Advocating for the Aging
The Wisconsin Campaign for Better Care is an offshoot of a national effort led by a coalition of nonprofit groups. The Wisconsin version is one of the most ambitious and is being undertaken with CWAG and Nino Amato in the lead.
The Wisconsin campaign is kicking off this fall with the formation of the Blue Ribbon Citizen Task Force for Patient Centered Care and public hearings in cities throughout Wisconsin. The campaign calls for better coordinated and continuing care among doctors and health care providers, especially for vulnerable older adults with multiple chronic conditions. Amato says this is part of the health care picture that was not examined during the national health care reform debate, and the part that will continue to cause unneeded suffering for many patients and higher costs for everyone. Amato hopes to build a movement of older adults and their families as activists for better care.
CWAG cites a host of national studies showing the urgency for reforms:
> The average adult aged 55–64 with at least one chronic condition spent $7,377 on health care in 2006, compared to $4,951 for younger persons.
> People with serious chronic conditions use a variety of methods to finance their health care, including savings (38 percent), government aid (36 percent), borrowing or receiving money from a family member or friend (27 percent) and/or taking money from a retirement fund (16 percent).
> In 2007, family members caring for someone age 50 or older reported spending an average of $5,531 out of their own pockets to help with the loved one’s medical care.
> One in three caregivers used their savings (34 percent) or cut back on basic home maintenance (32 percent), and nearly one in four caregivers (23 percent) cut back on spending for their own health or dental care to help with the expenses associated with caring for their relative or friend.
More information about the national Campaign for Better Care and CWAG’s efforts is available on the Campaign for Better Care section of the National Partnerships website, nationalpartnership.org, and CWAG’s website, cwag.org.