Medicaid: The Fight to Save Caregiver Support

“If my mom wasn’t able to get approved for Medicaid I don’t know where my family would be. It’s scary to think where she would be, but we know she has safety and help.” Erika Roden, Family Caregiver

By Becca Verda

Medicaid provides health coverage to seniors, children, pregnant women, parents and individuals with disabilities. Financial support programs like Medicaid are vital to these groups and families coping with Alzheimer’s disease. However, the growing cost of care is becoming less and less sustainable to States.

Erica Roden_family

Erika and her family from left to right: Ben Snyder, Margaret Brossman, Jenessa Snyder holding nephew Jude Marley, Carli Marley, Michael Marley, Scott Roden, Erika holding Rebecca Roden and Erika’s mother Beverly Swanson.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s new report, The Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease on Medicaid Costs: A Growing Burden for States found that Medicaid costs for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in Washington State totals $424 million. That money helps people every day, like Erika Roden, and their families. Erika has cared for her mother since she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2012.  She and her sisters found assistance through Medicaid’s COPES program, a home and community based waver program that pays for services in the home or for long term care.

“It has helped us tremendously,” says Erica, “COPES gives us the financial freedom to not stress about how my mom is going to get the help she needs and do everyday life things like get groceries. She has safety and someone looking in on her, it’s a relief to have that help.”

While programs like Medicaid provide financial assistance to caregivers, they also help address the emotional strain of caregiving. “When my mom was diagnosed,” Erika recalls, “there were so many emotions going through me. I was so focused on what just happened to my mom that it was hard to focus on finances. Sometimes you just need outside support to give you the extra push to keep going.”

Medicaid gives families like Erika’s the support they need to face Alzheimer’s and dementia every day. However, with the rising cost of care, Washington State needs a sustainable plan to continue to provide this support. Between 2015 and 2025 Medicaid spending for Alzheimer’s and dementia is expected to rise 54% in Washington, totaling $653 million.

It’s critical to find financial alternatives and sustainable support for families . This is why The Washington State Plan to Address Alzheimer’s is so important.  It provides recommendations to address crucial supports, including availability and affordability of long-term services. The State Plan will help address how families like Erika’s will continue to find the support they need even when Medicaid is no longer the answer.

If you are a caregiver or living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association can help you find support and resources. Call today 1.800.272.3900 or visit alzwa.org.

 

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2 comments

  1. Does the Washington State plan consider “Death with Dignity” for dementia patients who have clearly expressed their wishes in writing prior to become incapacitated?

    1. Hello Roy, that is a great question. Because of the way the Death with Dignity law is written dementia patients do not qualify. You can learn more from End of Life Washington http://endoflifewa.org/

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