When President Obama signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) into law, he officially killed the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) voluntary long-term care (LTC) benefits program.
He also created a new parlor game: Pick the 15 people that you think will, or should, be on a new Commission on Long-Term Care that’s supposed to come up with a new proposal for fixing the U.S. LTC system.
On the Web, I tried to come up with 15 picks of my own, based on the assumption that commission members would generally not be current members of Congress.
My initial ideas:
Senate Republican picks
Rick Foster, the outgoing chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) – the Obama administration official who announced that he did not think the CLASS program would work.
Marc Andreessen, a creator of one of the original Web browsers and a longtime venture capitalist. His firm is one of the backers of airbnb—a Web-based service that helps travelers rent ordinary people’s spare bedrooms. Why not rent people’s spare bedrooms for LTC purposes as well as pleasure travel purposes?
Marion Somers, aka “ Doctor Marion.” A geriatric care manager who drives a Greyhound bus around the country to promote the need for LTC planning.
Senate Democratic picks
Mark Parkinson, president of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living—groups for LTC providers; a former Democratic governor of Kansas; and an owner and operator of LTC facilities.
House Republican picks
Ron Paul. (Aside from being a Libertarian, he’s a medical doctor.)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. He would probably not be a pushover on LTC worker labor relations issues.
Janet Trautwein, the chief executive officer of the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU).
House Democratic picks
Gabrielle Giffords, the former House member who was shot and has spent years in rehabilitation.
Dorie Seavie, 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.
Bonnie Burns , a longtime California health advocate and a veteran of representing consumer interests at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
President Obama’s picks
Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winning economist who thinks the U.S. government should borrow more and spend more.
Penn Jillette, a Libertarian illusionist. Maybe he could make the other commission members see the illusion of common ground, even though they don’t come to the table thinking it’s there.
Of course, that initial list includes no state insurance regulators. What about Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger? She seems to be open to understanding the insurance industry’s concerns but also speaks up when she thinks insurers could serve consumers better.
Readers then sent in their own ideas. A sampling:
Claude Thau , a long-term care insurance (LTCI) actuary and consultant in Overland Park, Kan., who has been in charge of LTCI at Transamerica Occidental Life Insurance Company.
Stephen Moses, the co-founder of the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, a private think tank dedicated to preventing states from using Medicaid to pay for LTC services for people who aren’t actually poor.
Tom Riekse, managing principal at LTCI Partners, who’s active in NAILBA and LTCI carrier advisory boards.
The American Academy of Actuaries put out a plea that the commission include a trained actuary, so that any recommendations that the commission just might, possibly, be actuarially plausible.
On the one hand, this is, as I said, a parlor game.
On the other hand, maybe playing this game is a way for people with an interest in LTC finance to organize their thoughts about what kind of positive future is possible.
On the third hand: Why try to think about the future? The folks in Washington will be happy to take care of that for us.