Legislation Introduced to Improve Senior Services, Save Cents

Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI),  and Representatives Bruce L. Braley (D-IA) and John Sarbanes (D-MD) introduced Project 2020: Building on the Promise of Home and Community-Based Services in their respective chambers late last night and this afternoon.

The legislation, developed in a partnership between two leading national aging organizations—National Association of State Units on Aging (NASUA) and National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a)—provides the first coordinated national long-term care strategy that will generate savings in Medicaid and Medicare at the federal and state levels. At the same time, Project 2020 will enable older adults to get the support they need to successfully age where they want to—in their own homes and communities.

Project 2020 is estimated to reach over 41 million Americans and will reduce federal Medicaid and Medicare costs by approximately $2.8 billion over the first five years, resulting in a net savings to the federal government of nearly $250 million. The program would also generate significant savings for state governments. Financial performance is
expected to improve in years five through 10 of the program, as all systems reach full scale operations nationally, with the net federal savings over 10 years reaching $1.1 billion.

Project 2020 builds on best practices in community-based long-term care that have been demonstrated to reduce the need for more expensive institutional care and prevent or at least delay “spend down” to Medicaid for elderly and disabled adults. The legislation embraces three proven strategies as requirements for infrastructure development and participation in this program. The key elements of the approach include:

–Person-Centered Access to Information: Services would be made available to help anyone interested in accessing long-term care obtain counseling and assistance regarding long-term care services and supports.
–Evidence-Based Health Promotion and Disease Prevention: Scientifically-proven wellness programs for seniors would be provided through Area Agencies on Aging.
–Enhanced Nursing Home Diversion Services: Specific care plans targeted at allowing lower-income individuals to stay in the community and stay off Medicaid.

In 2008, more than 52 million Americans were over the age of 60 and by 2020 one in six Americans will be age 65 and older. The fastest growing segment of the aging population is individuals over the age of 85—often the most
vulnerable older adults needing long-term care services and supports, and whose numbers are expected to double by 2020. These trends make the United States’ current strategy on financing long-term care costs through Medicaid
and Medicare unsustainable. Project 2020 provides the nation’s rapidly increasing aging population, as well as persons with disabilities, with enhanced home and community-based support services while at the same time saving Medicaid and Medicare dollars.

For more information, visit http://www.n4a.org/advocacy/campaigns/?fa=project-2020

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About Denise Brown

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched CareGiving.com in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

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