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Study will look at better ways to run, fund long-term care in Michigan


As Michigan’s population ages, the state’s new budget will fund a study looking at better ways to pay for and run long-term care systems.

Long-term care includes everything from nursing homes to in-home care for people who need help with daily living.

The study aims to “conduct a rigorous needs assessment of long-term care in Michigan and provide an actuarial analysis of potential solutions,” according to Michigan United, one of a consortium of groups that pushed for state funding. “Researching new ways to share the responsibility of providing care for all in a way that reduces risk and shares cost, particularly for those who do not qualify for Medicaid, is vital as Michigan prepares to meet the needs of its aging population and people with disabilities.”

State Rep. Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, sponsored the measure. He says it was easy to get bipartisan support for it because “everybody has a story” about caring for an elderly or disabled loved one, “and everybody knew how important it was that we started to think forward in our budget about the changing needs of long-term care.”

Sarah Slocum is with the Program to Improve Elder Care at the Altarum Institute, a health systems research group. She says the current system of funding long-term care essentially relies on personal bankruptcy.

“There is coverage through Medicaid, but first you have to use up all your own money and really have no nest egg left,” Slocum said.

“We end up with no real organized way of providing for financing for long-term care. It ultimately falls to individual bankruptcy, and a high cost to the state Medicaid program.”

Elder and disability advocates say it’s also important to improve pay and working conditions for long-term care providers, and to find more ways to provide people with in-home care.

The year-long study will be carried out by policy experts and advocacy groups. The state carried out a similar study in 2004.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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