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CAN THE U.S. AVOID THE IMPENDING HEALTHCARE CRISIS?

Posted by: Laurence Harmon on 10/28/2008

The number of Americans older than age 85 is expected to double, from 4.7 million in 2003 to 9.6 million in 2030--and again, to 20.9 million in 2050. The unprecedented demographic shifts will inevitably threaten a healthcare system that's already rocked by the costs of regular medical care and the additional burden of long-term care.

The report considers strategies for avoiding an impending healthcare crisis as the number of older patients increasingly outpaces the number of healthcare workers who have the skills necessary to meet their needs.

The primary challenge is the shortage of health professionals, coupled with the staggering turnover rates among health aides working in nursing homes and home care agencies. The study concluded that possible solutions include workforce reforms that will recruit and retain geriatric specialists and healthcare aides. Other suggestions include preparing and educating informal in-home healthcare aides who will tend to the needs of their aging family members and friends and developing new models of healthcare delivery and payment by state and federal-level programs, such as Medicare reimbursement.


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