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Health and Housing Must-Reads, January 14

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) launched the Senior Health and Housing Task Force in 2015. We are sharing some recently released publications, speeches, and testimony we consider relevant to our work. The views expressed in these pieces do not necessarily represent the views of the task force, its co-chairs, members, advisors or BPC.

Compiled by Anand Parekh, MDNikki Rudnick and Jake Varn

Let’s Talk About Aging This Holiday Season
By Jason Grumet and Anand Parekh, U.S. News & World Report

“One of the joys of the holiday season is being with family and loved ones. Aside from the festivities central to all holiday celebrations, family gatherings also offer opportunities to collectively address important personal challenges. One reality being faced by every family in this country is aging.

“It is estimated that the number of Americans aged 65 or older is projected to rise from 40 million in 2010 to nearly 73 million in 2030; those aged 85 or older will increase in number from 5.5 million to nearly 9 million over the same period. According to AARP, 87 percent of seniors wish to remain in their homes and communities as they continue to age. But is this really practical and how will they do so?

“Many people will want to stay in their own homes. Unfortunately, most homes lack the necessary structural features (no-step entries; single-floor living; switches and outlets accessible at any height; extra-wide hallways and doors; and lever-style door and faucet handles) that can make independent living into senior years a viable and safe option.” Read the article.

3 Christmas wishes for housing joy
By Pamela Patenaude, HousingWire

“Over the next fifteen years, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is poised to nearly double, reaching 73 million by 2030. Some seniors will face housing affordability challenges. Others, while seeking to age in place, will realize their homes lack the structural features to enable safe and independent living. Compounding these problems is the fact that many seniors will eventually require help with activities like bathing, dressing, and medication management, often referred to as “long-term services and supports.” Read the article.

Hospitals and Housing: A Thirty-Year Commitment to Housing
By Les Gura, Stakeholder Health Magazine

“Bon Secours Baltimore Health System is located in the heart of southwest Baltimore, a residential neighborhood that in the late 1980s faced the flight of its middle class population and a deteriorating neighborhood around its hospital. Despite that, Bon Secours Baltimore chose at the time to invest $30 million in a new hospital wing, a huge commitment to imaging, inpatient and outpatient units, new operating rooms and ambulatory surgeries.

“It turned out to be a flop.

“Rather than drive patient volume, the hospital continued to struggle, says George Kleb, who today is executive director of housing and community development for Bon Secours Baltimore. But it was hardly the end.” Read the article.

2015 White House Conference on Aging: Final Report

“The White House has held a Conference on Aging every decade, beginning in 1961, to identify and advance actions to improve the quality of life of older Americans. In 2015, the United States marked the 50th anniversaries of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging provided an opportunity to recognize the importance of these key programs as well as to look ahead to the next decade.” Read the report.

New Health Programs for Elderly Poor Make Rocky Start
By John Kamp and Jennifer Levitz, The Wall Street Journal

“A federal experiment to curb health spending and improve care for disabled and elderly poor people is off to a rocky start, with enrollment falling short of expectations as patients prove reluctant to switch to the new programs.

“The struggles experienced by the pilot plans, which aim to streamline care for people who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, come despite a growing national urgency about caring for the aging impoverished. The push to simplify their coverage through the Affordable Care Act received rare bipartisan support.” Read the article.

Formerly Homeless People Had Lower Overall Health Care Expenditures After Moving Into Supportive Housing
By Bill J. Wright, Keri B. Vartanian, Hsin-Fang Li, Natalie Royal and Jennifer K. Matson, Center for Outcomes Research and Education at Providence Health and Services (CORE)

“The provision of supportive housing is often recognized as important public policy, but it also plays a role in health care reform. Health care costs for the homeless reflect both their medical complexity and psychosocial risk factors. Supportive housing attempts to moderate both by providing stable places to live along with on-site integrated health services. In this pilot study we used a mixture of survey and administrative claims data to evaluate outcomes for formerly homeless people who were living in a supportive housing facility in Oregon between 2010 and 2014. Results from the claims analysis showed significantly lower overall health care expenditures for the people after they moved into supportive housing. Expenditure changes were driven primarily by reductions in emergency and inpatient care.” Read the report.

How New Tech Could Help Senior Housing’s Isolation Problem
By Marky Kate Nelson, Senior Housing News

“Though some tech-savvy seniors can be found on Facebook, joining a modern-day social network may seem out of reach for a large number of older adults?especially those who are unfamiliar with or resistant to technology. Now, some tech innovators and forward-thinking senior housing providers are taking steps to change things.

“Thanks to work out of the University of Notre Dame, residents at two senior housing communities in South Bend, Indiana, have been able to create their own social networks, fostering a sense of community where it had previously been lacking.” Read the article.

Vancouver Is Leading the Way on Accessory Dwelling Units
By Frances Bula, CityLab

“Laneway houses are Vancouver’s answer to a growing trend in North America’s priciest metro areas. The idea is to squeeze more housing into residential areas without changing the character of the neighborhood too much. The small homes, known in other cities as ‘coach houses,’ ‘granny flats,’ or ‘accessory dwelling units,’ are meant to offer a way for middle-income people to live in locations they otherwise could not afford.

“Vancouver created the most permissive policy in North America, allowing laneway homes to be built on almost all single-family lots. The city of about 640,000 people has seen almost 2,000 applications for laneway houses in the six years they’ve been allowed. About 85 per cent of those have been built, according to home builder Jake Fry, whose company called Smallworks is the best known in what has become a niche building sector.” Read the article.

The on-demand economy: Changing the way we live as we age
By Luke Yoquinto and Joseph Coughlin, The Washington Post

“Companies such as Instacart, Uber and TaskRabbit may be known for their appeal to young, urban consumers, but they may soon influence older adults’ lives just as profoundly. Offering alternatives to traditional, senior-oriented services, these companies stand to transform how the older demographic gets things done.

“At 88, Sally Lindover already participates as both a user and a provider in what’s known as the on-demand and sharing economy.” Read the article.

Getting old in America
By Stuart Butler, Brookings Institution

“As Baby Boomers hit the retirement age, they are worrying about the potential costs and medical needs associated with growing old in America. With good reason. An estimated 70 percent of adults turning 65 next year will eventually need some level of long-term care and support services (LTSS) of some form. If they end up needing nursing home care, that now averages nearly $90,000 a year.

“Public programs spend well over $100 billion annually on LTSS. But despite this public spending, older Americans requiring care typically must cover roughly half of the cost out-of-pocket?although the amount varies widely. Meanwhile, the additional unpaid family cost of caring for the aged is startling. According to a recent AARP research report, approximately 34 million family members and friends?mainly women?provided unpaid care to an older American last year.” Read the article.

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