Fallout continues over an Arizona long-term care licensing body’s approval of a license for a convicted felon, with AARP Arizona now calling for an audit of the state’s entire long-term care system.

The request comes after Gov. Doug Ducey announced his intention to disband the Arizona Board of Nursing Care Institution Administrators and Assisted Living Facility Managers and transfer those duties to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In a letter to Ducey, AARP Arizona State Director Dana Marie Kennedy said “Arizona’s long-term care system must be improved to better serve older and vulnerable Arizonans. In order to begin the process, we ask that you pursue an independent audit of our LTC system.”

“The pandemic has generated new challenges for everyone, but has definitively exacerbated the existing problems in our LTC facilities,” Kennedy’s letter reads. 

AARP also cited inaccurate COVID-19 case and death counts in the state’s  assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities as another reason to review the system. Kennedy said an audit would provide a comprehensive view of the issues in the long-term care system as well as policy recommendations to solve those issues.

David Voepel, executive director of the Arizona Health Care Association, said that the Arizona auditor general issued a review of the NCIA board in 2020 and the vast majority of its recommendations have been addressed. 

Voepel and Karen Barno, president and CEO of the Arizona Assisted Living Federation of America, said they are unclear what AARP is asking for in an audit.

“We continue to support full transparency and additional scrutiny in an effort to protect vulnerable adults,” Voepel said. “We are proud of the capable and compassionate service delivery of the long-term care network in Arizona and are open to working on new reforms. We hope that in the future AARP will work collaboratively to address the needs of long-term care residents.”

The Auditor General’s 2020 report concluded that the NCIA board should verify that applicants meet statutory requirements to work in the state and possess a valid fingerprint clearing card, investigate and adjudicate complaints in a timely manner, and provide accurate information to the public.

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