“The long-term care system in Hawaii is broken…”
With those words the Hawaii Long-Term Care Commission delivered a sobering assessment in its report to the state Legislature in January. The report warns that Hawaii’s families – and the state itself – are unprepared to cope with a system of care that costs too much and is too confusing for consumers to navigate.
See Also: The 2008 Hawaii Health and Long-Term Care Survey
According to the Commission’s report, the cost of private pay nursing home care in Hawaii exceeds $132,000 annually – well beyond the reach of most residents.
“Hawaii’s people have not put aside sufficient savings to deal with the risks of aging,” said Long-Term Care Commission Chair Stuart Ho, who also serves as State President of AARP Hawaii. “Most of our residents are unprepared for the looming financial costs associated with long-term care. The problem is compounded by state government’s fragmented management of the current system, which leaves families confused about what services are available to them.”
AARP Hawaii welcomes the Commission’s report as a critical step toward a functioning long-term care system that assures that quality, affordable care is available to all residents – including services provided in homes and communities where most residents say they want to be as they age.
Now the focus shifts to the state Legislature, where several of the Commission’s recommendations have taken the form of legislation:
- Senate Bill 2306 would consolidate state responsibility for long-term care under a single department. AARP Hawaii supports the intent of this bill to establish an executive position with central responsibility for long-term care. Under the current system, consumers are often confused about where to turn for information about available services, in part because of the fragmented bureaucracy. Consolidating authority under one agency would create a more streamlined consumer experience.
- Senate Bill 2308 requests the state’s Executive Office on Aging to conduct an education and awareness campaign to inform the public of the risks of long-term care. AARP Hawaii supports the need for heightened public awareness as fundamental to meaningful reform.
- Senate Bill 2320 emphasizes the need for affordable long-term care options and appropriates an additional $4.2 million in general fund revenues for continued growth of the Kupuna Care program. AARP Hawaii strongly supports this bill.
- Senate Bill 2321 proposes the convening of a task force to determine the feasibility of establishing a limited, mandatory public long-term care insurance program. While not opposed to such a program in principle, AARP believes that further study is needed given the current economic environment.
While not part of the Commission’s recommendations, AARP has cited the need for Hawaii to rebalance its Medicaid long-term care spending, currently skewed toward institutions. A recent report ranked Hawaii 42nd in the percentage of Medicaid and state-funded going to home and community based options compared to institutional care.
For more information on legislation stemming from the Commission’s recommendations, or to become a volunteer advocate for long-term care reform, call AARP Hawaii at 808-545-6005.