WUOMFM

How much will it cost us to care for Michigan’s elderly?

Oct 29, 2017

If most people over the age of 65 will need long-term care, what will that look like, and will they be able to afford it? That’s what State Representative Jon Hoadley wants the state to study. He and other lawmakers are backing bills to measure that cost and come up with some funding options.  

Hoadley says people turn 65 every day, but the long-term insurance market is unstable.

“All that together means that a storm is coming,” he says. “We have an opportunity with this bill to get ahead of this problem.”

Sarah Slocum specializes in elder care for a nonprofit health group. She says the state needs to know what all that long-term care will cost.

“We’ve been working very hard in the advocate community, from the department, from the provider prospective to make improvements in long-term care,” Slocum says. “But the puzzle that we have not yet unlocked is financing and how to make that really work across the spectrum.”

The state report wouldn’t make recommendations, but it would outline some options for lawmakers such as tax credits and reinsurance to improve the marketplace. The bill received its first committee hearing last week.

Republican Representative Beth Griffin is a bill sponsor. She says 70% of people over the age of 65 will eventually need some type of long-term care.

“The unfortunate thing is that right now it is very difficult, if not impossible, to figure out which services they will need, because there is not yet a publicly available source of data to go to.”

The study would look at different options for long-term care, especially nursing homes. From there, lawmakers could come up with ways to make the care affordable for seniors – whether it’s through tax credits, support programs, or something else.