State Representatives Darrin Camilleri and Cara Clemente took part in a community discussion of long-term care Thursday at the Riverview Community Center. As people live longer than ever before, many elders and people with disabilities find they will need care for longer periods of time. Living in one's own home, in one's own community, is the preferred way to be cared for as we age since a nursing home or similar institution can often be more isolating and is always more expensive.
“As a caretaker of four older relatives I know the challenges that long-term care presents,” said Rep. Clemente. “I am glad we were able to bring together the community to have a conversation on the topic.”
The representatives also addressed the shortage of direct care workers in Michigan that impacts the state’s ability to offer home and community based services to the people who need them. According to Dr. Clare Luz, Michigan will need 32,000 home health care workers by 2020.
Sarah Slocum of the Altarum, a non-profit health systems research group said the current system of funding long-term care is unaffordable for most and does not support those who are not on Medicaid. The policy analyst with the Program to Improve Elder Care said, “There is coverage through Medicaid, but first you have to use up all your own money and really have no nest egg left. We end up with no real organized way of financing for long-term care. It ultimately falls to individual bankruptcy, and a high cost to the state Medicaid program.”
The gathering downriver from Detroit was hosted by the Michigan Caring Majority which is working to bring our caregiving infrastructure into the 21st century. In 2018, the Caring Majority, a campaign with Michigan United, won the inclusion of a Long-Term Care Study (formerly HB 4674) in the state budget. The study will include a rigorous needs assessment of long-term care in Michigan and run an actuarial analysis of potential financing solutions. The plan also provides a roadmap for our path forward regarding long-term care policy in Michigan. Starting in October, the study will also include an examination of Michigan’s care workforce and what is needed to provide enough well-trained personnel to meet the state’s home and community based care needs.
“When we have broader conversations about healthcare in our state, an issue that often gets overlooked is long term care. Yet study after study shows expanding access to this type of care not only helps people live longer but dramatically improves their quality of life” said Rep. Camilleri. “Increasing access to quality long term care means more Michiganders can stay in their homes as they age, surrounded by the support of their families, friends, and communities.”
U.S.Representative Debbie Dingell was scheduled to attend but was tied up in Washington DC for an emergency vote. In a statement from her office, she said, “When someone in the family needs long-term care, the system is complicated, confusing, and broken for families and caregivers. We must do more to make sure seniors get the care they need where they need it and don’t have to wrestle with confusing coverage systems.”