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Arizona Ranks 26th in Nation for Meeting Long-Term Care Needs

Arizona ranks in the middle of the pack, 26th in the nation, on a new scorecard for the availability and quality of long-term care services and supports. (AARP)
Arizona ranks in the middle of the pack, 26th in the nation, on a new scorecard for the availability and quality of long-term care services and supports. (AARP)
June 22, 2017

PHOENIX -- Arizona ranks 26th in the nation for providing quality long-term care services and supports for its older residents and those living with disabilities. It's a marked decline from 2014, when the state ranked 21st - and from 2011, when it ranked 15th in the nation.

The findings come from a new scorecard from AARP, the Commonwealth Fund and the Scan Foundation. New scorecards are released every three years.

W. Mark Clark , president and CEO at the Pima Council on Aging, said almost 30,000 older Arizonans and those with disabilities get long-term care through Medicaid, and thousands more rely on one of eight local Councils on Aging.

"We pay for services like shopping, attendant care, folks who can come in and help people take a bath or a linen change, do some laundry,” Clark said. "We also provide home-delivered meals so they can stay in their home."

The scorecard ranked states' affordability and access; choice of setting and provider; quality of life and care; support for family caregivers; and effective transitions between nursing homes, hospitals and homes. The most recent state budget added $800,000 for the Councils on Aging, which is the first increase since millions were cut during the budget crisis of 2010.

AARP said 804,000 Arizonans provide unpaid care for a loved one - services worth almost $9.5 billion. State Rep. Heather Carter sponsored a bill to grant a tax break of up to $1,000 a year for caregivers who qualify to defray some of their costs - but it never got a full vote.

"There are a variety of interests competing for limited state dollars,” Carter said. "And unfortunately this year, most of the tax credit bills did not make it out of the House. So, we will try again next year."

One point made in the scorecard is that states need to plan now for the challenging demographics ahead. In less than a decade, baby boomers will start to turn 80, and there will be far fewer caregivers available to help them.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ