Arizona becomes second state in the country to allow paid family care
PHOENIX — A new legislative move in Arizona works to address the ongoing nationwide nursing shortage while also helping the needs of families with medically fragile individuals.
Arizona has become the second state in the nation to allow parents to become paid certified nursing assistants for their own medically fragile children.
The law should be in full effect by 2022.
This not only comes as a wave of relief for these families but also helps the state’s Medicaid system, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System Administration, and working nurses.
A majority of these families typically receive state-paid care with an allotment of hours per week that AHCCCS is expected to provide in-home nursing care.
“What happens is, these hours oftentimes don’t go staffed,” Fred Johnson, president and CEO of Team Select Home Care, said.
“Parents and children are authorized to receive maybe 40 hours a week or 120 hours a week, but they’re getting zero or a fraction of that.”
His company will now pay to have these families be formally trained as licensed nursing aids.
Johnson actively worked to legalize this kind of program in Colorado and now in Arizona, describing it as his life’s passion.
He says the reason these hours often go unstaffed is due to the growing nursing shortage in the country.
According to LinkedIn, registered nursing was the fifth-most in-demand job in the country as of February 2021.
“Nurses that we rely on to take care of these children can generally earn 20-, 30-, up to 50% more money by working in a hospital,” Johnson said.
Johnson emphasized it is a struggle to fill the demand for home care nurses and said an additional strain is put on families and the state when these roles go unfilled.
“When the care doesn’t get executed every day, and there’s nobody trained in the home clinically trained to perform these tasks, then these children wind up back in the hospital,” Johnson said.
He explained that emergency care is not only expensive but could cost lives after a global pandemic sparked concern over hospital bed availability.
Parents may also have financial and emotional strain due to needing to call out of work last minute when their child’s nurse does not show up because of staffing issues or when all the care needs are placed on one parent, which could create friction in the home.
Johnson said, oftentimes, these families also require government assistance in order to scrape by.
These families will now receive consistent care for their children along with a stable stream of income.
“This is kind of the first time in my career when I found like such a win-win,” Johnson said. “It’s something that saves money, drives better outcomes and makes the world a better place for these kids and families.”