SEPTEMBER 12, 1994 VOLUME 2, NUMBER 10
Tucson’s Jewish Family and Children’s Service Center and the Southern Arizona Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association have announced the receipt of a $46,809 grant from the Flinn Foundation. The grant money will be used to establish a program to provide relief for family caregivers of dementia, Parkinson’s and stroke patients.
The program will utilize volunteers to provide respite care. Volunteer recruitment, supervision and retention will be the responsibility of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service Center, and the Alzheimer’s Association will develop a training program for the volunteer caregivers.
Once established, the program will provide volunteer relief caregivers for some families. There will be no fee, but families will be permitted to make contributions toward the cost of the program.
State Medicaid Waivers Challenged
States may have a more difficult time securing federal waivers to permit experimental Medicaid programs in the future. A lawsuit filed by a group of community health clinics against state plans in Tennessee and Oregon challenges the use of such waivers.
Under federal Medicaid administrative rules, states must secure specific waivers before implementing variations on Medicaid funding or service delivery structures. Arizona has operated under such a waiver since the establishment of its AHCCCS program.
The Clinton administration has indicated its intention to permit state experimentation by making the waiver process easier for states to navigate. The Tennessee experiment, for example, would transfer Medicaid recipients into health maintenance organizations and other discount-price networks of health providers. Similar waivers have already been granted to Hawaii and Rhode Island, and another half dozen states have either applied for waivers or are considering doing so.
The lawsuit alleges that the effect of the waivers is to permit state-by-state health care reform, rather than to encourage Medicaid improvement. The clinics also claim that low-income patients are hurt by placing them in HMOs, because they need health education and encouragement to seek care. Since HMOs are rewarded when patients make fewer visits to the doctor’s office, they are not a good way to deliver care to the poor, according to the suit.