The Average Cost of Nursing Home Care Moves Upward in 2012

December 19, 2012

The cost of long-term care increased significantly, according to the 2012 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home, Assisted Living, Adult Day Services, and Home Care Costs. Private room nursing home rates jumped 3.8 percent to $90,520 a year or $248 a day, while assisted living facility costs rose 2.1 percent on average to $42,600 a year or $3,550 a month.

The average cost of homemaker/companions increased by 5.3 percent to $20 per hour. The news wasn’t all about increases, however. The cost of adult day care services remained the same as last year at $70 per day and the average cost of home health aides remained at $21 per hour.

The survey also reports on the cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home, which increased 3.7 percent to $222 a day, or $81,030 a year.

Once again, the highest rates for a private nursing home room in 2012 were found in Alaska, where the average cost rose from $655 a day to $687 a day. This year the lowest rates were found in Oklahoma (with the exception of Oklahoma City and Tulsa) at an average of $147 a day for a private room. Texas (with the exception of Austin, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and Houston) had the lowest rate for a semi-private room at an average of $131 per day.

The cost of assisted living continues to be the highest in the Washington, D.C., area, at $5,933 a month (up from $5,757 a month in 2011) and the lowest in Arkansas (except for Little Rock) at $2,355 a month (up from $2,156 a month in 2011). Average home health care aide services ranged from a high of $32 an hour in Rochester, Minnesota (down from $34 an hour in 2011), to $13 an hour in the Shreveport area of Louisiana (down from $14 an hour in 2011). Adult day care services were highest in Vermont at an average of $141 a day and lowest in the Montgomery, Alabama, area, at $26 a day, both down from 2011.

For the full 2012 report, including listings of average long-term care costs in selected cities, click here

To discuss elder law issues with an attorney, please call the Elder Law Center at 630-844-0065 or contact us via email. The Elder Law Center is located in Aurora, IL, Kane County, in the Chicago Western Suburbs.

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What Do the Election Results Mean for Seniors?

December 1, 2012

Now that the votes are counted and President Obama has a second term, what does it mean for seniors? While President Obama’s re-election means Medicare and Medicaid as we know them will likely be preserved at least for the next four years, many challenges are still ahead.  

One of the biggest outcomes of the election is that the Affordable Care Act (ACA – a.k.a. “Obamacare”), which candidate Mitt Romney had promised to repeal, will almost certainly remain as law and be fully implemented.  The law is already beginning to close the gap in Medicare’s prescription drug coverage known as the “doughnut hole,” as well as providing free preventative care for Medicare recipients. The ACA also included a number of provisions aimed at improving long-term care and helping recipients remain in their homes rather than be forced into nursing homes, and these will continue to be carried out.

There may be some issues ahead, however.  Before the end of the year, Congress will try to avoid going over the “fiscal cliff,” which is what will happen if it fails to act on continuing at least some of the Bush-era tax cuts and fails to prevent automatic spending cuts that it agreed to as part of last year’s deficit reduction deal.  Many economists believe that the combination of the two could send the fragile economy back into recession.  Lawmakers are now trying to agree on a “grand bargian,” alternative spending and revenue measures that will will help reduce the deficit while not damaging the economy. 

Although Medicare and Medicaid will likely maintain their current structures, cuts may be made during these negotiations or later. The President still has to deal with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, many of whom want to cut spending and entitlement programs.

President Obama reportedly offered to increase the Medicare age to 67 in last year’s budget negotiations with Republicans.  In addition, many are worried that the President may be inclined to cut Social Security benefits as well during fiscal cliff negotiations, according to a recent policy update from the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.  During the first debate, the President said his position on Social Security did not differ markedly from Governor Romney’s.  Romney supported raising the retirement age and privatizing Social Security benefits.  

“There is going to be the fight of our lifetime to maintain Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” says Eric Kingson, a professor of social work at Syracuse University quoted in a Huffington Post article titled “Obama’s Second Term and Older Americans.”

According to a Reuters article, congressional Republicans are also expected to ask for concessions from the ACA, including delaying and scaling back the planned expansion of Medicaid.  In addition, state lawmakers, many of whom are Republican, will decide how the ACA is carried out. Thirty states have Republican governors, some of whom have said that they will opt out of the Medicaid expansion provided for in the ACA. But President Obama’s re-election may boost the prospects for expansion. According to Kaiser Health News, his win may prod reluctant states to move forward with the expansion.

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care warns that “hard budgetary decisions made by the President along with Congress could potentially cause some long-term care consumers to face higher care costs or a decline in access to services.” The National Coalition on Health Care, a group of consumer groups, unions, and employers, has released a plan to control spending without cutting Medicare or Medicaid. More proposals and compromises are likely to be considered in the coming months.

To discuss elder law issues with an attorney, please call the Elder Law Center at 630-844-0065 or contact us via email. The Elder Law Center is located in Aurora, IL, Kane County, in the Chicago Western Suburbs.