By Cyril Tuohy
Three months after the federal Commission on Long-Term Care opened hearings on long-term care reform, the bipartisan panel will release its final report to Congress Sept. 18 on how best to improve the delivery of long-term care services.
The 15-member commission voted in favor of the final recommendations in the report, with five of the nine Democratic appointees voting against the commission’s final recommendations. Congress isn’t required to consider the recommendations.
“I hope both the bipartisan nature of this report and the suite of ideas garnering broad agreement dispels the myth that our nation’s long-term care crisis is just too hard a problem to tackle,” said Bruce A. Chernof, chairman of the 15-member commission and president and chief executive officer of the SCAN Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated making sure the elderly age with dignity and independence.
Recommendations include streamlining the delivery of long-term care services, making it easier for family members to support loved ones in need of long-term care, improving pay as well as career opportunities for long-term care professionals, and strengthening the financing mechanisms through public and private options.
The commission will also recommend that Congress create a national advisory committee to continue looking for ways to improve the nation’s broken and fractured long-term care system, and that long-term care be added to the agenda of the White House Conference on Aging.
“I believe these improvements will enhance the system’s efficiency,” said commission chairman Mark Warshawsky.
Commissioners were divided over ways to finance the nation’s long-term care health system. In addition to improvements to Medicaid and Medicare, the panel recommended strengthening financing of long-term care through private insurance or through “social insurance.”
“With midterm elections on the horizon followed by a new presidential campaign, it will be interesting to see if there is any traction or support for further action,” said Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, which represents private long-term care insurers.
Private insurers will continue to have a place in offering long-term care and rising interest rates are, for the time being at least, going to make it easier for long-term care insurance carriers to offer insurance coverage, Slome said.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. He can be reached at [email protected].
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