Those who rely on AHCCCS for respite care successfully rallied to protect funding levels that were due to be cut in half.
According to the Arizona Autism Coalition:
In June, the AHCCCS Administration announced a proposal to reduce the total number of covered hours for respite care by 50% – from 720 hours per year to 360 hours per year.
AHCCCS solicited public input both through its website and in two community forums held on June 23, 2011. The purpose of seeking public input was to invite AHCCCS members and their families to share with the AHCCCS Administration how families are currently using respite care and how this proposed reduction would impact them. AHCCCS committed to using the public input to inform any final decision regarding the reduction in respite care hours.
Through the public input process, AHCCCS also received written comments from over 500 individuals and nearly 250 individuals attended one of the two community forums. Most of the comments received were from families of AHCCCS members enrolled in the Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS) through the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). There were some comments also relating to the use of respite care for family members of individuals enrolled in the ALTCS program that serves individuals who are elderly or physically disabled and individuals served by the Division of Behavioral Health Services.
We are grateful for the many comments received. We acknowledge the incredibly difficult nature of sharing personal stories publicly and we honor the courage that it took for so many families to provide us with insight into their daily struggles.
Your stories were critical in informing the final decision to reduce respite care coverage from 720 hours per year to 600 hours per year – a reduction of just over 15%, rather than the 50% reduction originally proposed. These changes will be effective October 1, 2011.
Respite care is offered so that family members can take some time for themselves to refresh, run errands, take a vacation, attend church or spend time with their spouse or other children.
So many families in Gilbert, and around the state have become resigned to budget cuts, and decreased funding levels that directly effect them. Mustering the energy for protesting these cuts sometimes seems like an exercise in futility. However, for those of you who tirelessly pushed for this reconsideration, you have my complete and sincere gratitude. There is no better fight than protecting families who are raising loved ones with challenges that require effort above and beyond the typical "call of duty".
Thank you very much.
News relating to AHCCCS policies and changes can be found here.
Tracy Lynn Cook is a writer in Gilbert, Arizona. To read more, please visit her blog at www.TLCsThoughts.com, or browse by topic: