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Michigan officials propose long-term care system

Elderly citizens in Michigan may soon see more options for long-term nursing home care. State health officials plan to file for approval of a system that aims to better manage long-term care for seniors who are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.

The system is designed to save the state money while also providing more appropriate care for those in need. The proposal is meant to help determine whether individuals are in need of round-the-clock care or whether they can remain at home and receive in-home assistance.

According to a study by the American Association for Retired Persons, the median annual rate for a semi-private room in a Michigan nursing home was $80,300 in 2011. The AARP study also revealed that Michigan spent more tax dollars on Medicaid for nursing homes than 35 other states. Health officials in Michigan are now seeking federal approval in an attempt to turn those statistics around.

The proposed change will be submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services by April 26.

The state officials' move highlights the importance of including long-term planning for medical expenses in estate plan considerations. Clearly, nursing home care is expensive, and not always necessary. Thus, elder law practitioners have become increasingly aware of the importance of incorporating the costs of nursing home care into a comprehensive estate plan.

As noted in previous posts, the elderly population in America continues to increase, especially in Michigan. With that increase will come a greater demand for nursing homes and long-term care. Proper planning in earlier years can save Michigan residents money and provide peace of mind in the event that health problems arise later in life.

Source: The Detroit News, "Michigan health officials seek to create long-term care system for elderly," Chad Livengood, April 7, 2012

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