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AARP poll of AR likely voters shows overwhelming support for more funding, availability of at-home long-term care

Survey shows 91% support funding shift from nursing homes to at-home care provided by caregivers & helping people live independently a powerful potential issue for candidates, especially among caregivers

LITTLE ROCK—AARP Arkansas today released a poll showing that 50+ likely voters overwhelmingly support shifting additional federal long-term care funding from nursing homes to home-based care, and where candidates stand on helping people live independently will play an important role in voting decisions.  

 These poll results show the importance placed by Arkansas voters on availability and funding of long-term care outside of nursing homes —for themselves and for their loved ones. Other issues explored in the poll included voter preferences in the Governor’s race and regarding Arkansas’ Private Option for affordable health care.

 The full polling report (Arkansas Voters Age 50+ and the 2014 Gubernatorial Election) may be accessed at www.aarp.org/yourvote ; it also includes data on 50+ voter concerns about financial security captured in an “Anxiety Index” and other issues covered in an Aug. 11 AARP Arkansas news release. The earlier news release, which additionally noted voter preferences in Arkansas’ 2014 U.S. Senate race, is available at http://bit.ly/1sHPj1I; the full polling report from that release (Arkansas Voters Age 50+ and the 2014 Senate Election) is also available at www.aarp.org/yourvote

 Long-term Care, Living Independently and Caregiving

  • 90 percent of voters prefer to receive care at a setting other than a nursing home, with 73 percent preferring at home with caregiver assistance and 17 percent at an assisted living facility. Of the remainder, 7 percent said they were unsure and 3 percent chose a nursing home.
  • 74 percent of all voters, and 78 percent of voters from caregiver households, believe elected officials should make availability at-home care a “very important” or “extremely important” priority
  • 78 percent of voters stated that helping older people and the disabled live independently is an important issue in their voting decision, with 63 percent of all voters, and 68 percent of current caregivers, calling it “very important”
  • 91 percent support, and 81 percent “strongly support,” the federal government giving states like Arkansas more flexibility with long-term funding so that seniors can receive services in their homes if that is their preference.* (see page 2)

 A comprehensive Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports released in June 2014 by AARP ranks Arkansas 40th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia when it comes to meeting the long-term care needs of older and disabled residents. The state of Arkansas spends about $1 billion a year on long-term care and supports, with the vast majority going toward nursing home care—despite 90 percent of Arkansas voters, as noted above, preferring to receive care in a setting other than a nursing home.

 “Despite this preference, despite the fact home care is less costly that nursing home care, and despite the fact families are making herculean efforts to care for their the loved ones, about 70 cents of every Medicaid long-term care dollar in Arkansas is spent on nursing home care and only 30 cents for home care,” said Herb Sanderson, AARP Arkansas Associate State Director for Advocacy. “This poll shows that Arkansas voters agree that the state of Arkansas is not spending its long-term care dollars as wisely as it could be. “It makes financial sense and common sense to enable people to stay in their own homes and communities whenever possible and as long as possible.”

Other Poll Findings  

  • Those with a preference are divided about equally between Mike Ross [D] and Asa Hutchinson [R] with 10 percent of voters undecided.
  • 52 percent of undecided older voters in Arkansas’ race for Governor have had difficulty finding objective and reliable information about the record and positions of candidates running for office this November.
  • A plurality (43 percent) of 50+ voters support Arkansas’ Private Option for affordable health care, enacted by the Arkansas Legislature in 2013 and renewed for another year in 2014. One in five voters is still undecided on this issue.

* The following information was provided before this poll question was asked: “Currently, states receive federal funds to help low-income seniors and people with disabilities when the basic tasks of life become difficult due to aging or illness. At present, states are required to spend the majority of these funds on nursing home care. Arkansas has asked the federal government for the flexibility to shift existing funding from nursing homes to care provided at a person’s home.”

Methodology: The bipartisan polling team of Hart Research Associates and North Star Opinion Research conducted a statewide telephone survey among 1,200 likely 2014 voters age 50/over (margin of error ±2.9 percentage points) June 24-July 1, 2014, including 742 retirees (margin of error ±3.6 percentage points), and 458 non-retirees (margin of error ±4.6 percentage points). Respondents were selected at random from a list of registered voters and were reached either on a landline or mobile phone.

About AARP AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.  AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org

1 comments
kl6493
kl6493 5pts

Not only in Arkansas, but across the US, many long-term care dependents prefer home health care rather than nursing facility stay due to lower costs. The state of Arkansas should be able to allocate the budget appropriately to provide more support for home and community based care services. Based on Arkansas long-term care information at www.infolongtermcare.org/state-long-term-care-information/arkansas, the state have a program where senior citizens can access home and community-based care services through a waiver under Medicaid called ElderChoices, therefore, legislators and officials should provide a more comprehensive funding for this program to enable its residents to easily access home care and address the issue of people staying in institutional settings who prefers to receive care at home. One way is to reduce hospital readmission, therefore, concentrating care in a home setting. There should be a more efficient way to determine what people want and what services are available for them.