Assembly Hearing Examines Latinos’ Unpreparedness for Long-Term Care

An Assembly committee hearing yesterday highlighted the lack of preparedness in the Latino community for long-term care of family members  and the large number of families who likely will need help paying for it.  

“Inadequate funding disproportionately affects low-income, minority and rural populations,” said Alicia Hernández Sánchez, associate director of the Central Coast Center for Independent Living, who spoke yesterday at the Assembly Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care hearing. “And we have all three on the Central Coast.”

According to a 2012 poll by the SCAN Foundation, 60% of all Latino families in California will need long-term care for a family member in the next five years. Among Latino respondents, 91% said they could not afford three months of nursing home care.

In fact, 78% of Latino respondents were concerned their income was not high enough to meet daily needs and 59% said they have had to cut back on food to get by.

That level of poverty can hit seniors especially hard, said Victoria Ballesteros, director of communications at the foundation.

“Latinos are consistently more worried and less financially prepared than the rest of the state when it comes to long-term care,” Ballesteros said in a statement. “These concerns are rooted in the fact that Latino voters consistently face more financial and economic uncertainty than the rest of the state.”

According to the poll, almost one-quarter of Latino respondents had medical debt and about one-third of them inaccurately believe Medicare covers long-term nursing home care.

“The economic picture for Latinos is tough, but when we factor in long-term care costs, things become even more difficult,” Ballesteros said. “What our polling has consistently shown is that all Californians want more tools that will enable them to plan and pay for their future care needs.”

Seniors who are undocumented adds one more layer of need to the equation, Sánchez said.

“Access for undocumented seniors is just not there,” but there are a couple things that can be done, Sanchez said. “We can restore funding that has been cut and support community health policies no matter what status people are.”

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