LTC Commission Ducks Financing Issue, While Minority Calls for New Social Insurance Program

Judy Stein  
Judith Stein  

The Commission on Long-Term Care
has issued its recommendations for reforming the way long-term care
services are funded and delivered to seniors and people with
disabilities.  Unable to agree on changes to the fragmented and frayed
system of financing long-term care, the Commission left that crucial
area largely untouched.  But five Commission members who voted against
the majority’s proposals confronted the question of financing head on,
calling for a public insurance program to cover long-term care needs.

Created as a substitute for the canceled CLASS Act in
the “fiscal cliff” budget deal, the bi-partisan Commission was charged
with voting on its recommendations by September 12, 2013, giving its 15 members
only six months to come up with a plan to establish, implement, and
finance a comprehensive set of long-term care services for seniors and
people with disabilities. Nine of the 15 Commissioners voted in favor of a package of recommendations to be submitted to Congress. The
Commission’s package will be included in its Final Report on long-term
services and supports to be published by September 30. 

The Commission's recommendations are grouped into three areas:
service delivery, workforce and finance.  On the question of how to
finance long-term care services, the Commission’s summary of
recommendations presents two alternative approaches without taking a
position on which one it prefers: strengthening long-term care financing
through private options for financial protection, or achieving this
objective through a social insurance program.

The Commission’s majority was, however, able to agree that Medicare’s
three-day hospital stay requirement for skilled nursing facility
coverage should be eliminated and that Medicare should reconsider its
“homebound” requirement for receiving home health services.

The group’s final report also will call for the creation of a
national advisory committee to continue its work and ask the President
to address these issues through a White House conference on aging.
Congress is not required to vote on the Commission’s recommendations.

Minority Says Social Insurance Is Only Solution

Five members of the Commission who voted against the majority’s recommendations declared in a separate statement that
a public social insurance program must be at the core of any truly
comprehensive system. The five Commissioners — Judith Stein, Founder
and Executive Director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc.; Henry
Claypool, executive vice president of the American Association of People
with Disabilities; Laphonza Butler, President of SEIU-ULTCW; Lynnae
Ruttledge of the National Council on Disability (NCD) ; and Judy Feder,
an Urban Institute Fellow and Professor, Georgetown Public Policy
Institute – were not joined in their call for a new public program by a sixth dissenting Commissioner, Christopher Jacobs of the Heritage Foundation

   
   

“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,” said Stein.
“The people I represent are crying out for a real LTSS system now.”

“The need for extensive and expensive long-term
services is a catastrophic risk for people both under and over age 65. 
Today, neither private insurance nor public programs protects us against
that risk.  Private insurance has demonstrated it can't, by itself, do
the job,” added Feder. “A public program has to be the bedrock on which
we build an effective LTSS financing system.”

The five Commissioners said that such a social
insurance program could provide either comprehensive benefits or a more
limited package, and it “would not eliminate the roles of private
insurance or of family financing or caregiving. Rather it would make
them more manageable.” The Commission was created after Congress
canceled an attempt at just such an insurance program, the Class Act.  

The minority group of Commissioners also issued
recommendations regarding compensation and training for direct-care
workers and addressing the needs of family caregivers.

For links to the Commission’s summary of recommendations, Call to Action and press release announcing its vote, click here.

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