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Oregon Ranks Third in U.S. for Long-Term Care Options

GRAPHIC: While Oregon places third in a national ranking of states' long-term services and support for people as they age, the report also indicates areas for improvement. Photo courtesy AARP.
GRAPHIC: While Oregon places third in a national ranking of states' long-term services and support for people as they age, the report also indicates areas for improvement. Photo courtesy AARP.
June 19, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon's system of caring for seniors and people with disabilities at home with community-based services gets high marks in a new national scorecard.

AARP, the Commonwealth Fund, and the SCAN Foundation collaborated to compare states' long-term care services and support systems, and ranked Oregon third in the nation.

According to Rick Bennett, director of government relations at AARP Oregon, home-based care costs less and has helped tax dollars go further in the state. However, Bennett notes the scorecard shows the state's 30-year-old system could use some updates, including more support for family caregivers.

"One of the indicators is that Oregon is towards the bottom, as far as states go, in what we do to try to relieve the stress and wear-and-tear on caregivers that occurs over time," says Bennett. "I think that's an area that we have to be looking at."

Bennett says the Legislature's Senate Bill 21 Workgroup met this week in Salem to discuss long-term care needs for the future, as well as how to fund them. The workgroup is expected to share preliminary findings with the public this fall. The scorecard indicates Oregon does especially well in offering choices for care settings and providers, but not so well in making care affordable.

Dr. Bruce Chernof, president and CEO of the SCAN Foundation, says the study found states are "all over the map" in terms of affordability, access and quality of long-term care.

"You can't really improve what you don't measure," says Chernof. "What the scorecard provides is balanced data that allows states to compare themselves to one another, and for the country as a whole to take a hard look at what we're doing."

Chernof adds one of the most critical aspects of the scorecard findings is the need for speed in those areas where states could improve their long-term care systems. He says even those at the top of the list are not prepared for the onslaught of aging baby boomers.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR