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Proposed Program Would Help Pay Expenses for AZ Caregivers

The Arizona Family Caregiver Grant Program would help family caregivers cover the cost of items such as wheelchair ramps, bathroom grab bars and other modifications. (Leonid/AdobeStock)
The Arizona Family Caregiver Grant Program would help family caregivers cover the cost of items such as wheelchair ramps, bathroom grab bars and other modifications. (Leonid/AdobeStock)
May 2, 2019

PHOENIX – A bill pending before the Arizona State Legislature would help families pay some of the expenses of keeping a disabled relative at home.

The measure, the Family Caregiver Grant Program, is specifically designed to help families care for relatives and keep them out of taxpayer-supported state institutions.

Steve Jennings, associate state director of AARP Arizona, says the bill is designed to provide some financial relief for family caregivers.

"It reimburses unusual expenses, things like if you need to change the bathroom or the shower or install grab bars or build a ramp on the home or put a lift on a car,” he explains. “Families can be reimbursed up to $1,000 a year.”

Jennings says studies show that almost half of caregivers say spending money on the care of a loved one negatively affects their own finances. It found that such expenses make it difficult for them to save for their own retirement, pay their bills or purchase everyday necessities.

Almost 90% of the family caregivers surveyed said they preferred a rebate rather than a tax credit to cover their costs.

AARP research found that of likely Arizona voters age 40 and older, about 2 out of 5 are current or former caregivers, and almost half of all surveyed expect to be a caregiver during their lifetime.

Jennings says that affects a significant number of Arizonans.

"There're about 800,000 family caregivers in Arizona, and the average family caregiver spends over $100 a week on an older relative out of their own pocket," he states.

Jennings says there is broad, bipartisan support for the bill (Senate Bill 1172), but there are still a few hurdles ahead of it becoming law.

"The leadership of the Legislature and the governor are negotiating what's going to happen with the state budget,” he points out. “This bill has a $1.5 million cost for three years, so it's competing along with a number of other bills for the limited funds that the state has available."

The bill has been passed by the state Senate and is awaiting action in the House before going to the governor for final approval.

Disclosure: AARP Arizona contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ