Alabama, Florida to Look into Elder Care Improvements
At the request of Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D), an 18- member Long Term Care Task Force will investigate and suggest ways to improve care for the state's elderly, the Birmingham News reports. Siegelman said that changes are necessary to deal with Alabama's "rapidly graying population," which is expected to double within 20 years. More than 700,000 Alabamians are now older than 60. Siegelman told the task force, "If we work together, we can provide our seniors the kind of care they so richly deserve." The task force, made up of nursing home owners, state officials and advocates for individuals with dementia, will examine reforms implemented by other states, including those that "boosted state home health services and subsidies for institution care." Task force Chair Dale Walley, a former Alabama Medicaid Agency commissioner, said he doubts the group will be able to recommend "substantial" reforms in time for the legislative session, due to start in February. He added that the state likely will not be ready to provide subsidies to assisted-living patients by the end of the year, one of Siegelman's goals. But Walley said, "We're going to get some good ideas out of this" (Chandler, Birmingham News, 11/14). 'Elder-Ready, Elder-Friendly' is Florida's Goal In Florida on Nov. 15, officials launched a campaign to make the Sunshine State the "first 'elder-ready, elder-friendly' state," the AP/Tampa Tribune reports. Speaking at the first Florida Elder Leadership Institute to representatives from aging agencies and health care facilities, Elder Affairs Secretary Gema Hernandez said, "It's time to lead, to take the front seat. It is absolutely vital that we are prepared to offer elders ways to age in place with security and purpose." The state has already started a pilot program to assess the needs of "frail" seniors who are hospitalized, and is focusing as well on the "frailty level of the family, not just the patient," to identify caregiver needs. Florida has some 3.5 million citizens age 60 and older (Leisner, AP/Tampa Tribune, 11/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.