Some Say State Elder Care System Is More Costly Than Necessary
Some advocates and federal investigators said California has a "one-size-fits-all" system of care for elderly and disabled residents, resulting in nursing home patients remaining in higher-cost homes when community-care alternatives exist, the Sacramento Bee reports (Teichert, Sacramento Bee, 11/27).
According to the Little Hoover Commission, one-third of California nursing home patients -- about 20,000 residents -- could be moved to facilities that help residents with tasks such as bathing, grooming and eating but do not offer extensive medical care for a fraction of the more than $43,000 per person the state annually pays to reimburse nursing homes (California Healthline, 8/2).
Cynda Rennie, a Sacramento elder care consultant, said the actual number of nursing home residents that could be cared for in their communities with local services is closer to 50%.
California pays an average of $3,600 per month for 65,000 Medi-Cal beneficiaries in nursing homes. The MetLife Market Survey recently determined the average cost of assisted-living services nationwide is $2,524 per beneficiary.
Stan Rosenstein, deputy director of medical care services for the Department of Health Services, said that California in the last 10 years has created several small but "cutting-edge alternatives" to nursing homes that have helped keep patient numbers down.
State health officials are preparing to launch the first pilot programs that will use Medi-Cal to pay for assisted living and relocating some patients out of nursing homes.
Jason Bloome, with senior referral service Connections, said the pilots are being "bungled" as costly and inefficient. He added that the pilots are counter to the goal of deinstitutionalization, the Bee reports (Sacramento Bee, 11/27).