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Improve Long Term Care and Save Taxpayers Millions

Mounting evidence indicates Michigan can improve long term care, place older residents in a setting they overwhelmingly favor and save the state millions of dollars by providing more home and community based services as an alternative to nursing home care, according to a new AARP Michigan report.

See also: AARP Caregiving Resources

Rebalancing the state’s system of long-term supports and services saves taxpayers $57,338 per participant and enables Medicaid dollars to support nearly three older citizens for every one person in a nursing home, a national analysis indicates.

“A long-term care system that begins with the individual and helps people stay in their homes and communities can prevent a costly and unnecessary stay in a nursing home,” said Robert Kolt, AARP Michigan President. “A rebalanced system would serve the needs of older Michiganders and their families, while at the same time, making more efficient use of public resources.”

The AARP Michigan report, entitled “Consumer-Focused, Cost-Effective Long Term Care for an Age-Friendly Michigan,” also noted:

  • Nursing homes are expensive and becoming more expensive. The median annual rate for a semi-private room in a nursing home in Michigan was $80,300 in 2011. Total Medicaid spending for nursing home care grew 4 percent in Fiscal Year 2009 and 8.2 percent in 2010.
  • The overwhelming majority of Michigan voters prefer remaining in their homes, assisted living residences or other home-like settings over nursing facilities. Polling shows more than 8 in 10 voters say it’s important to them that long term care services be available to enable them and family members to remain in their homes as long as possible.
  • Other states make alternatives to nursing home care more available than Michigan does. Overall, 35 states spend a smaller proportion of their long term care dollars on nursing homes.

Michigan can help pay for alternatives to nursing home care by tapping available federal funding through programs designed to encourage states to shift Medicaid spending to home and community-based care.

Rebalancing Michigan’s long term care system would provide more substantial supports for unpaid family caregivers, who provide the majority of long term care services. In Michigan, an estimated 1 of every 7 adults is currently serving as a caregiver for an adult family member.

“Family caregivers are the backbone of long term care,” said Jacqueline Morrison, AARP Michigan State Director. “Offering more support for family caregivers is critical not only to the health of our long term care system, but also to our economy, our communities and our families.”

Issues such as long term care increase in importance as the wave of baby boomers moves past middle age, Morrison added. Residents age 55 and older will comprise about one-third of Michigan’s population by 2030.

“It’s time to recognize new opportunities for an age-friendly Michigan,” Morrison said.

Read the full report.

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