A few months ago (after the discoveries at Hacienda Healthcare) the governor issued an executive order directing AHCCCS, ADES and ADES to convene a working group and make recommendations to better protect vulnerable adults (including folks with disabilities) from abuse and neglect.

A task force was put together and did some pretty diligent work. Last week the task force published their report which included 30 detailed and fairly measurable recommendations.  Each recommendation has a lead agency and many provide well-defined implementation deadlines.

The recommendations include sensible reforms, practices, resources, policies, and some commitments that would, if implemented, improve and sustain safety and security for vulnerable individuals. The report (w/o appendices) is 19 pages long- and is quite readable.  I encourage you to take a look. It really is some impressive work.

Of course- the key is really implementing the recommendations.  Some are contractual changes that AHCCCS can make within their managed care contracts.  Some are agency and inter-agency process recommendations. Others involve implementing modifications to computer systems. Some will require changes to state law (like modifying the definition of abuse).  All have a lead agency (almost all are AHCCCS and ADES) and most have an implementation date goal.

Some of the recommendations will require additional funding.  For example, Recommendation #21 states that…  “The State should also provide a level of funding for the APS (Adult Protective Services) program that takes into account annual growth in the number of reports, fair market wages for investigators, outdated technology across the program, and lack of available service referrals in certain areas of the state.”

This is an important report that clearly involved a lot of work.  Let’s keep our eye on the document and the implementation progress (including the important funding that APS needs).  If implemented, the recommendations provide an opportunity to better protect vulnerable adults across AZ.