By Rod Burkett of senior living provider BMA Management, Ltd.
As President and CEO of the largest provider of assisted living in Illinois and Immediate Past President of the Affordable Assisted Living Coalition (AALC), I found some recent information about Medicare spending on older adults to be intriguing.
The information was posted in a DataBrief on the SCAN Foundation website and reflects an analysis of Medicare Benefits prepared by Avalere Health, LLC. You can see the DataBrief at thescanfoundation.org
The SCAN Foundation is an independent not-for-profit organization that supports efforts to keep seniors self-sufficient at home and in the community.
The analysis looked at how much Medicare spent on health care services for older adults who required supportive services to assist them with activities of daily living such as help with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting and transferring.
The analysis showed that over the course of one year Medicare spent approximately $4,300 less on health care for a person who lived in assisted living or a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) than a person who required supportive services and was living in their own home or apartment.
The figures shown in the analysis reflect Medicare spending for inpatient hospital, outpatient hospital, physician, emergency department, skilled nursing, home health and hospice services.
The analysis reflects spending data on nearly 2.2 million individuals on Medicare who required supportive services. Of those, nearly 1.2 million lived in their own home or apartment; more than 800,000 in a nursing home; and more than 200,000 in assisted living or a CCRC.
The analysis also shows that the Medicare health care costs for individuals who need assistance and are living in assisted living or a CCRC is nearly $600 a year less than those living in a nursing home.
In light of the tremendous cost savings, how unfortunate it is that the Draft Framework for the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s that was recently released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS.org) virtually ignores assisted living.
In our assisted living communities, we have and do care for a significant number of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. These are people who do not require the skilled nursing care services of a nursing home. These are people who may need help ordering their food and remembering what time of day it is and how to get to their apartment.
According to the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA.org), more than one-third of the residents currently living in assisted living communities nationwide have Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.
A growing number are living in specially designed Memory Care neighborhoods that offer special individualized and group programming. We are honored to have received approval from the State of Illinois to develop one of five pilot affordable assisted living Memory Care programs. The pilot projects will operate through the State’s Supportive Living program so they can serve those of all incomes, including individuals on Medicaid.
We will soon have under construction Memory Care apartments on the campus of our Heritage Woods affordable assisted living community in South Elgin, Illinois.
Unfortunately, the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s only mentions assisted living in one of its strategies and recommendations. Our company is providing feedback to the Department of Health and Human Services on why assisted living should play a much more prominent role in the National Plan.
We encourage you to join BMA in sharing your comments with the HHS. You can send an e-mail to NAPA@hhs.gov
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let us know.
“BMA Management is the leading provider of affordable assisted living in Illinois
and one of the 20 largest providers of assisted living in the United States.”