I’m pleased to share that Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) announced the use of one-time federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to temporarily increase provider rates for the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP), effective October 1, 2021.
AzEIP is Arizona’s statewide interagency system of services and supports for families of infants and toddlers, birth to three years of age, with disabilities or delays. AzEIP is established by Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which provides eligible children and their families access to services to enhance the capacity of families and caregivers to support the child’s development. Given the importance of this program and the need to maintain and strengthen the network of services available to children, provider rate increases are one of the highest priority uses of ARPA funds.
DES contracted with Guidehouse, Inc. to conduct a rate rebase study that was released in January 2021. Since the release of the rate rebase study, AzEIP and DES leadership have worked with the provider community and the Governor’s Office to find a solution to increase provider rates, while at the same time, increasing the quality of services for the children and families receiving AzEIP services.
The funds will help provide the needed resources on a temporary basis, while a permanent solution continues to be developed. The rate increase will improve services and outcomes for children by addressing the increasing service costs, provider turnover, and caseload size. The enhanced rates will also address the gap between therapy rates paid by the DES Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) and AzEIP. The enhanced AzEIP rates will be published in the coming weeks in AzEIP’s Billing Manual.
Approximately half of the funds will be used to increase provider rates to the 75th percentile of the rebase study benchmark rates. AzEIP will be using the remaining funds for other important one-time initiatives to improve AzEIP services, including development of a provider training program, enhancing required ChildFind activities to identify potential AzEIP eligible children, and data/technology system enhancements.
Home and Community Based Service Provider Rate Increase Forums
In addition to the increase in AzEIP provider rates, there will also be an increase in rates paid to Qualified Vendors for Home and Community Based (HCBS) services, which serve DDD members in their own homes or communities, and not in an institutional or isolated setting. This follows action taken by Governor Ducey and the Arizona Legislature during the 2021 Session.
DDD is hosting a series of virtual forums in August to discuss its proposed plan for provider rate increases. DDD will post a copy of the presentation and its initial draft proposal online for those who cannot attend a forum. After reviewing the documents they can submit comments using this online form. Feedback from providers and families through the forums, as well as through submitted comments, will help ensure the plan is a collaborative effort to meet the needs of everyone within the DDD community. View the DDD website for additional details.
I am grateful for the partnership of Governor Ducey and the Arizona Legislature in ensuring the State continues to meet the needs of Arizona families as well as the dedicated men and women who serve them within the DDD and AzEIP provider communities. The funds will help support the existing services for individuals with developmental disabilities, and enable providers to improve and expand upon their ability to meet the diverse needs of these communities.