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Arizona governor issues executive order aimed to strengthen protections for people with disabilities

Posted: 11:08 AM, Feb 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-06 20:11:08-05
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PHOENIX — Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order on Wednesday aimed at strengthening protections for people with disabilities.

In the executive order, Ducey directed the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and the Department of Economic Security (DES) to "develop protocols on preventing, recognizing and reporting abuse and neglect for both care providers and parents or guardians of individuals with disabilities."

The order also requires "staff with direct contact to patients with disabilities to undergo annual training in abuse prevention."

The executive order comes one day after it was discovered Hacienda Healthcare failed to reach an agreement with the third-party management company, Benchmark Human Services. The deadline for Hacienda Healthcare to find a third-party management system was January 30.

RELATED: Governor Ducey calls for charges against Hacienda HealthCare

“All Arizonans deserve to be safe — and we have a special responsibility to protect those with disabilities,” Ducey said in a press statement. “This executive order provides increased accountability and stricter oversight, ensuring our most vulnerable are safe and protected. There’s more that needs to be done to ensure Arizona is guarding against abuse and neglect. We will continue working with all stakeholders to take additional action, and hold bad actors accountable, to guarantee the highest quality of care and protection for Arizonans with disabilities.”

Read the full text of the executive order below:

WHEREAS all Arizonans deserve to be safe wherever they reside;

WHEREAS vulnerable populations including individuals with disabilities are at increased risk of abuse and exploitation;

WHEREAS the Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Victimization Survey found that individuals with disabilities are three times more likely to be victims of violent crime;

WHEREAS individuals with intellectual disabilities are seven times more likely to be sexually assaulted;

WHEREAS these statistics underscore the need for heightened protections for individuals with disabilities living in group homes, intermediate care facilities, and other residential settings.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Douglas A. Ducey, Governor of the State of Arizona, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona hereby order as follows:

  1. The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), and the Department of Economic Security (DES), in conjunction with disability advocates, shall review current protocols and jointly develop training on preventing abuse and neglect, recognizing the signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect, and reporting abuse and neglect for both providers for people with disabilities and for parents and guardians.
  1. AHCCCS, DHS, and DES shall ensure that all state contracts related to the care of individuals with disabilities include a requirement that all staff, contractors, and vendors who have direct interaction with members with disabilities shall annually undergo training in preventing, recognizing, and reporting abuse and neglect.
  1. AHCCCS, DHS, and DES shall ensure that all state contracts for residential, group homes and day programs for individuals with disabilities include a requirement for the prominent posting of signage which includes department approved language on how to report abuse and neglect.
  1. AHCCCS, DHS, and DES shall ensure that all state contracts related to the care of individuals with disabilities include a requirement that a check of the Adult Protective Services Registry before someone is hired.
  1. AHCCCS, DHS, and DES shall convene a working group that includes individuals with disabilities, disability advocacy organizations, providers, and family members. This workgroup shall consider additional steps that can be taken to protect and improve care for individuals with disabilities and shall make recommendations and submit a report to the Governor’s office by November 1, 2019.
  2. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State of Arizona.

GOVERNOR DONE at the Capitol in Phoenix on this 6th day of February in the year Two Thousand and Nineteen and of the Independence of the United States of America the Two Hundred and Forty-Third.

ATTEST: SECRETARY OF STATE