Why the growing cost of aging and long-term care should be political issues

Published: Monday, October 31, 2022 - 3:08pm
Updated: Monday, October 31, 2022 - 3:10pm
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Voters are talking about a lot of things this election season: the economy and abortion to name a few. But Arizona is home to millions of older adults, yet the high cost of aging and long-term care is hardly an issue.

First, Medicare does not pay for long-term care. And long-term care can cost upwards of $8,000 a month in Arizona.

Robert Espinoza is with PHI, which studies the paid caregiving workforce

"The truth is, it's a nonpartisan issue," he said. "I mean, all of us will reach a point in our lives where we will need or someone we know will need professional support to age with dignity and with independence wherever we live, right?"

So why are politicians not talking about this growing crisis? 

"On the surface it seems like a perfect election issue right? Like all of us are going to face it," said David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. He says in the U.S., it’s often families that bear the burden.

"And we put this on the backs of the older adults themselves. And then we ask them to spend down their savings to qualify for Medicaid, which is such an imperfect insurance model for lots of reasons," Grabowski said. 

Then we expect spouses, adult children, even friends to provide additional unpaid care.

Grabowski and Espinoza say there are solutions. And Grabowski says other countries like the Netherlands are doing it better. The difference: Its government has chosen to prioritize long term care solutions. 

I think what there's a few reasons we haven't seen these solutions really gained traction across the board. I mean, what is the willingness of certain policy makers to address these issues? I don't think that's necessarily shared across parties," explained Espinoza.