Move toward in-home care for elderly in Montana needs significant investment from state

EMILY SCHABACKER

As pandemic-fueled financial losses continues to rattle the health-care industry, state officials have started nudging elderly Montanans toward aging at home. While encouraging aging-in-place is a step, the state will need to make significant investments in home-based senior and long-term care to meet the imminent swell in demand.

The historically low Medicaid reimbursement rate has fallen drastically short of the actual cost of care, causing a number of health facilities to operate at a financial loss. Senior and long-term care (SLTC) services have traditionally been underfunded, but a recent provider rate study revealed just how much.

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Not including nursing homes, the SLTC sector needs $35.9 million in order to bridge the gap between the cost of care and the reimbursement rate, according to the provider rate report.

Montana’s direct care workforce has not been immune to the health care worker shortage, and is short hundreds of caregivers, according to previous reporting by The Gazette. And in rural Eastern Montana, the shortages and recruitment challenges are amplified.

Direct care workers provide the in-home services people need in order to age safely in place and includes housekeeping, help with

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