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Legislature Funds Long-Term Care Priorities Selectively

Hawaii State Capitol

As the 2013 legislative session came to a close, volunteer advocates welcomed the passage of legislation tied to AARP Hawaii’s long-term care priorities - but cautioned that more must be done to address a growing elder-care challenge that threatens to overwhelm individuals and families.

“AARP welcomes funding commitments for Kupuna Care and Aging and Disability Resource Centers,” said AARP Hawaii State President Gerry Silva. “At the same time we believe state government should be more proactive in preparing older residents and their families to cope with the rising cost of care which threatens their retirement security.”

AARP advocates came into the session eager to support legislation based on recommendations outlined in the 2012 Long-Term Care Commission report. As the dust settled, lawmakers ended up funding just one of two recommendations seen as critical to reforming Hawaii long-term care system – which the Commission described as “broken.”

Legislators provided funds for an actuarial and feasibility study of a mandatory public insurance program for Hawaii’s working population. They rejected a related bill that would have financed a public education campaign that AARP and other elder advocates believe is necessary to help residents understand the risks associated with long-term care. The Commission stressed the need for public awareness in its report to the Legislature last year.

“Unless we provide Hawaii residents with basic information about long-term care, including the different types of care services available, how much they cost, and the risk of needing some form of care in the future, many older residents and their families are in for a rude awakening in the years ahead as they realize how limited their options are,” Silva said.

The Commission report identified the crux of the long-term care challenge facing the state: Hawaii’s population is aging and eldercare is beyond the financial reach of most people. Many studies support this assessment. In a 2012 AARP survey of Hawaii residents age 50+ nearly two-thirds (64 percent) said they are not confident they can afford to pay for even one year in a nursing home. A separate national survey last year pegged the annual cost of one year in a private nursing home in Hawaii at $125,000.

Here’s an overview of AARP’s priority outcomes for the 2013 session:

Kupuna Care – ( SB106 SD1 HD1 CD1) – Legislature authorized $8.4 million of $9 million requested. Kupuna Care is a state-funded program that gives seniors who aren’t eligible for Medicaid access to in-home services that supplement the care of unpaid family caregivers.

Aging & Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) – ( HB200 HD1 SD1 CD1) – Legislature authorized $1.4 million of $1.8 requested. ADRCs are designed to simplify the experience of getting information about long-term care services for consumers and their families.

Public Long-Term Care Feasibility and Actuarial Study – ( HB 200 HD1 SD1 CD1) – Legislature authorized $380,000. In is 2012 report to the state Legislature, the Hawaii Long-Term Care Commission recommended that a mandatory, public insurance program for Hawaii’s working population be considered. The study is the first step in that process.

Long-Term Care Education and Awareness Campaign – ( HB2 SD1) – Legislature rejected funding request of $500,000. The Hawaii Long-Term Care Commission recommended last year that education was needed to inform residents about the risks of needing long-term care and motivate them to begin planning for their potential care needs.

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