A recent article by Bill Dentzer in the Idaho Statesman examined the costs and benefits of Idaho’s aging population. In the report, Mr. Dentzer points out that the 65 and older group grew by 31 percent from 2010-16, which was more than half of Idaho’s total population growth. More important than the potential economic impact that was outlined in the article is the fact that Idaho will also see a dramatic increase in the number of Alzheimer’s disease cases. According to the most recent estimates, Idaho will see a 38 percent increase in the number of cases in the next eight years; already there are enough people with AD to fill Albertsons Stadium. Moreover, the total Medicaid cost to Idaho during that same time frame is expected to increase 48 percent to a staggering $190 million, yet our state government refuses to expand Medicaid in our state, leaving millions of federal dollars on the table. A critical step to address this problem is to expand Medicaid in the next legislative session to not only help the 78,000 Idahoans currently in a coverage “gap” but also to fully prepare for the costs that Alzheimer’s will be burdening Idaho in the near future.
Troy Rohn, Ph.D., Boise