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“Alzheimer’s Tsunami”

Published on October 16th, 2017

The Huffington Post reported on Medicaid cuts in Iowa.  “The aging population is fueling what some health experts call an “Alzheimer’s tsunami” for which Iowa, and the rest of the nation, is ill-prepared. Unless a cure is found, an estimated 7.1 million Americans age 65 and older could have Alzheimer’s by 2025, almost a 35 percent increase, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Iowa’s 65-plus population is above the national average.   In South Carolina, the total number of cases of Alzheimers in 2015 was 86,000; 120,000 are expected by 2025, according to Alzheimer’s Association estimates.

But instead of preparing for the onslaught, Iowa and other states have begun tightening Medicaid, the only government program that pays for nursing home care, in ways that increase the burden on those with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones.

Medicaid, typically seen as the government health insurance program for people with low incomes and those with disabilities, spends about one-quarter of its $4.8 billion in annual funding in Iowa for nursing home care. The program pays for half the nursing home residents in the state, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Already, Iowa’s move last year to a Medicaid system managed by three for-profit companies is affecting people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

Kathy Horan, vice president of AbbeHealth Aging Services, which operates adult day health centers in Marion, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, said managed care organizations, or MCOs, that coordinate Medicaid recipients’ care have started to decrease the number of days covered at those centers.

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