Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Health Beat Eulogizes the CLASS Act

The Century Foundation's Health Beat has this important post on the CLASS Act.  Some excerpts:

Where do we go from here? Long-term care remains a pressing problem without an imminent solution. As our population ages, more adults with chronic, multiple medical conditions will require care—many for years. We know it costs an average of $75,000 a year (with great variability across the nation) to house a frail elderly or disabled person in a nursing home. Yet as Gleckman points out in a newForbes column , “half of Americans have less than $55,000 in financial assets, barely enough to pay for 9 months in a nursing home, or 2 years of 4 hours of help each day from a home health aide. And hardly anyone buys private long-term care insurance—only 7 million Americans own policies.” 
Again, it all comes back to Medicaid: Elderly people who have savings pay out of pocket for private home care and nursing homes until they have nothing left and then qualify for public assistance. Some of them never receive the services they need and suffer from neglect and deprivation. Using a new scorecard developed by the AARP and the Commonwealth Fund, we have a fairly good idea of how individual states are doing in terms of meeting the needs of the growing legions of residents needing long-term care. By all accounts, even the best states are barely meeting demand, and could benefit from improvement and better coordination between the various agencies, providers and programs that serve the elderly and disabled.  
* * * 
The problem of paying for long-term care has not gone away. Anyone cheering the demise of CLASS and claiming a victory for the anti-reform (and anti-Obama) side is deluded; this issue has no “side” and we’ve merely punted it further down the road. We are all going to get old. The vast majority of us will require long-term care services in the future and most will require government or other outside help to pay for it. The silence from the right is deafening.



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