The Area Agencies on Aging 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.
The Arizona Association of Area Agencies on Aging is extremely appreciative of Governor Ducey’s allocation of $3.8 million in additional state planned Social Service Block Grant funding to the Area Agencies on Aging. This additional funding has helped to reduce the statewide waiting list from 2,459 people in late 2018 to 1,266 people in
December of 2020.
HCBS are the primary buffer to slow expansion of people needing more expensive support such as nursing home placement or other forms of institutionalization. If older adults are not able to receive 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 service 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.
Since 2016 the Area Agencies on Aging have not received a funding increase through the State’s General Fund. According to research conducted by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Arizona’s Area Agencies on Aging receive 18% of their funding in state appropriated funds, far less than the national average of 24%. Additionally, with the passage of Proposition 206, minimum wage has increased by 34% since 2016. During the same time period, competitors for direct workforce labor, such as DES/DDD or AHCCCS/EPD, have received rate increases. These increases have allowed other providers to be more competitive in bidding for a limited workforce.
For this reason, the Arizona Association of Area Agencies on Aging (AZ4A) is requesting an additional $5 million in General Fund appropriations to be allocated to DES/DAAS to match increases from prior years to AHCCCS/EPD, the increases in minimum wage, and proposed increases to the long-term supportive services system this year.