Alzheimer’s patients and Arizona Medicaid

By October 18, 2010Uncategorized

Over 25 years ago, future Nobel laureate, Dr. Paul Greengard first became interested in Alzheimer’s when his father-in-law was diagnosed with the disease.  After decades of research and experimentation, Dr. Greengard has made serious headway in the battle against the devastating disease.  Some in the medical community even believe that Dr. Greengard’s research will eventually lead to a cure for Alzheimer’s, although we are not quite there as of yet.

A recent story in the New York Times touted Dr. Greengard’s Alzheimer’s research; and optimistically explained that the doctor’s findings take us one step closer to a society without Alzheimer’s disease.  While Dr. Greengard’s findings are still early in the experimental stages, he believes to have found a way to isolate a protein in the brain that produces the plaque responsible for Alzheimer’s.  The idea is that by blocking this protein, it is possible to slow or even cure the disease.  And, when tested in laboratory mice, this is precisely what occurred.

This is indeed exciting news, and hopefully Dr. Greengard’s research will prove as effective with human subjects as it did with mice.  But what about those of us with friends or family who are presently affected by Alzheimer’s disease?  Alzheimer’s can progress quite rapidly, and it can take quite a toll on patients and family members alike.  While most of us are unable to actively battle the disease to the extent that Dr. Greengard has, there is much we can do at an individual level to ensure that our family member with Alzheimer’s is properly cared for.

Unfortunately, it is nearly inevitable that Alzheimer’s patients will require long-term health care.  As the disease progresses, it simply becomes too difficult for family members to shoulder the weight of providing all of the care themselves.  As such, those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s should really begin planning for long-term health care as early as possible.  And, considering that care in a skilled nursing facility costs on average $6,000 per month in Arizona, a big part of this planning involves making sure that there is money in place to provide for such care.

ALTCS is a branch of Arizona’s Medicaid system that provides long-term care coverage to those who are eligible.  As a needs-based program, ALTCS/Medicaid is only available to individuals who meet medical and financial eligibility tests.  Most times, passing the medical requirements is not a problem for Alzheimer’s patients; but passing the financial requirements may require some planning and foresight.  Fortunately, however, ALTCS applicants can take a proactive stance by arranging their affairs in such a way to qualify for ALTCS in the shortest time as possible.

Speaking with an ALTCS planning attorney is a great place to start for ALTCS applicants.  While it may be possible for some to qualify for the ALTCS benefit with little or no preparation, others may require a detailed plan to ensure they begin receiving the coverage they require.  Either way, once approved for the benefit, ALTCS members may receive full coverage for the cost of their long-term health care.