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Hobbs' budget means 2,000 clients won't get as much help to age at home, Maricopa County agency says

Coverage of aging is supported in part by AARP Arizona

Woman wearing striped shirt
Gov. Katie Hobbs speaking with attendees at the 2024 Legislative Forecast Luncheon hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry at Chase Field in Phoenix on Jan. 5, 2024.

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs says she wants to improve care and accountability in long-term care facilities — and her budget reflects that. But for lower-income seniors who want to age at home and need support, there isn’t much there. 

Most older adults want to age in place. But they can’t always do it without some help. 

Mary Lynn Kasunic, CEO of the Area Agency on Aging in Maricopa County, said last year’s state budget included $5 million for aging services. But it was one-time. Still, she was hoping to see some funding in this year’s budget.

"Because we made such an impact … we made such a great impact in reducing the waiting list," she explained. And that waiting list had more than 1,500 individuals on it a year and half ago.

With the $5 million, "we were able to get the waiting list down to around 288," Kasunic said.

Now, with no money in the budget, "we will have to cut services for the 2,000 some clients that receive in-home services," she added. Things like respite support and help with bathing or grocery shopping.

"I am concerned that aging issues isn't one of the top priorities. But we will, as area agency directors, we will go down and advocate with the Legislature and see if all of that or at least some of that funding is restored," Kasunic said.

She said they may have to cut or reduce services for roughly 2,000 clients. Aging at home can be less expensive than in a residential facility, including assisted living. 

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KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.