Alternative Long-Term Care Commission Report Issued

Last week we shared information on the report issued by the federal Long-Term Care Commission. Created as part of the tax bill that avoided the “fiscal cliff” at the beginning of the year, the Commission was charged with holding hearings and issuing a report on the state of long-term care in the country.

The Commission was comprised of fifteen members of various interest groups, appointed by both Republican and Democratic leaders from D.C. It was given six month to complete its work, which was accomplished earlier this September.

Alternative Report Discusses Financing
However, as might be expected from a group made of representatives with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, not all Commission members agreed with the scope of the final report. In fact, five members of the Commission issued a separate, shorter report in which they slightly critique the final Commission draft and argue for more comprehensive recommendations as they relate to financing long-term care.

A press release announcing the alternative report was published at Medicare Advocacy, Inc. The members who contributed to this report include the President of the SEIU branch of the United Long-Term Care Workers, the Vice-President of the American Association for People with Disabilities, Vice-Chair of the National Council on Disability, among others.

So what does the report say?

The report (viewed in full online here) begins by noting that: “The authors’ vision is to create such an inclusive LTSS system for people of all ages – a system that will meet individual’s functional and cognitive support needs with quality care in the most integrated setting. We are convinced that no real improvements to the current insufficient, disjointed array of LTSS and financing can be expected without committing significant resources, instituting federal requirements, and developing social insurance financing.”

To meet that goal, the Commission members believe that a nationwide system must be created, mostly based on expansion of Medicaid and Medicare benefits–a true public, long-term care insurance program. In addition, the report calls for better training for at-home caregivers (including family members) and an integration of those caregivers into the national long-term support services.

The report includes a range of different options regarding the specifics of this public insurance program. In addition, various tax and policy changes are suggested as possible ways to increase public resources for this task–including an increase in the payroll tax.

The main critique echoing from some following the issuance of the report involves the feasibility of the recommendations. After all, legislators are currently deadlocked over potentially raising the debt ceiling. It is incredibly difficult to imagine an agreement being reached any time soon which increases taxes. That is particular true considering the current polarization regarding the public health insurance overall now being implemented (Obamacare).

All those who have a stake in the availability of nursing home care in the future and financing of quality care for seniors should take a look at this report. Whether the actual recommendations in this report ever come to fruition or not, the main challenges outlined in the document are worth understanding.

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