One way to reduce U.S. long-term care (spending) would be to make sure that chronically ill people who are in nursing homes get a decent level of care.
Judith Feder, a Georgetown University health policy specialist, made that case at the hearing on LTC financing that was convened last week by the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
Feder spent some time at the hearing questioning whether private long-term care insurance (LTCI) can ever be affordable enough and popular enough to do much to help the United States deal with aging of the baby boomers.
John O’Brien, the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, talked about the federal government’s own voluntary LTCI program, and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., expressed guilt about not getting around to looking closely at his own LTCI program brochure.
About 58 minutes into the hearing, Feder looked a little exasperated and suggested that, if the United States really wants to get down to the basics of controlling LTC costs, it has to do something about the quality of nursing home care and coordination of care for nursing home residents.
Feder questioned the premise that Medicare is necessarily any more wasteful or more expensive, on an apples-to-apples comparison basis, than the rest of the U.S. health care system.
“The whole system isn’t controlling health care costs,” Feder said. “If anything, Medicare is doing slightly better.”