Maine Long Term Care Commission Suggests $10M More Needed for State Medicaid
The recently created long term care commission completed their evaluation and analysis of the Maine long term care system and released their final report last week. After taking time to study the dynamics and current trajectory of long term care within the state, the panel is now proposing an additional $10 million be allocated to the MaineCare program in 2014.
Long Term Care Panel
The panel of 11 met 5 times in the past few months, hearing from local advocacy organizations and working with care providers to discern what the most important issues are and how best to address them. Other states are looking to tackle the same issues, but Maine faces arguably the most immediate need for solutions. The oldest state based on median age, Maine is also second in terms of percentage of the population over the age of 65, coming in only behind Florida.
Working to identify current gaps in the Maine long term care system, the members sought to determine the best course of action to improve the quality of care while also increasing access. Pointing to a number of deficiencies within the system, the commission proposed in their report that the extra funding for Medicaid will help reduce the prevalence of these problems.
Underfunding of Facilities
Most troubling is the underfunding of nursing homes that MaineCare continues year after year. The commission found that in 2011, MaineCare underfunded allowable nursing homes and assisted living costs $29.4 million in 2011. To make matters more difficult for these providers, the Department of Health and Human Services has repeatedly delayed auditing of MaineCare cost reports, which account for around $8 million in unpaid MaineCare reimbursements. As of October, the department still had 174 cost reports spanning from 2010 through 2012 that had not yet been audited.
Even with auditing, providers aren’t getting all the money they need. A report found that technological errors within the DHHS computer systems resulted in incorrect calculations that continuously reduce the amount of money available for government use by approximately $27 million.
To rectify these issues, the Maine long term care commission has proposed legislation that would correct all of the aforementioned funding errors and create yet another commission to continue their work. The Commission to Continue the Study of Long-Term Care Facilities and the Blue Ribbon Commission on Long-Term Care would both be created, one to study the Maine long term care system and one to draft a new long term care legislative plan for presentation.
Addressing the Aging Population
As more states are beginning to realize, in-home care is by far the most affordable and the most preferred long term care setting. By investing in this type of care over facility care, the state will be able to free up money to use towards other long term care causes. Aging in place is crucial to many Americans, who don’t want to leave their homes or their communities to receive care. Recognizing the importance of in-home care will help pave the way for a new system of care that focuses on addressing smaller needs at home, rather than fully committing to facility care.
Preparing for long term care is something that many Americans have not considered, either because they are unaware or because they simply can’t afford the costs. Taking time in advance to think about your future care and how you will pay for that care can help you avoid a financial disaster in the future. Health care expenses are the highest cost in retirement, and long term care, averaging $50,000 annually, can add up quickly.
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