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New AARP Report Finds Older Americans Have Limited Access to Home and Community-Based Services Under Medicaid

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 General News J E 4
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In Pennsylvania, 90 percent of Medicaid LTC funds for older people spent on nursing homes



WASHINGTON, July 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new report by AARP's Public Policy Institute finds mixed results and promising signs among state government efforts to balance long-term care (LTC) options under Medicaid. Unfortunately, according to the report, only four states spent more than 50 percent of their Medicaid LTC dollars for older people providing home and community based services (HCBS). In Pennsylvania, 90% of Medicaid LTC dollars for older people and adults with physical disabilities who have limited financial resources are steered to nursing homes.



The report, A Balancing Act: State Long-Term Care Reform, is the first to examine Medicaid spending on long-term care for older people and adults with physical disabilities, separate from other LTC users such as people with mental retardation/developmental disabilities (MR/DD).



Nationally, 75 percent of Medicaid LTC spending for older people and adults with physical disabilities pays for institutional care in nursing homes. In contrast, states have done a much better job balancing Medicaid LTC for people with MR/DD, spending just 39 percent on institutional care. The majority of funds now supports people in home and community-based settings.



"We recognize the success state Medicaid programs are having providing home and community based services to people with mental retardation/developmental disabilities," said AARP Pennsylvania State Director Dick Chevrefils. "It proves that balancing long-term care is doable and should be used as a model to help states provide home and community based services for older adults."



As part of its Commonwealth Long-Term Living Project, Pennsylvania set a goal of 50 percent home-based care to 50 percent institutional care for all long-term care populations by FY 2011-12. Unfortunately, the recently passed 2008-09 state budget included no new spending to reduce existing HCBS waiting lists for Pennsylvania's lottery-funded OPTIONS program.



The report examines Medicaid LTC funding because it is the primary payer for LTC in the country. "This underscores the need for better government and private sector financing options for long-term care. Americans have few options to plan and pay for their long-term care. Balancing Medicaid LTC options will require a commitment from our state officials and cooperation from federal authorities. HCBS can be both cost-effective and responsive to the preferences of older people and adults with disabilities," said Chevrefils.



The new report includes state rankings and can be found at: http://www.aarp.org/research/longtermcare/programfunding/2008_10_ltc.html.



AARP has 1.9 million members in Pennsylvania. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 33 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's 39 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.



CONTACT: Steve Gardner of AARP Pen
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