Groups Call Home-Care Funding Critical for AZ Seniors
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
A major element of the multipronged Build Back Better Act would provide $150 billion for expanding home and community-based care for seniors and people with disabilities.
Political wrangling has put the Act on ice, but senior advocates hope the funding for home-base care either remains part of a slimmed-down bill, or could be approved as a stand-alone measure.
Amber Christ, director of health policy and advocacy for Justice in Aging, said new funding could transform how and where many Arizonans get their care.
"There are over 800,000 older adults and people with disabilities on waiting lists for these types of services across the country," Christ reported. "The idea would be to clear those waiting lists, or at least make a big dent in clearing those lists."
Christ pointed out under the current system, people often must receive care in a nursing home or another institutional setting. She argued new funding would mean many more people could receive treatment at home or in a community-based setting.
Chronic underfunding and poor staffing has made providing home- and community-based care difficult.
Maddy Bynes, director of the Arizona Association of Area Agencies on Aging, said as the Baby Boomer generation retires, the industry is presented with a whole new set of challenges.
"The population shift to an older Arizona and having the resources to address that," Bynes emphasized. "And then, there's the challenge of coming out of the Great Recession into the population shift, and into a much older Arizona."
Bynes believes a significant amount of new funding should be dedicated to providing training and career development to recruit and retain a high-quality home-care workforce.
"This is one of the fastest-growing sectors in our economy, and I think it's vitally important that we talk about direct-care workers as the direct-care professionals that they are," Bynes asserted.
Congressional leaders are crafting a "slimmed down" Build Back Better Act, which they hope can overcome the objections of moderate Democrats, but no new bills have been filed.
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