive HCBS, of which more than 10% are younger than 60 and have a physical disability. HCBS are the primary buffer to slow the expansion of people needing more expensive support such as nursing home placement or other forms of institutionalization. If older adults are not able to get the support they need at home then they are more likely to come to the attention of Adult Protective Services (APS), often for reported self-neglect, or end up in an emergency room. No matter what emergent care they receive, it will be costlier than providing services to keep them safe in their own homes with dignity and respect. According to DES approximately 17% of all HCBS cases were referred by APS for ongoing service. This link between APS and the AAAs is a vital connection that helps older adults get the services and supports they need.
Arizona’s older adult population continues to increase and is outpacing the general population growth. According to DES, “the 65 and older age group is the fastest growing population in Arizona for the last several years, increasing by approximately 24% between 2010 and 2016.” In spite of the much-appreciated additional funds appropriated during the past three sessions, the AAAs continue to have a significant waiting list for the vital HCBS.
For this reason, the Arizona Association of Area Agencies on Aging (Az4a) have two legislative requests for HCBS for FY 2020.
- Az4A is asking the Arizona State Legislature to support the Governor’s budget request of $3.8 million in additional state planned Social Services Block Grant funding to the Area Agencies on Aging to reduce the waiting list for HCBS services.
- The AAAs manage HCBS services provided to elderly and physically disabled adults funded through DES Division of Aging and Adult Services. Az4A is requesting an additional $1.1 million in General Fund appropriations to be allocated to DES for the AAAs to match the proposed 7% increase for ATLCS EPD providers included in the Executive Budget and various legislative budget draft documents.