AHCCCS submits spending plan addressing health care labor shortage

The health care labor industry is hoping to get a boost from the federal government. AHCCCS submitted a spending plan last week that would draw down over $1.14 billion in federal funding under the enhanced FMAP program to expand home and community-based health services.

If approved, the funding would provide a significant boost to the medical labor industry. The nation-wide labor shortage has hit Arizona particularly hard with shortages reported in every county.

“This means that the counties in Arizona did not meet the minimum population-to-provider ratio. For primary care, this target ratio is 3,500 to 1.”

Competition for workers is fierce.  Tech is one of the fastest-growing industries in the state, providing numerous high-paying jobs requiring little more than a bachelor’s degree. Contrast that with the medical industry where a similar paying job often requires years of schooling and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The spending plan hopes to overcome some of those challenges. Over $1.2 billion is expected to be injected into workforce development with over $1 billion going directly to hiring and retention programs.  Time-limited payments will be made to providers to incentivize workers directly by increasing wages, improving benefit packages, offer signing bonuses, and tuition reimbursement programs.

“Hiring and retaining DCWs is one of the foremost challenges in the HCBS field. As the economy recovers, HCBS providers will have to implement innovative workforce development strategies as they compete with other industries to attract employees.”

The spending plan was submitted to CMS on July 12.