A plan proposed by Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) aims to reduce state health care spending by allowing elderly residents to receive care in their own homes rather than moving to a nursing home, the AP/Knoxville News-Sentinel reports. Bredesen said the proposal would simplify the process for how elderly residents or those with disabilities find out whether they qualify for home-based care. He said, "At its core, this is about keeping people in their homes as long as they want to remain in their homes," adding, "This is a fundamental restructuring. It's about quality; it's about offering choices; it's about simplifying the system."

Officials estimate that the plan could direct about half of the $1.2 billion TennCare spends on long-term care to home-based care over the next 10 years. TennCare is the state's Medicaid program. About 98% of TennCare spending on long-term care goes to nursing home facilities. According to TennCare Director Darin Gordon, on average, it costs about $12,000 per person for one year of home- or community-based care, compared with between $45,000 and $60,000 for nursing home care.

Gordon said that there is no reliable way to predict how many people would choose home-based care over care in nursing homes but that, based on the experience of other states, half of TennCare's long-term care beneficiaries could be receiving home-based care in six to 10 years (Schelzig, AP/Knoxville News-Sentinel, 3/7).

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