Government must address elderly care

Dear Editor,

More than 1 million people across America are living in nursing homes when they would prefer to live in their own homes and stay in their own communities.

In most cases, Medicaid will pay for nursing homes but not for home or community-based care, even though those services would be far less expensive.

Congress is debating health care reform and making decisions with far reaching consequences. Long-term care should be a part of that debate.

The average cost for nursing home care is $75,000. The cost of Alabama’s Elderly and Disabled waiver is $7,733 per person per year.

Most people with disabilities and seniors would prefer to live in their own homes and stay in their own communities.

Many of them don’t need much to be able to remain in their homes and communities.

House modifications, assertive technology, transportation, and personal services are among the basic needs that can make the difference between institutionalization and independence.

According to a 2008 AARP study, three people can be cared for at home for the cost of one person in a nursing home.

Home and community-based services are cost-effective. Now is the opportune moment for Congress to address long-term care.