Monday, September 12, 2011

Wisconsin Scores 5th in the Nation on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers

A first of its kind report by AARP, The Commonwealth Fund, and The Scan Foundation measured state-level performance of long-term services and support (LTSS) systems providing assistance to older people and adults with disabilities.  The report is called “Raising Expectations: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers.” 

Across the four dimensions, Wisconsin scored 5th.  However, the report emphasizes that all states have room for improvement and that public policies play an important role in those improvements. If Wisconsin were to improve to the level of the top performing state, 9,542 more low- or moderate-income adults with activity of daily living disabilities would be covered by Medicaid and 6,057 more new users of Medicaid LTSS would first receive services in home and community based settings, instead of nursing homes.

Overall, the report examined state performance based on:
   1. Affordability and access;
   2. Choice of setting and provider;
   3. Quality of life and quality of care; and
   4. Support for family caregivers.

Wide variation existed within each indicator, and support for family caregivers went hand in hand with other dimensions of high performance. One reason why Wisconsin ranked high is that the scoring gave preference to services in community and home-based care settings. Medicaid, as the primary sources of public funding for LTSS, plays a key role in determining the extent to which low-income people can receive their care through home and community based supports.

Innovative programs like Family Care help Wisconsin lead in this area. However, Family Care enrollment is currently frozen. For more on advocate’s efforts to lift the limit on Family Care in Wisconsin, see the August 8th article in the Appleton Post-Crescent.

Sara Eskrich

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