Rhode Island-specific data “at your fingertips”

AARP Public Policy Institute

Photo Credit: University of Oxford

The Washington-based AARP releases a resource report jampacked with data that will give state and federal policy makers data to make informed policy decisions.  On August 27, 2018, Across the States 2018: Profiles of Long-Term Services and Supports, the 10th edition of Across the States, uthored by AARP’s Public Policy Institute’s Ari Houser, Wendy Fox-Grage, Kathleen Ujvari, was released to the public.

Across the States, published for the past 24 years, is considered “the flagship publication” to assist policy makers in crafting programs and policies for long-term services and supports (LTSS).

The AARP report, released August 27, 2018, includes a myriad of aging topics include: age demographics a nd projections; living arrangements, income, and poverty; disability rates; costs of care; private long-term care insurance; Medicaid long-term services and supports; family caregivers; home- and community-based services (HCBS); and nursing facilities.  Each state profile is a four-page, user-friendly, print-ready document that provides each state’s data and rankings.

Spotlight on National Trends

AARP Public Policy Institute report details four national trends in reviewing state-specific data.  Of most importance, Across the States gives a warning to state and federal policymakers that America’s population is aging. The data reveals that America’s age 85 and over population, those most in need of aging programs and services, is projected to triple between 2015 and 2050, a whopping 208 percent increase.

In Rhode Island, the age 85 and over population was 2.7 percent of the state’s population. By 2050, look for the oldest-old population to inch up to 5.4 percent.  Will the Rhode Island General Assembly be prepared to provide care to the state’s increasing older population.

By comparison, the population younger than age 65 is expected to increase by only 12 percent. The under age 65 population, currently, 85 percent of the total population, is projected to be 78 percent in 2050.  Bad news for Congress as with the worker-to – beneficiary ratio projected to decline.

Culling through the data, Across the States researchers see the demographic shift impacting on the availability of caregiving.  The AARP report says that the national stats show that about 7 people ages 45–64 for every person age 80.  By 2050, that ratio will drop to 3 to 1. In the coming decades, look for less caregivers to be available to provide the informal care to their family members and loved ones, too.

According to Across the States, family caregivers provided $470 billion worth of unpaid care in 2013, more than six times the Medicaid spending on home and community-based services.  In Rhode Island, 134,000 provided 124 million hours of care annually with an economic value $ 1.78 billion.

America’s older population is also also becoming more diverse, reflecting overall trends in the general population. Across the States researchers note that the Hispanic population age 65 and over is projected to quadruple between 2015 and 2050.  That’s happening in Rhode Island, too.

Keeping Seniors at Home

Finally, the Across the States report notes that State Medicaid LTSS systems are becoming more balanced due to the increase of state dollars going to fund home and community-based services (specifically to care for older people and adults with disabilities).  But, this trend varies in level of balance, say the researchers, noting that in 2016 the percentage of LTSS spending for older people and adults with disabilities going to home and community based services ranged from 13 percent to 73 percent.  Over the years, the Rhode Island General Assembly has redirected funding to programs and services that keep older Rhode Islanders from being admitted to costly nursing homes care and in their homes.

For a copy of Across the States report and Rhode Island specifics, go to: www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2018/08/across-the-states-profiles-of-long-term-services-and-supports-full-report.pdf.



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