Arizona's paid parent caregiver program is closer to becoming permanent
During the pandemic, Arizona’s Medicaid program allowed parents of minors with an intellectual or developmental disability to be their child’s paid caregiver. Those parents are one step closer to a permanent paid caregiver program.
AHCCCS, Arizona’s Medicaid program, has published its proposal to make the program permanent, which, according to its website, will help mitigate staffing shortages, increase member satisfaction and promote positive health outcomes. It’s now accepting public comments through mid-August.
That’s the good news. But Brandi Coon, with the advocacy group Raising Voices Coalition, says the proposal still falls short.
"With what they have included in this proposal, it would roughly cut the flexibility that we've been using the last three years in about half," she said.
Coon is talking about services like attendant care, so things like dressing and bathing, as well as habilitation services.
"Habilitation is about functioning out in the community and in daily living," said Lauryn Van Rooy who is also with the coalition. She says the habilitation services she provides will help her child become more independent.
Being a paid parent caregiver serves another purpose: Many parents end up leaving the workforce and money earned from the program can help with the family’s financial needs.
Coon said a recent survey by her organization found that 85% of respondents had some level of secondary education.
"These are parents who otherwise would be out in the workforce contributing members of society, but due to the needs of their children, they're unable to do so and currently in Arizona, they're being paid to facilitate that service."
Under AHCCCS’s current proposal, certain services would not be covered, leaving parents to continue providing them — albeit unpaid.