The Arizona Association of Area Agencies on Aging is deeply concerned by the “skinny budget” proposed by Arizona State Legislature on March 17, 2020.

Currently Area Agencies on Aging around the state are working on solutions to providing services to those most impacted and in need during the Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Many services provided by Area Agencies on Aging have already seen dramatic changes in service provision to adjust to the unique vulnerability older adults face in this pandemic.

COVID-19 will bring new and unprecedented harsh realities to Area Agencies on Aging, including how to employ direct care workers to provide vital home and community-based services in people’s homes. Home and community-based services includes adult day health, assistance with bathing and dressing, meal preparation, shopping, bed linen changing, caregiver respite, home nursing, and home-delivered meals. The Arizona Association of Area Agencies on Aging anticipates an increase in demand for these services as families begin to isolate and older adults come out of quarantine in hospitals.

The Area Agencies on Aging are already struggling to remain competitive with rate increases through the AHCCCS Arizona Long-Term Care System (ALTCS). With increased market pressures, high demand of people needing additional home and community-based services – including home care – and increased sickness of direct care workers, Area Agencies on Aging need now, more than ever, to receive additional funding of $1.5 million for increased provider rates. We urge legislators to add this critical additional funding into the Department of Economic Security Division of Aging and Adult Services line item so that Area Agencies on Aging can continue to provide these vital services to older adults and their families.