A report compiled jointly by public and private experts in long term care has determined that the State of Connecticut could save $900 million over the next 15 years if fewer seniors receive care in an institutional setting and are cared for at home instead.

Commissioned by the Connecticut Regional Institute for the 21st Century, the report recommends tougher budget policies to protect funds for home care, better marketing of home- and community-based programs and larger contributions by patients themselves.

BlumShapiro, an accounting and consulting firm which prepared the report, concluded that “Connecticut’s long-term care system has many positive elements and has made great strides over the last several years in providing choices and options for older adults and individuals with disabilities. Despite these gains, the system is still fundamentally out of balance.”

Last year, Connecticut spent more than half of its Medicaid funding, 13.6 percent of its entire budget, on long term care. Some $2.5 billion dollars went toward the long term care of only 40,000 patients, approximately 1 percent of the population, according to state government’s Long Term Care Advisory Council. In 2006, the state spent $32,902 per client served at home or in the community versus $74,637 per institutionalized client.

Most long term care recipients, some 200,000, receive care at home at no cost to the system from friends and family. “The importance of unpaid care provided by family and friends cannot be overemphasized as it constitutes the backbone of the long-term care system,” states the report.

In order to plan for the projected increase in seniors requiring care, Connecticut will need to encourage its Medicaid patients accept home- and community-based care or face an increase its Medicaid bill of $3.35 billion by 2025.