Report: Disease will hike state outlays

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It's well known that Alzheimer's takes a huge toll on its victims. Less known is that state budgets may be soon suffering as well.

A new report from the Alzheimer's Association predicts that between 2015 and 2025, Medicaid costs for people living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias will increase in every state in the U.S. and the District of Columbia. In fact, by 2025, 35 states will see increases in Alzheimer's Medicaid costs of at least 40% over 2015 levels, according to “The Impact of Alzheimer's Disease on Medicaid Costs: A Growing Burden for States.”

Seniors with Alzheimer's and other dementias rely on Medicaid, which is funded by state and federal governments, at a rate nearly three times greater than other seniors due to the long duration of the disease, the intense personal care needs and the high cost of long-term care services. According to the “Alzheimer's Association Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures” report, by the age of 80, 75% of people with Alzheimer's and other dementias will be admitted to a nursing home, compared with just 4% of the general population.

The average per-person Medicaid spending for those with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias is 19 times higher than average per-person spending across all other seniors, the Alzheimer's Association “Facts and Figures” report notes.

The economic cost to society as a whole can be just as devastating, as total payments for healthcare, longterm care and hospice are projected to increase from an estimated $214 billion this year to $1.2 trillion by 2050.

Alzheimer's is a triple threat, with soaring prevalence, lack of treatment and enormous costs that no one can afford. Barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, stop or slow Alzheimer's disease, state governments must anticipate the demands of long-term care on their Medicaid budgets.

Alzheimer's symptoms include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment and trouble understanding spatial relationships. Over time, affected individuals become totally dependent on others for all essentials of daily living. People with severe or late-stage Alzheimer's eventually lose their ability to eat, bathe and manage their own bodily functions.

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