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More Pa. organizations offer alternative care

| Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, 4:19 p.m.

Responding to disproportional reimbursements and changes in demand, some care providers in the state are limiting 24-hour skilled nursing care and free personal care, said Ron Barth, president and chief executive officer of LeadingAge PA, a Mechanicsburg-based association of 350 not-for-profit organizations that helps senior citizens.

They are focusing on less-expensive, alternative care, such as assisted living, day services, fee-based personal care and market-rate or government-subsidized housing with services, he said.

The alternative forms of care are paid for by residents and/or their private insurance instead of Medicaid, which can only be used to help pay for nursing care in most cases, experts said.

The average nursing home costs $8,000 to $9,000 monthly at the private rate, but Medicaid, which 65 percent of nursing-home residents receive, covers 85 percent of the cost, Barth said.

Pennsylvania ranks fourth among all states in its percentage of residents at least 65 and at least 85 years old. The rates are 15.6 percent and 2.48 percent, respectively, according to the Census Bureau.

Since 2000, the number of licensed nursing facilities statewide decreased by 83, or 10.5 percent, to 711, according to the state Department of Health.

While the occupancy rate remained consistent, at about 90 percent, between 2000 and 2011, the number of beds decreased by 6,476, or 7 percent, according to LeadingAge PA.

The number of licensed personal care facilities statewide decreased 28 percent to 1,326 between 2000 and 2011, according to the state Department of Public Welfare, which attributes the decrease to more state regulations and the downturn in the economy.

Tory N. Parrish is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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