The Medicare system supposedly does not cover long term care, but it does pay for many post-acute-care services for seniors that are similar to long term care, a new report says.

In 2007, LTC-type services accounted for almost a third of the $312 billion in total Medicaid spending, according to a new chart book issued by the SCAN Foundation. In addition, $350 billion in unpaid care was provided by families and other private sources, notes the foundation, which was established by SCAN Health Plan, Long Beach, Calif., a nonprofit health care program for seniors.

Health care reform efforts that address the full range of acute and LTC needs could produce pioneering financing and delivery systems that result in more efficient and better care, the report states. It was based on a study focusing on business strategy and public policy conducted by Avalere Health L.L.C., Washington, D.C., and

“We may have sufficient funding in the system now, but we are not using it efficiently,” said Bruce Chernof, president and chief executive of The SCAN Foundation. “Families, nonprofits, and state agencies are taking the lead in developing new ways to provide and pay for services, but they are hobbled by Medicare models designed to pay for acute and post-acute care and lack of integration between Medicare and Medicaid. We need flexibility based on the recognition that America’s seniors want to stay independent as long as possible.”