The Arizona Republic recently ran a story titled, Health benefits cut for adults in Arizona’s Medicaid program. This headline must have raised questions for Arizona seniors whose long-term care is covered by ALTCS, the branch of Arizona Medicaid responsible for providing long-term health care. While the legislature has deemed it necessary to cut health benefits, it did not make any cuts to ALTCS. As it now stands, then, ALTCS members will not experience any changes to their long-term health care coverage.
The cuts to Arizona Medicaid are born out of widespread economic problems, to which the state has not been exempted. And although the cuts will not extend to ALTCS/Medicaid, AHCCCS will undergo administrative cuts as well as cuts to specific procedures, such as certain transplants. AHCCCS projects that these cuts will save Arizona Medicaid more than $20 million over the next year.
The fact that cuts have not been made to ALTCS/Medicaid indicates the importance that the legislature attaches to this program. For many Arizona Seniors, ALTCS is the only way they could possibly afford quality health care. It is no secret that care in a skilled nursing facility can cost more than $6,000 per month, and without ALTCS, many seniors would simply be unable to afford it. Due to the vital role that ALTCS plays in sustaining our senior population, ALTCS eligibility requirements have remained unchanged despite Arizona’s economic problems.
While seniors generally do not qualify for Arizona Medicaid automatically, they can prepare for their application with an Elder Law firm to help them qualify with as little delay as possible. ALTCS planning can help seniors save assets and income for their spouse, while at the same time prepare them for ALTCS eligibility. By preparing for ALTCS/Medicaid early, seniors can best facilitate a transition to the types of care they may require as time passes.