Congress must establish a quality agenda for long term care as one of its critical next steps in making long term care affordable, Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, told Congress.
Ignagni made her comments as one of those testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on identifying solutions for the nation’s current and future LTC needs.
At the same time, Greg Jenner, executive vice president for taxes and retirement security of the American Council of Life Insurers, explained to the panel how a provision in pending pension reform legislation now being considered can help the insurance industry gain greater market penetration for products that allow consumers to pay for their LTC needs.
“Private insurance currently pays for 8% of total nursing home expenditures but 36% of overall health expenditures,” Jenner said. “There is clearly a large gap in the financing of long term care services that private insurance can fill.
“Our goal, as well as the goal of Congress, should be to find ways for the average consumer to plan for the ever-increasing need for long term care through the private sector instead of through government programs,” Jenner said.
Ignagni put it this way: “While Medicare and Medicaid already are burdened by high costs, public programs designed to meet the needs of the elderly will become increasingly strained in the years ahead. One of the crucial questions facing policymakers, therefore, is how to create an appropriate balance between public and private responsibilities–between the obligation of government to provide a safety net for those who need it and the obligation of citizens to provide for themselves to the extent they are able to do so,” Ignagni added.
In her testimony, Ignagni said a priority for Congress is to establish a “quality agenda” for LTC through systems for measuring and reporting “across the continuum of services and settings.” Other factors should include performance-based payment, taking into account consumer satisfaction, health literacy and progress in addressing disparities in LTC care.