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Iowa Earns Mostly High Marks in New Report

A new study released jointly by AARP’s Public Policy Institute, The Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation shows Iowa ranks sixth in the nation on how well it performs in the delivery of long-term services and supports to older adults and people with disabilities, but also points out areas for improvements, especially in support for home and community based services.

The report, “Raising Expectations: A State Scorecard on Long-term Services and Supports (LTSS) for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers”, examines four key dimensions of states’ LTSS system performance: affordability and access; choice of setting and provider; quality of life and quality of care; and support for family caregivers.

“This report card validates that overall, Iowa delivers quality long-term care, but there are areas where Iowa needs to do better, especially in improving access to home and community services and choices,” said AARP Iowa Associate State Director for Advocacy Anthony Carroll.

The report assesses Iowa’s performance as a whole and on 25 individual indicators, some of which were measured for the first time. The study ranks Iowa fifth highest in two of the dimensions – quality of life and quality of care and support for family caregivers, and twenty-second in two dimensions – affordability and access and choice of setting and provider.

While the state receives overall high performance marks, there are some areas where Iowa is in the bottom tier, including percentage of home health patients with hospital admission and percent of nursing home residents with low care needs, and functionality of Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC).

The Scorecard finds that generally states with the highest level of performance have enacted public policies designed to:

  • Improve access to services and choices in their delivery by directing state Medicaid programs to serve more people in need and offer alternatives to nursing homes that most consumers prefer
  • Establish a single point of system entry to help people find needed information and more easily access services
  • Improve support for family caregivers by offering legal protections as well as other services to address caregiver needs

Carroll said findings from another AARP survey, “Voices of 50+ Iowa: Dreams & Challenges”, released earlier this year, show that 84% of Iowans 50+ say it is extremely or very important to be able to stay in their own homes as they age.

“With the first of the 76 million Baby Boomers turning 65 this year, there’s no time to waste when it comes to improving our system of long-term services and supports in this state – and in this country, said Carroll. He added that one key factor Iowa could work on is to enhance functionally of Iowa’s Aging and Disability Resource Centers, agencies that help older adults and those with disabilities get access to information about the broad range of services and supports available to help residents age in place in their homes and communities.

The top five highest performing states for LTSS are Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii and Wisconsin. Rounding out the top 10 are Colorado, Maine, Kansas and the District of Columbia.

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