Tag Archives: caregivers

RAND study: More LTSS for Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers needed

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Caregiver

Image by Enrique Bosquet via flickr.

A new study from the RAND Corporation calls on policymakers to improve long-term services and supports (LTSS) for the growing number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and their caregivers. The report focuses on policy options at the intersection of dementia and LTSS.

An estimated 15 percent of Americans over age 70 suffer from dementia, but the number of seniors with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to triple by 2050, affecting as many as 14 million in the United States. This will place an unsustainable demand on dementia-related long-term services and supports, according to the report.

The estimated annual costs of dementia care are between $159 billion and $215 billion, which could more than double by 2040 if the age-specific prevalence rate of the disease remains constant as the nation’s population grows older. U.S. policymakers have made funding for clinical responses to dementia a priority. Continue reading

Clock is ticking for commission charged with addressing comprehensive long-term care

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Caregiver

Image by Enrique Bosquet via flickr.

Providing care and support for older adults is expensive, drains time and energy of family caregivers, and can make family lives chaotic. The repeal of the CLASS Act leaves the United States with no national long term care services and support plan for the millions of older adults who need it now, and the millions more who will need it in the next 20 to 30 years. 

As part of last year’s “fiscal cliff” bill, Congress established a Commission on Long-Term Care to investigate options and make recommendations on how our nation can address this growing challenge. The 15-member panel is working under tight deadlines to propose solutions that offer cost-effective health and social services to seniors, and support their caregivers, who are frequently caught between raising their own families, work and caring for aging relatives.

Lynn Feinberg, senior strategic policy adviser for AARP’s Public Policy Institute, testified before the commission on the urgent need for family caregiver supports. “What I was struck with the most at this most recent hearing, was virtually everyone who testified spoke about the importance of family support in long term services and support,” she said. “Everyone was recognizing this was not just an aging issue, or not just a woman’s issue, but it’s a family issue that really touches everyone and increasingly affects more people and will affect most everyone in the future.” Continue reading

CLASS Act is gone but long-term care problem remains

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

The ill-fated CLASS Act is gone.

What’s not gone is the problem of how to provide long-term care to the millions of disabled and/or elderly people who need it – numbers that will only grow as the baby boomers age.

What, if anything, does the Affordable Care Act do to address the problem?

What questions do you have about health reform and how to cover it?

Joanne KenenJoanne Kenen (@JoanneKenen) is AHCJ’s health reform topic leader. She is writing blog posts, tip sheets, articles and gathering resources to help our members cover the complex implementation of health reform. If you have questions or suggestions for future resources on the topic, please send them to joanne@healthjournalism.org.

The health reform law did not solve the long-term care problem. Not today’s problem, not the growing problem of the future. Even the most ardent backers of the CLASS Act (Community Living Assistance and Services and Supports), which was part of the health care law, did not see it as a complete answer. CLASS was designed to ameliorate, but not eliminate, long-term care costs, which can easily run $70,000 or more a year. Had CLASS been implemented, it would have given families who chose to participate about $18,000 (the finances were never finalized) a year that could pay a piece of a nursing home bill, or for assistance at home, or to build or a wheelchair ramp or accessible-bathroom etc to enable someone to stay at home.

But CLASS sank in an actuarial/legal/political swamp.

Is there anything else in the ACA to help family caregivers?

The law does have dozens of provisions that – depending on how well they are funded and implemented, how widely they are adopted and, quite frankly, how well some of the new care models turn out to work in the real world – can at least nibble around the edges of the long-term care needs.

New models of care

Some of you have started reporting on hospital readmissions. If we’re going to keep older people out of that revolving hospital door, they are going to need to be taken care of – well – outside the hospital. And that’s where a lot of the new models step in – community health teams to support primary care practices, the independence at home act, medication reconciliation programs, transition teams etc. A part of the legislation called “rebalancing” addresses some of the requirements and obstacles that up until now have led states to put institutional/nursing home care ahead of home and community based services.

The AARP just put out a report on how health reform addresses aspects of long-term care and family caregivers. It’s just nine pages, and some of the programs are going into effect this fall, or early next year. There are lots of good local angles for stories there. (The SCAN Foundation is also a good resource on these issues, and I wrote a while back about some of the relevant care models here.) We tend to think of the elderly when we think about long-term care but remember families of the disabled, whether adults or children, and some of people with serious mental disabilities also have these needs.

The report from the AARP Public Policy Institute by Lynn Feinberg and Allison Reamy notes that the health reform law explicitly includes both individuals and their caregivers in shared decision making an in quality assessment. What the family thinks and experiences matters; the family is a partner in care. The law includes family caregivers in some of the programs to improve caregiver training. The AARP report notes, in fact, that “The law explicitly mentions the term ‘caregiver’ 46 times and ‘family caregiver’ 11 times.”

Selden Ring finalists explored nurses, caregivers

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Two stories about caregivers were finalists for the 2010 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting:

  • “When Caregivers Harm,” a collaboration between Maloy Moore of the Los Angeles Times and Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber of ProPublica, exposed significant flaws in the oversight of California nurses with disciplinary problems.
  • Trust Betrayed,” a series produced by Sally Kestin, Peter Franceschina and John Maines of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, revealed inadequate screening of caregivers with criminal histories.

The award, with a $35,000 prize, recognizes published investigative reporting that has brought results.