When considering the state's budget options please remember how critical services are to the elderly, many who live alone, and younger people with disabilities that have few, if any, options without state assistance.
Complicating matters is the concern that, absent some intervention, many problems get worse necessitating even higher and more costly help that our state cannot avoid.
Most of the elderly will never use formal services because they can care for themselves or their families are willing and able to help. But too many have no family or long-distance family and are forced to turn to more formal service providers for help with the state often assisting with the payment.
Over the past 15 years, Washington state’s aging and long-term care system has transformed itself at the request and direction of the Legislature.
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Fifteen years ago, Washington state paid for more than 15,000 Medicaid nursing home beds.
Today, as a result of that rebalancing, only 11,000 people use that option, an amazing accomplishment considering the growth in the elderly population.
Had we not changed, our nursing home census would exceed 23,000 costing Washington state hundreds of millions of dollars more.
Home and community based options have been a huge success for our elderly, their families and our state’s budget.
Our budget is in crisis, but it will not be better off in future years if we pursue penny-wise and pound-foolish policies that force more people into nursing homes or emergency rooms.
Can’t we do better?