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The LTC reboot: 15 names

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The new American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) has put a stake in the heart of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act.

ATRA has also called for officials to create a new task force, the Commission on Long-Term Care, to try to come up with a bipartisan proposal for fixing the U.S. long-term care (LTC) system.

The 15-member commission is supposed to include three members appointed by the Senate majority leader, three by the Senate minority leader, three by the House speaker, three by the House minority leader, and three by the president.

Panel members are supposed to include representatives from LTC insurance (LTCI) providers as well sd members representing the interests of family caregivers, health care workers, users of LTC services, and users of LTC insurance. Some commission members are supposed to have demonstrated experience in dealing with public and private insurance.

Some commenters, including readers, have concluded that the commission is as doomed as most commissions turn out to be.

But, really: Just about everyone wants the best for older people. Everyone in government and other fields has had parents, at some point, and most of the people involved in health policy expect to get old. 

What if the commission came up with ideas that Congress could pass and a president could sign?

What kinds of commissioners could work such magic?

Here are some ideas.

Senate Republican picks

Maybe Senate leaders would want to make their commission picks big thinkers.

Rick Foster is the outgoing chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). He was the official inside the Obama administration who pointed out that the CLASS Act might be well-meaning but was not actually, um, sustainable. (Photo courtesy of CMS)

Marc Andreessen, a creator of one of the original Web browsers and a longtime venture capitalist, lists airbnb — a Web-based service that helps travelers rent ordinary people’s spare bedrooms — as one of his firm’s portfolio companies. Maybe what the country needs now is an airLTC service — a startup that would help older Americans rent the nation’s spare bedrooms on a long-term basis? (Wikipedia Commons photo/Brian Solis)

Marion Somers — known to readers as Doctor Marion —  is a geriatric care manager and has been an indefatigable promoter of the need for LTC planning and private LTCI coverage. If the other commission members acted up, she could cart them away in her famous LTC promotional bus and dump them at a rest stop in the desert somewhere. (File photo)

Senate Democratic picks

Hillary Clinton now has experience as a senator, a cabinet member, a survivor of a health reform blizzard, and someone with trouble getting a proper diagnosis of splitting headaches. (AP photo/ Louis Lanzano)

Mark Parkinson, president of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living — groups for LTC providers — is also a former Democratic governor of Kansas. He himself has been an owner and operator of LTC facilities. (Photo courtesy of the Kansas governor’s office)

Bill Gates helped put a computer on every desk. (U.S. Department of Energy photo/Quentin Kruger.)

House Republican picks

Maybe House leaders would want to make their LTC commission reps a mix of firebrands and wonks.

Ron Paul is a former Republican member of the House, a former Republican presidential candidate, and a medical doctor who has strong views about the importance of limiting government spending and government intrusions into private affairs. (AP photo/Richard Shiro)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been active in efforts to make tough decisions about LTC costs in his state, and also has been vigilant about taking a tough approach to managing state labor costs. (AP photo/Scott Bauer)


Janet Trautwein, the chief executive officer of the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), knows all about the producers’ perspective on balancing the need for thrift and the need for health care quality. (NAHU photo)

House Democratic picks

Gabrielle Giffords is a former Democratic member of the House who has had first-hand experience with spending months in the bowels of the U.S. health care system. (Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Giffords)


Dorie Seavie is the policy research director at the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) – a group that studies and supports the aides and other workers who are directly responsible for providing LTC services. (Photo courtesy of PHI)


Bonnie Burns is a longtime California health advocate and a veteran of representing consumer interests at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

President Obama’s picks

Maybe Obama would want to pick commissioners who could somehow give the LTC commission’s proposals a chance of winning the widespread public support they would need to have a chance at getting through Congress.

Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize winning economist and the patron economic saint of the nation’s liberal Democrats. Given that liberal Democrats will probably defer to his judgment on whether the proposals are worth considering, maybe he should help develop the proposals. (Photo courtesy of the New York Foreign Press Center)

Paul Volcker is a former Federal Reserve Board chairman who helped control inflation and has a keen interest in keeping LTC costs and other aging-related costs from capsizing the world economy. (AP photo/Wong Maye-E)


Penn Jillette is actually a Libertarian who supports the Cato Institute, not a Democrat, but he’s also an illusionist. He knows how to make rabbits pop out of hats and get people to see what he wants them to see, whether it’s there or not. Maybe those skills could come in handy on an LTC commission. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

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