LONG TERM CARE: Could State Save Money if Medi-Cal Covered Residential Care?
California spends $2 billion annually on nursing home care, but experts say 20% to 70% of residents could be moved to more inexpensive assisted living facilities if the state applied for a waiver to spend Medi-Cal dollars on residential care, the San Francisco Examiner reports. Assembly Human Services Committee Chair Dion Aroner (D-Berkeley) has reintroduced a bill that would test the idea in a few counties, a plan backed by the California Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. Critics warn, however, that the program could be overwhelmed since "almost every elderly person could benefit from some assistance." The Examiner reports that the waiver would be allowed only if total state Medicaid spending is less than or equal to what would be paid for nursing home care. The California Association of Health Facilities opposes the bill, arguing that staff in residential facilities would lack the medical training to catch emerging medical problems. Consumers groups such as California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform support the idea of using Medi-Cal dollars for residential care only if legislators institute better regulation of the facilities (Haddock, 3/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.