Washington’s Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) provides a comprehensive array of information, resources and services to unpaid family caregivers caring for adults with functional disabilities. One objective of this program is to delay or avoid placement of the care recipient in long-term care. To expand the program to serve more caregivers, the 2011 Legislature increased funding for the FCSP by $3.45 million for fiscal year 2012. The additional funding was based on assumed savings associated with delayed or avoided placements into more costly Medicaid-paid long-term care (LTC). The legislature also directed the Institute to assess whether the expansion of this program delayed or reduced entry of care recipients into LTC and thereby reduced LTC costs.
The short legislative timeline for this study precluded a comprehensive evaluation. Nonetheless, based on the limited data available, we report two preliminary results. First, we observed a significant delay in the use of LTC by those served during the expansion. Second, we estimate that the maximum savings possible from the expansion would have been $1.67 million in the first year. Since $3.45 million was budgeted for the FCSP expansion, it appears unlikely that the expansion would have been cost neutral, at least in the first year, as assumed in the budget.
We recommend that a longer term evaluation of the expansion be conducted to determine if benefits match cost over an extended period.