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AARP: Indiana 47th in Meeting Long-Term Care Needs

September 8, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A new AARP scorecard ranks Indiana 47th in the nation for how well states manage long-term care services and support systems. Paul Chase, public policy director with AARP Indiana, says it's costing the state more in the long run by not adequately funding existing programs, like "CHOICE" and the Medicaid waiver, that keep people out of nursing homes.

"We can do a lot better at expanding home-care services, making sure that we're taking care of people's needs - where they want to be taken care of, giving people more independence - more choice in terms of their own needs."

Chase says right now, Medicaid pays for at least 62 percent of all nursing home care in the state. The AARP scorecard looks at affordability and access, choice of setting and provider, quality of life, quality of care and support for family caregivers.

State Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville) points out that Indiana has not increased the budget line for home and community-based services since 2004.

"We rely too much on nursing home care and not enough on home- and community-based services, where people can remain more independent and live in their own home as long as possible."

With CHOICE (Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled), it costs $7,200 a year to take care of someone in their home, Becker says, versus $50,000 a year in a nursing home. She says the federal government picks up two-thirds of the nursing home costs for Medicaid, but it is financed through tax dollars.

Chase says the state has refused to fully fund programs like Medicaid waivers, which require an up-front investment but save taxpayer dollars overall by keeping people out of nursing homes. He adds that the state also continues to trim the state-funded CHOICE program, even though it provides services similar to the Medicaid waiver at a fraction of the cost.

"CHOICE is a great state program. It's a very cost-effective program. Yet, each budget cycle we have to fight tooth and nail to keep them from cutting funding for it."

On the positive side, the scorecard shows 85 percent of Hoosiers with disabilities living in the community are satisfied with their lives. Chase says the Area Agencies on Aging offer one-stop access to information about available long-term care programs.

A link to the AARP report is at www.longtermscorecard.org.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN