A new report, released last week, reveals some of the bigger problems facing America’s growing need for long-term services and supports. Unfortunately, there were a few glaring unresolved problems that have already begun to affect America’s elderly. The problems are far easier to identify than the solutions.
Many Long Term Care Concerns
One of the first challenges facing the Long Term Care Commission was that Congress only provided a 90 day window to conduct hearings, investigations and then provide recommendations. It was noted early on that other regulatory boards were often given between 9 and 12 months. This means the recommendations were a bit evasive. For example, one recommended action was “Proposed non-specific improvements in the working conditions for care workers”.
As the study unfolded, we learned, “Yet, the Commission fell short in one key area. As pointed out in a report written by five dissenting commissioners, it failed to recommend a clear path to finance long term services and support (LTSS).”
The report did recommend that “particular attention” be paid to community based services so that those with fewer functional limitations and “in the least restrictive setting appropriate to their needs” be offered a Medicaid based system with “options for people who would prefer to live in the community”.
Mention was made of enhancing private financing and strengthening public support programs. Clearly, America is unprepared to pay for long term services and supports that will continue to overwhelm the current systems. With baby boomers entering retirement age, and therefore seeking medical coverage and estate planning, there are many who cannot afford not only long term care insurance, but other services required at this stage in their lives.
With the uncertainties associated with new healthcare laws, coupled with half of the states opting to not expand Medicaid coverage because their budgets cannot support higher costs, there’s no doubt we’re only just beginning to see what could be decades of problems. The fact that the commission did not “advance the discussion on this vital topic far enough” only further supports that mindset. There should have been better direction in this area that’s woefully lacking.
A National Committee Proposal
The commission did propose a national committee to continue with on this trail; however, despite support it’s receiving, it’s not likely this will unfold in any meaningful way (there are countless ongoing reports, committees, surveys, recommendation advisories, etc.). Indeed, “Although the Commission provided a template for public dialogue, it was unable to come to a consensus on the most important issues of financing and the balance between public and private roles.”
The report concludes with a final statement, “The momentum it has created should continue for this issue to be resolved so the elderly and disabled can receive long-term services and supports with dignity and financial security.” It’s not known whether additional time would have benefited those involved in the fact finding mission, but either way, the findings only further cemented public sentiment.
The intent was solid, but due to the constraints placed on the committee by Congress, it’s not likely anyone expected any considerable return on the time or budget investment made.
For those concerned about their long term health care, they’re encouraged to seek out legal representation to help cover the bases both in the short term and also to better protect their loved ones in the form of proper estate planning.