As Boomers retire, it’s time to make long-term care a priority | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

"The future looks startling to those of us who comprise the “silver tsunami” and is downright alarming for thousands of Washingtonians who rely on the state’s Medicaid system to pay for long-term care services in nursing homes and assisted-living centers."

For the next 18 years, approximately 8,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day. By 2030, one in five Washingtonians will be considered elderly – and many will need long-term care. Reliance on government support for long-term care needs will continue to grow as baby boomers age.

The future looks startling to those of us who comprise the “silver tsunami” and is downright alarming for thousands of Washingtonians who rely on the state’s Medicaid system to pay for long-term care services in nursing homes and assisted-living centers.

Assisted-living Medicaid rates haven’t been updated in nearly a decade and were cut by 6 percent from 2010 to 2012. Nursing-home rates were last updated in 2007. Rates fell short by over $100 million in 2012 – and more than half the state’s nursing homes lost money.

Failure to update rates creates problems at the bedside, where care quality is truly defined. Seventy percent of the cost of long-term care is wage- and labor-related, thus financial losses equal lost jobs and that translates to lost quality. This is simply not sustainable.

Washington Health Care Association has represented skilled and assisted living providers in Washington for more than years. Our 400-plus members tell us that the issue of appropriate funding does not change because of shifting demographics.

Washington’s system of facility-based, long-term care is threatened as never before. Now, as in the future, when a loved one’s care needs can’t be met at home, it’s critical that trained and certified staff are available to provide quality care in a cost-effective, safe and highly regulated care setting.

Please call the Legislative Hotline in Olympia today at 1-800-562-6000 and let your legislators know that seniors matter.

Tell them skilled and assisted-living care must be a priority in the supplemental budget.

Robin Dale,
CEO, Washington Health Care Association

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