The state of Massachusetts, like the rest of the United States, is facing an approaching crisis in long-term care. Over the next few decades the number of Massachusetts residents age 65 and older will soar. As these numbers increase, so will the need for long-term care.
Massachusetts is ill prepared to provide the services that will be needed. Our current system of health care benefits leaves many elders with gaps in coverage. Those individuals who need long-term services often impoverish themselves and their spouses before the state pays for their care. Others languish on waiting lists to receive services. Our current provider supply and direct care workforce is inadequate to meet the needs of today's elders, let alone cope with an increase in care needs. Although the state currently spends hundreds of millions of dollars on long-term care services provided by the MassHealth Program and the Home Care Program, providers are often reimbursed at below cost. We must reassess and plan for our future needs before the current problems in long-term care become a crisis.
Following is a list of recommendations to improve our long-term care system and to address the coming surge in elder demographics. The recommendations are grouped by subject area and address a wide range of systemic issues. The one overriding concern of the authors is the need for better public education about long-term care and the programs and services that are available to those in need. Until elders and their families have a better understanding of the system and its alternatives, it will not be possible for individuals to plan thoughtfully for their care needs.
Thomson, Deborah H. and Ford, John J., "Back to the Future: The Future of Long-Term Care in Massachusetts" (2004). Gerontology Institute Publications. 5.