Wall Street Journal Examines Nursing Home Care For Children With Disabilities

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The Wall Street Journal on Thursday examined how thousands of children with disabilities live in nursing homes, even as “the cost to taxpayers, and the strain on families, is much lower” when the child lives at home. CMS estimates that about 4,000 children nationwide live in nursing homes, many of which are primarily for the elderly. Medicaid guarantees nursing home care for people with disabilities, but coverage for in-home care is controlled by state governments and often is insufficient. Moreover, “there aren’t enough home care workers, nurses and therapists to serve these families,” the Journal reports.

About 93,000 disabled people of all ages are on waiting lists for home- and community-care services. But when “home care is available, it typically costs taxpayers less” than nursing home care, the Journal reports. Home and community care cost about $26,000 per year, according to the University of Minnesota Research and Training Center on Community Living, whereas the state of Georgia spends about $81,000 per patient on nursing home care.

CDC has called for all disabled children to be out of “congregate settings,” meaning facilities with four or more disabled persons, by 2010, and federal funding for in-home and community care has increased by nearly 300% since 1997. CMS spokesperson Mary Kahn said, “The Bush administration has been very supportive of home care.” However, the Journal reports that the number of institutionalized children has remained steady in recent years.

The Georgia Legislature in 2006 addressed the issue by providing $48 million to programs for the disabled, including a plan to return more than 140 institutionalized children to their families. Eighty-seven of the children had been in nursing homes (Ansberry, Wall Street Journal, 6/28).

“Reprinted with permission from http://www.kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at http://www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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