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Study: MN Leads the Nation in Providing Assisted Living Options for Consumers

The nation’s assisted living field has experienced dramatic growth over the past 3 years, according to a recently-released report, Assisted Living and Residential Care in the States in 2010. In the report, Minnesota is held up as a national leader in providing consumer access to senior living options.

All told, states provided 51,367 licensed residential care settings in 2010. Those settings had a total capacity of 1.2 million beds that year, up from 1 million beds in 2007.

The publication was produced by the AARP Public Policy Institute with support from The SCAN Foundation and The Commonwealth Fund and is based on the findings of Raising Expectations: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers ,  released in September 2011.

Minnesota is Nation-Leading in Availability of Assisted Living Options
According to the report, Minnesota was the leader in the nation for the availability of assisted living units in 2010, offering 78 units per 1,000 residents aged 65 or older.  Nevada ranked the lowest with 14 units per 1,000 residents aged 65 or older.   The national average is 31 per 1,000.

This growth and development can be attributed to Minnesota’s decade-long efforts to rebalance our long-term care system to feature more of the home and community based options that consumers prefer, and that save the state millions of dollars.

For example, Minnesota has experienced dramatic declines in available nursing facility beds following the implementation of policies to incentivize bed closures and layaways.

As a result of these policies and changing market demands, we have seen a dramatic shift in where we serve our aging population, from skilled nursing facilities to housing with services.

These changes have led consumer groups and advocates, such as AARP, view Minnesota as a national leader in reform of the senior care sector.

According to AARP, “States that effectively inform people with LTSS needs about home and community care options and offer an array of service choices can address the preferences of consumers in a cost-effective manner. If all states rose to Minnesota's level of performance on this measure, 201,531 people could avoid costly and unnecessary nursing home use.”

Availability of Assisted Living a Key Indicator of Consumer Choice
While some policy makers may look at the supply the assisted living and question whether Minnesota has an oversupply of assisted living establishments, consumers and consumer advocacy groups hold Minnesota up as a state that is leading the way to provide alternatives to nursing homes that consumers prefer and choose whenever appropriate.

In a Case Study of Minnesota’s Long Term Care Services and Supports system conducted earlier this year, AARP noted that Minnesota’s supply of housing with services options was a key factor in Minnesota’s number one ranking in the Choice of Setting and Provider dimension of the Long Term Care Scorecard.

AARP noted that three of the top five states in capacity—Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington—ranked in the top five states for the percentage of Medicaid LTSS spending going to home and community-based services (HCBS), and also ranked as the top three states in overall LTSS performance.

Assisted Living Options Provide Cost-Effective Services to a Growing Senior Population
Earlier this year, state officials continued to express concerns about the impact of the growth of assisted living on Medicaid spending.  However, Aging Services finds that Assisted Living remains a cost-effective way to meet seniors’ needs.

Minnesota state officials reported that Medicaid beneficiaries account for 8 to 12 percent of assisted living residents and that 35 percent of all Elderly Waiver participants live in assisted living settings, accounting for 65 percent of Elderly Waiver spending.

In Minnesota, Elderly Waiver costs on average $2,500 per month per person less than nursing facility care (in total dollars).  We estimate that if all clients that are currently on EW were instead served in a nursing facility, it would cost the state an additional $337 million annually. 

Take Action: Discuss Positive Impact of Assisted Living with Policymakers
In this election season, it is important for assisted living providers to convey the positive story we have to tell about assisted living in Minnesota. As you encounter candidates on the campaign trail, be sure to be vocal about the choices and the high-quality, cost-effective services you provide. 

Better, yet, don’t wait for the candidate to find you.  Invite them to your setting today.  Visit the Aging Services’ Legislative Action Center and click on “Elections and Candidates” to find contact information for the candidates in your area. 

Aging Services is proud to serve the senior housing providers who put Minnesota on the map as a national leader and continue to find progressive, innovative ways to meet the changing demands of our aging population.

For more information, please Contact Kari Thurlow.

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