A recent report from AARP and two private foundations ranks Kentucky as lagging behind most states in delivering long-term services and support to people who are elderly and disabled.
The report, titled Raising Expectations: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers, ranked 50 states and the District of Columbia. Kentucky was ranked 46th.
Kentucky ranked 51st in affordability and access to long-term services and support.
In comparison to other states, Kentucky had fewer people with long-term care insurance, said Ari Houser, a spokesman for AARP at its national headquarters in Washington, D.C. Houser said Kentucky is less affordable for people who use their own money to pay for nursing homes and home health care instead of state and federal funds such as Medicaid.
AARP is a non-profit, nonpartisan membership organization helping people ages 50 and older improve their lives.
In the report, Kentucky ranked 50th in quality of life and quality of care. It also ranks low on employment of people with disabilities, life satisfaction among people with disabilities, and staffing turnover in nursing homes, Houser said.
The state ranked 43rd in choice of long-term care settings and providers, and 24th in support available for family caregivers.
"The report sets a really high challenge for Kentucky," said Jim Kimbrough, state president of AARP in Kentucky. "It tells us how far we need to go to have a stable and, I think, safe environment and certainly an affordable environment for individuals in long term care."
Jill Midkiff, a spokeswoman for the Cabinet of Health and Family Services, responded to the report on Tuesday. Midkiff said the report's rankings correlate, in many cases, directly to the states' median income and the ability of the states' citizens to afford long-term care.
"The data included in this report is somewhat dated and therefore does not reflect many of the changes in services for disabled individuals that have been implemented by this administration ...," Midkiff said. "In general the more recent the data, the better Kentucky ranks."
She said the state remained focused on providing services for people "who receive care in nursing facilities and those who choose to receive care in the community."
"The Cabinet will continue to build upon the identified strengths, while also improving the services and protections for our most vulnerable adults," Midkiff said.
The study was released by AARP's Public Policy Institute; The SCAN Foundation, a California-based charitable foundation dedicated to long-term services and support that keep seniors self-sufficient; and The Commonwealth Fund, a New York private foundation supporting independent research on health policy.
The full report is available at Longtermscorecard.org.