State’s long-term care ranking poor _lowres

Photo provided by EILEEN KENNEDY -- At a Dec. 12, 2013, reception recognizing 2013 AARP Andrus Award for Community Service recipient Eileen Butler Kennedy, sixth from left, are AARP Louisiana staff members Jason Tutor, Denise Bottcher; Kathy Burch-Payne, Jeanne George, Brenda Hatfield, Nancy McPherson, Margie Dominick and Andrew Muhl.

Louisiana ranks 37th in the nation in meeting the long-term care needs of its older residents, according to a new state-by-state AARP Scorecard released Thursday.

The state’s worst marks come from the inability to place many of its older residents in the most appropriate settings — 51st among states and the District of Columbia — and the 41st ranking out of 51 for quality of life and quality of care indicators.

Andrew Muhl, director of advocacy for AARP Louisiana, said more must be done, and at an accelerated pace, to change state policies.

“It’s important that the state offer choices for people to stay in the home and community. We need to rebalance and reshift the funds from nursing homes to home- and community-based care,” he said.

Louisiana ranks 28th in the percentage of Medicaid long-term care dollars that support care provided to older people and adults with physical disabilities at home and in the community, which is the care setting AARP said most Louisianans prefer.

The Scorecard shows a high percentage of nursing home residents who don’t need much care but may be institutionalized because of a lack of services in their own communities.

Muhl also said the report underscores the need for Louisiana’s nursing homes to change resident care policies. The AARP found the same thing as a recently issued legislative auditor’s report: High numbers of residents in Louisiana nursing homes, when compared with other states, have bed sores and are administered antipsychotic drugs.

The AARP survey was done with the support of the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based private foundation that supports health care research, and the SCAN Foundation, a Long Beach, California, private charity that supports research on care for the elderly.

The Louisiana branch of the AARP has more than 475,000 members 50 and older, Muhl said.

The state Department of Health and Hospitals issued a statement from state Office of Aging and Adult Services Assistant Secretary Hugh Eley that did not address the problems cited in the report. Eley instead pointed to improvements in the rate of people getting their first long-term services and supports in the community — where Louisiana ranks 27 among 51 — and that at least 45 percent of people with age-related or physical disabilities who receive Medicaid-funded services are getting them in the community.

“The department looks forward to continued improvements through initiatives like the Balancing Incentive Program and the Money Follows the Person program,” Eley stated.

“Raising Expectations 2014: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities and Family Caregivers” is an update of the inaugural 2011 scorecard.

It gives an overall ranking of states as well as looks at how they fare within 26 performance indicators that are broken down into five categories: affordability and access, choice of setting and provider, quality of life and quality of care, support for family caregivers and effective transitions.

According to the report, the top five states in the U.S. based on their long-term care policies are Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska. The bottom rankings go to Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Indiana.

Long-term care is a diverse set of services designed to help older people and those with disabilities. Services can be provided in a person’s home, in a community setting such as an adult day center or in a group residential facility such as a nursing home.

Follow Marsha Shuler on Twitter, @MarshaShulerCNB. For more coverage of the State Capitol, follow Louisiana Politics at http://blogs.