News in Brief: Week of June 30-July 4

July 07, 2014 06:26 am News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Report Highlights Effects of Aging Baby Boomers

A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau( examines various health trends that can be tied to the growing population of older adults in the United States, especially the health, social and economic effects associated with the aging of the baby boomer generation.

[News in Brief]

According to a news release from the NIH(, which commissioned the study, the population of older adults has ballooned to more than 40 million and is expected to more than double by mid-century.

Report highlights include declines in both smoking and excessive alcohol use among those 65 and older. However, the report notes, the percentages of overweight and obese older people has increased. In addition, the prevalence of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic lung disease and diabetes increased in the older population from 1998 to 2008.

Another critical health-related issue detailed in the report is the rising cost of long-term care. For example, the average cost of a private room in a nursing home in 2010 was $229 per day, or $83,585 per year. Fewer than one in five older people have the financial resources to live in a nursing home for more than three years, and almost two-thirds cannot afford even one year. Thus, much of the long-term care currently provided to older adults comes from unpaid family members and friends, a trend that is likely to continue and even worsen in future years.

Study Reveals Steady Growth in Medicaid Spending

Between 2000 and 2012, yearly state and federal spending on Medicaid saw a slightly more than 4 percent compound annual growth rate after adjusting for inflation, according to a recent study( On a per-enrollee basis, however, Medicaid spending remained relatively stable over the past decade, rising by only 5 percent between 2000 and 2010 after adjusting for inflation.That figure is considerably lower than overall per capita spending on health care, which increased by 39 percent during the same period.

The study, released July 1 by the Pew Charitable Trusts, compared state and federal Medicaid spending across all 50 states during that period. Arizona recorded the highest growth rate in Medicaid spending, rising from $3 billion to $8 billion.

Among other notable findings of the study: Although elderly and disabled individuals comprise only 24 percent of Medicaid enrollees, they account for 64 percent of the program's spending. At 49 percent, children represent the largest group of individuals who are enrolled.

Of particular concern to physicians is the fact that payment rates for Medicaid continue to trail behind those of Medicare and other insurance programs. In 2012, Medicaid paid physicians 66 percent, on average, of what Medicare paid for the same services, down from 72 percent in 2008.

HHS Grants Aim to Bolster Disaster Preparedness

HHS announced July 1( that it had awarded more than $840 million to continue ramping up the emergency preparedness efforts of state and local public health and health care systems.

The funds are distributed through two federal preparedness programs: the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program. The fiscal year 2014 funding awards include a total of $228.5 million for HPP and $611.75 million for PHEP.

The two programs provide resources to ensure local communities can respond effectively to infectious disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and man-made disasters such as chemical, biological, or radiological nuclear events.

Specifically, HPP funding supports building sustainable community health care coalitions that collaborate on emergency planning and share resources during disasters to meet the health needs of their communities. PHEP funding is used to advance public health preparedness and response capabilities at the state and local level.

More information( about HPP and PHEP grants to individual states is available online.