Byron Mallott, candidate for governor, Thursday called for a public-private partnership to help keep seniors and Alaskans with disabilities in their homes as long as possible.
“There’s no question that it’s best for Alaskans and best for cost-savings,” said Mallott. “The state has twelve studies on the shelf about long-term care in Alaska, yet it remains a financial burden for the system and for families. There’s been virtually no action from the state on improving standards of home-based care.”
Alaska has the fastest growing aging population, yet ranks 38th in affordability and access according to a recent annual AARP scorecard.
“The so-called ‘silver tsunami’ is on the way and we must do what we can now to better prepare Alaska and contain costs,” said Mallott, himself an AARP member.
State and federal governments split the cost of Medicaid payments for eligible older Alaskans. The state’s own experts report that Medicaid spending on the elderly is expanding faster than any other category; in the next couple years it will hit $500 million and keep growing.
Mallott proposed a “long-term campaign about long-term care.”
“If we have any hope of containing costs for families and for the state, a sustained ‘campaign’ must start now and focus on paid and unpaid caregivers,” said Mallott.
AARP estimates that up to 128,000 Alaskans help relatives “age in place” by assisting with daily living activities, medical tasks, finances, transportation and more. In addition, there are about 2,000 beds statewide in private homes.