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Life Health > Long-Term Care Planning

LTC commission leaves 'em wanting more

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The federal Commission on Long-Term Care is getting sympathetic but weak reviews for an early version of its policy recommendations.

Congress created the 15-member, bipartisan commission earlier this year. The commission is supposed to send its recommendations to Congress in a few days and then disband.

In a preliminary set of recommendations released Friday, the commission called for a longer-lasting committee to look at LTC financing.

The commission itself is making only modest financing recommendations. It suggested, for example, the consumers should be able to use 529 plans to save for LTC costs, but it said nothing about ways to improve private long-term care insurance (LTCI).

Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), said the commission had little hope of resolving an issue as complex as LTC financing, given that Congress gave the panel so little time to develop its recommendations and that the commission has been operating in such a heated political climate.

“In terms of long-term care insurance, those who were hoping the commission might recommend a new social program must be disappointed,” Slome said. “The private marketplace will continue.”

Nancy LeaMond, an executive vice president at AARP — a nonprofit group with an arm that has been selling large amounts of private LTCI coverage — also mentioned the tight limits on the commission’s time.

AARP likes commission recommendations that call for the country to give family caregivers more support, LeaMond said.

AARP wants to continue to work to get Medicaid programs to spend more money on home care and community-based services, LeaMond said.

Howard Bedlin, a vice president at the National Council on Aging (NCOA), said any problems with the commission’s recommendations are the fault of Congress, not the commission members.

But the NCOA continues to believe that the country needs to supplement existing public and private programs with a voluntary, mostly self-funded LTCI program that is open to consumers with health problems, Bedlin said.

The NCOA does like commission recommendations to promote community-based LTC services and support family caregivers, Bedlin said.

Val Halamandaris, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), said his group likes an LTC commission recommendation to let some individuals who are not completely homebound qualify for Medicare home health benefits.

The NAHC also likes the commission’s support for the general goal of helping people stay out of institutions.

“No matter who provides the finances, eligibility or evaluation of need, our focus should be on doing everything possible to help seniors remain at home,” Halamandaris said.

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