Michiganders have been presented with a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to overhaul the state’s long-term care system, according to a new AARP Michigan report that makes the case for smaller nursing homes, investing in high-speed internet for better telehealth access and taking other steps to enable healthy aging.
The report, Closing the Gaps: Opportunities for Aging Well, argues that the COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on long-term care residents and staff has fueled support for industry reform. State Medicaid programs, for example, were expanded to cover more telehealth appointments. And the federal government sent billions of dollars in relief to state officials, which is being used to improve infrastructure and broadband connectivity in many places.
“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,” AARP Michigan director Paula Cunningham said in a statement.
The report includes a four-part call to action for state policymakers:
- Redirect Medicaid dollars to cover more at-home and community-based services, and expand access to smaller facilities and alternatives to traditional nursing homes.
- Boost investments in broadband and high-speed internet to expand educational and telehealth opportunities for older adults.
- Support family caregivers through state income tax credits.
- Address nursing home and skilled nursing staff shortages by boosting wages and improving the training and credentialing process.
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