Politics & Government

Feds suspend Alaska's in-home care programs

ANCHORAGE — State programs intended to help disabled and elderly Alaskans with daily life — taking a bath, eating dinner, getting to the bathroom — are so poorly managed, the state cannot assure the health and well-being of the people they are supposed to serve, a new federal review found.

The situation is so bad the federal government has forbidden the state to sign up new people until the state makes necessary improvements.

No other state in the nation is under such a moratorium, according to a spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

In the meantime, frail and vulnerable Alaskans who desperately need the help are struggling. One elderly woman is stuck in a nursing home, for lack of care at home. Another woman, suffering from chronic pain and fatigue, said she's so weak, she often can't even pop dinner into the microwave.

The moratorium is expected to last four or five months. State officials estimate about 1,000 Alaskans will be affected.

A particularly alarming finding concerns deaths of adults in the programs. In one 2 1/2 year stretch, 227 adults already getting services died while waiting for a nurse to reassess their needs. Another 27 died waiting for their initial assessment, to see if they qualified for help.

The programs at issue provide in-home help for thousands of Alaskans with the basics of life, from medication to meals. The goal is to help people stay in their own homes rather than go into nursing homes or other institutions.

To read the complete article, visit www.adn.com.

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