Budget cuts threaten much needed adult day care expansion

As the elder population continues to grow, so grows demand for adult day care. But with tight state and federal budgets, licensed facilities may be forced to shut down, or at the very least reduce plans to expand. Without adult day care, many seniors might otherwise be forced into nursing homes.

Adult daycare services are not a government-mandated, while nursing homes are covered by state and federal programs. Advocates are fighting to ensure the independence of seniors who may need some assistance but do not require the intensive care provided in nursing homes. Advocates argue that adult day care is a more affordable solution for the states. 

In fact, many recent studies prove that adult daycare and other services that allow seniors to live independently save money for states and individuals. According to a study conducted by MetLife, per-resident, nursing-home care costs on average $198 a day for a semi private room, while a full day at an adult day care center is $67. There are wide variations in rates of adult daycare in different states, e.g. rates can be as high as $150 a day in Vermont, and as low as $27.

However, without a legal mandate for such services, state legislators are more likely to reduce funding. 

"Governors are scrambling to reduce deficits, and they're going after the programs that aren't mandated by law," says Sara Myers, managing director of the Seattle-based National Adult Day Services Association. "Adult day care is optional."

The almost 4,000 state-licensed centers around the country rely heavily on funding from state legislatures and charities, which have been hit hard by the recession. Advocates for adult day care programs are pushing to include them in federal healthcare overhaul legislation while also lobbying state legislatures and suing state regulators to keep centers from shutting their doors. 

For more information
- read this Kaiser Health News/Washington Post story
- also see the 2009 MetLife Mature Market study