Problem of high cost assisted living is not unique to Virginia

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By ELIZABETH SIMPSON, The Virginian-Pilot
January 14, 2007

When David Thomas began the search for an assisted-living facility for his 84-year-old mother, he thought the hard part would be qualifying her for financial help.

He was wrong.

His mother, Earlie Shepherd, easily met the standards of a state grant program that helps low-income people who need assisted living.

The hard part came when Thomas tried to find a place in South Hampton Roads that would accept the payment, known as an auxiliary grant.

Dozens of places turned him down.

“I had a list of 60 facilities,” said Thomas, who lives in Virginia Beach. “But as soon as you say ‘auxiliary grant,’ they shy away.”

It’s much the same across the state. The difficulty, people in the government and the industry say, is the low rate of the grant. The average monthly charge in Virginia’s assisted-living facilities is $2,172, according to a state survey last year. T he grant, though, is less than half that, at $1,048.

Most recipients supplement the grant, but it’s not enough to close the gap. For example, some of the 6,000 elderly or disabled Virginia residents receiving the grant also sign over disability payments.

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