[Hpn] LA-Trails Nation In At-Home Care; Breaux Urges Following Vermont's Lead
Tue, 30 Jul 2002 08:15:39 -0400
On Mon, 29 Jul 2002 16:20:52 -0500 "Stephanie Thomas" <email@example.com>
----- Original Message -----
From: Margaret A. Massey
La. trailing nation in at-home care
Breaux urges new policies for elderly 06/21/02
By Bruce Alpert
Washington bureau/The Times-Picayune
WASHINGTON -- Saying he hoped it would provide a wake-up call for
Congress and the nation to deal with the increasing problem of
long-term care for the elderly, Sen. John Breaux, D-La., on Thursday
released findings from 13 hearings by his Senate Aging Committee.
Breaux said that one major finding is that states, particularly
Louisiana, need to adopt policies that end what he termed an
"institutional bias" that pours much of the states' limited
resources into nursing homes, and little into helping care for
relatives at home, where many want to spend their final days.
According to data compiled by the committee, Louisiana ranks 49th
among the 50 states in financing home- and community-based services.
It spends $109 per capita on nursing home care per year, compared to
$1.33 per capita on community-based services, the committee said.
There are long waiting lists for Louisiana's four community-based
programs, operated with the help of federal money, the report said.
There are 124 slots for a home attendant program. When the committee
last checked, 641 names were on the waiting list.
Breaux said Vermont could be an example for Louisiana. He said the
New England state has managed to care for "twice as many people,"
with the same resources by putting more money toward health aides
and less toward nursing homes, enabling more seniors to continue
living at home.
"Everybody doesn't need to be in a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week
facility," Breaux said.Breaux read a letter from Francis Stevenson,
73, who cares for her husband, Dave Stevenson Sr., a diabetic who
suffers from dementia, high blood pressure and other ailments, at
their Napoleonville home. Stevenson said she's received some help
from government and community programs, but most help lasts for a
limited number of weeks, and some was restricted to times when her
husband had just been released from a hospital.
"I want him to be cared for at home because I know this is where the
best, tender, loving care will be given," Stevenson said in her
Breaux said Stevenson deserves help and that Congress "needs to face
up" to what will be an increasing demand for long-term care services
with 77 million baby boomers soon reaching the age of 65.
Louisiana's senior population is expected to jump by 300,000 -- 60
percent -- by 2020.
Congress owes it to Stevenson and millions like her, Breaux said,
"to replace an inefficient, outdated, and insufficient long-term
care system, with a better system that meets the needs of all
Americans who need long-term care."
Among those testifying before Breaux's committee was Sen. Jay
Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who helped lead a commission on long-term care
that recommended major changes that Congress didn't adopt. Among the
proposals, which Rockefeller said remain critical, is a change to
the Medicaid rule that requires a family to become impoverished
before qualifying for help with long-term care.
Rockefeller said the rule ought to be changed so that a couple can
keep up to $60,000, so that if they should improve and are able to
return home, they can do so "with a little dignity."
"Americans throughout the country are sorting through the really
difficult choices," Rockefeller said. "Choices like whether to sell
homes, raid savings and retirement accounts, or slip below the
poverty line to qualify for government help to meet desperate
long-term care needs.". .
. . . . .Bruce Alpert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
© The Times-Picayune. Used with permission.
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