[Hpn] LA-Trails Nation In At-Home Care; Breaux Urges Following Vermont's Lead

Thomas Cagle nh-adapt@juno.com
Tue, 30 Jul 2002 08:15:39 -0400

On Mon, 29 Jul 2002 16:20:52 -0500 "Stephanie Thomas" <adapt@adapt.org>

----- 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 bruce.alpert@newhouse.com or 
 (202) 383-7861. 
  The Times-Picayune. Used with permission. 

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