I appreciated the timely editorial in Oct. 29 edition of The Daily Astorian, “Dementia takes costly toll on coast.” The editorial accurately discusses the challenges of rising healthcare costs for care associated with dementia-related diseases that will not be reimbursed by Medicare.

Clatsop County is fortunate to have the Clatsop Care Health District, whose sole mission is to serve the community’s long term care needs. The district receives a small tax base, approximately $500,000 a year, which assists in supplementing services to those who need care and are receiving Medicaid assistance.

The district currently operates the Clatsop Care Center, Clatsop Care Retirement Village and recently opened the Memory Care facility in Warrenton. This facility was specifically designed and built to accommodate those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia-related diseases. We are also working on the expansion of in-home care services to serve the Medicaid population in the county.

Despite the money received from taxes, the district is still greatly impacted by the legislative changes made at both the federal and the state level. In 2013, the state passed HB 2216, which targeted nursing facilities specifically, and mandated a reduction of beds across the state.

In the bill, the rural communities were held to the same reductions as the metropolitan areas, even though communities like ours only have one nursing home facility that serves a region that includes southwest Washington state. The state did not reach its target of reducing 1,500 nursing home beds by Dec. 31, which means that we will receive another significant reduction of reimbursement rates on July 1.

These reimbursement rate reductions continue to impact the services we can provide locally. It forces the district to reconsider services we offer this community in the future. Focus in long term care will be on expansion of community-based care, respite programs such as adult day care, as well as in-home care programs.

Despite all the changes being made at the federal and state level, Clatsop Care Health District is committed to continuing to serve the community’s long term care needs in the most economically prudent way possible.

Nicole Williams

CEO, Clatsop Care Health District

Astoria

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