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AARP AZ Letter to Governor Doug Ducey Requesting Audit to AZ's Long Term Care System

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Dear Governor Ducey,

On behalf of AARP’s more than 900,000 Arizona members, thank you for taking swift action to strip the responsibilities of the Board of Examiners of Nursing Care Institution Administrators and Assisted Living Facility Managers. We are all deeply disturbed by the report from the Arizona Republic, and are reminded that Arizona’s long-term care (LTC) system must be improved to better serve older and vulnerable Arizonans. In order to begin the process, we ask that you pursue an independent audit of our LTC system.

In September 2019, the Auditor General recommended a full and independent audit of Arizona’s LTC system. Such an audit remains imperative to present both a comprehensive view of the issues in Arizona’s LTC system and policy recommendations to begin to solve the problems uncovered. The pandemic has generated new challenges for everyone but has definitively exacerbated the existing problems in our LTC facilities. Arizona can become a leader in LTC across the country by taking this first step.

This recent article from the Arizona Republic is just the latest in a long line of investigative reporting detailing the tragedies that LTC facility residents and their families have faced amidst these difficult times. It is due to this reporting that the public has gotten a glimpse into what has been occurring in these facilities. Due to restrictions in visitation, families and LTC Ombudsmen, who are a first line of defense for LTC residents, had been prevented from entering these facilities.

At present, we do not have a public, accurate count of those who have died in Arizona’s LTC facilities, instead needing to piece together data from the federally regulated 147 Skilled Nursing Facilities and the deaths uncovered by investigative reporting from the additional 2200 Assisted Living Facilities, which are not required to publicly disclose their data of cases or deaths.

In addition to being at the forefront of advocating for those in LTC facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, AARP Arizona has been fighting for improvements to Arizona’s LTC system for years. Following the horrific incident at the Hacienda facility, task forces were created to address the problems plaguing Arizona’s LTC facilities through legislation and other means. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the tragedies exposed this year, more action is required.

Thank you, in advance, for your consideration of AARP’s recommendation. We look forward to working with you on this and other matters of mutual interest and concern.

Sincerely,

Dana Marie Kennedy, M.S.W.
AARP Arizona State Director

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