GAO: 12 Million Seniors Not Receiving Needed Home-Based Care
June 17, 2015 09:28 AM
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported this month that an estimated 75 percent of seniors who likely need home-based care are not receiving such home-based services.
In the report, GAO analyzed the most recent data available from two national surveys, the 2013 Current Population Survey (CPS) and the 2012 Health and Retirement Study (HRS). To estimate the number of seniors who likely need home-based care, GAO analyzed 2012 HRS data on the number of respondents “age 60 and older who reported having difficulty with one or more daily activities and whether they received help.”
“An estimated 27 percent (about 16 million) of older adults from all income levels report difficulties with one or more daily activities, indicating they may need home-based care, according to our analysis of 2012 HRS data,” GAO wrote in the report. “Two-thirds or more of these older adults either receive no help, or receive help with some, but not all, of their difficulties—either formally from sources such as Title III programs and Medicaid or informally through family members. Specifically, between approximately 67 and 78 percent do not receive help with all identified difficulties, depending on the number and type of difficulty.”
GAO conducted the study in response to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who requested the agency update its findings on how many seniors need services provided under the Older Americans Act of 1965. Sanders is advocating for reauthorization of and increased funding for the Older Americans Act programs. GAO indicated the problem is based on the growing senior population as well as inadequate funding for services provided under the Older Americans Act.
“The demand for these programs is great and in many areas of the country vulnerable seniors are on waiting lists for services that they desperately need,” wrote Sanders in a letter signed by 32 other senators addressed to the Senate Appropriations Committee members responsible for setting the funding levels for senior programs. “A nation is judged by how it cares for its most vulnerable including the elderly and children. It is not acceptable that millions of elderly in this country are living in poverty and struggling to feed themselves.”
The GAO report provides strong support for the reauthorization and expansion of the Older Americans Act. In addition, it is a useful market analysis for home care companies in understanding the business potential that is increasing as the U.S. population ages and it is unlikely that all seniors in need of home care will qualify for or have access to care through the Older American Act funding.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has long advocated for strengthening and expanding the Older Americans Act home care programs. Given the findings of the GAO, NAHC will recommend that the Congress hold a hearing highlighting the issues of care access under the OAA, establish outreach support services to identify individuals in need, and take action to increase integration of services provided under the Older Americans Act into the realm of the myriad of social services and health care programs for senior citizens.
You can read the full GAO report here.