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AARP Calls Upon Legislators to Close Gap on Long Term Care with Needed Reforms

Lansing, MI –  AARP Michigan released today its latest report, Closing the Gap: Opportunities for Aging Well, which calls for needed changes in Michigan’s long term care system and urges legislators to make use of federal funding under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 to usher in a smarter, safer and better system.

This latest round of AARP advocacy comes on the heels of new momentum for long term care reform at the state and federal level. In February, Michigan enacted HB 5523, a bipartisan supplemental appropriations bill that enables more people to age at home longer while also funding a new pilot to test single bed occupancy in nursing homes. And just last week, President Biden elevated a call to action in his State of the Union Address to ensure residents in nursing homes receive the safe, high-quality care they deserve.

AARP Michigan is asking legislators to build upon this momentum with meaningful action. “We’ve been pushing for a long time to permanently transform Michigan’s long-term care system so we can realize a future where all older adults have access to the health care, services and supports they need and can age with grace and dignity,” said Paula D. Cunningham, director of AARP Michigan. “Whether you’re 85 or 25, this is an issue that impacts every Michigander because long-term care is shouldered heavily by families, caregivers and taxpayers, and we need to manage it better as a state.”

Specifically, AARP is calling upon policymakers to:

  • Rebalance Michigan’s Medicaid investment away from institutional care toward home and community-based services (HCBS) that older adults overwhelmingly desire;
  • Increase access to alternative residential care settings such as Green House small nursing homes;
  • Expand access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet for Michigan residents in underserved areas, and support efforts to provide digital educational programs targeted at older adults;
  • Support family caregivers, including by passing a state income tax credit for family caregivers who pay expenses out of their own pockets to help care for an older family member; and
  • Address critical shortages in Michigan’s direct care workforce by advancing the recommendations of the Direct Care Workforce Advisory Committee, including efforts not just to increase wages, but to increase job satisfaction through improved staffing models and comprehensive training, credentialing, and career pathways.

According to AARP’s most recent Long-Term Services and Supports State Scorecard, Michigan continues to rank worse than many other states in terms of the large proportion of taxpayer dollars spent to provide care in nursing homes compared to the smaller share of resources that go toward providing long term care for older adults through HCBS. Currently, 68.5% of Michigan’s Medicaid spending for long term services and supports (LTSS) goes to pay for care in nursing homes, instead of in people’s homes, where they want to be.

For AARP resources and information on long term care, visit

For further information: Cathleen Simlar, or 248-472-7836.

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