Dementia and long-term care (LTC) finance have not yet become major presidential campaign issues, but Brenda Bouchard, a caregiver, has done her best to make that happen.
Bouchard is a New Hampshire resident whose husband has early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Because New Hampshire holds the first presidential nomination primaries in the country, residents of the state have many chances to ask presidential candidates questions at in-person forums or town halls.
Bouchard went to the forums to ask the candidates about their views on Alzheimer’s disease, the burdens facing family caregivers, and the financial impact of dementia on families, Medicare and Medicaid.
Some of the candidates who are still in the race have issued proposals related to those issues. Most had some kind of involvement with LTC issues before they began running for president.
See also: LTCI Watch: Candidates
For a look at what Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have said and done that might be of interest to the LTC planning community, read on.
1. Hillary Clinton
Long before, Clinton began running for president, she led the effort to develop a major 1993 health policy bill: H.R. 3600, the Health Security Act bill.
One section of the bill would have encouraged states to provide home and community-based services to people of all ages who had disabilities.
Another section would have created a National Long-Term Care Insurance Advisory Council. The council would have been responsible for developing national standards for private LTCI benefits, premiums, sales practices, solvency, rates and rate increases.
Last year, in Exeter, N.H., when Bouchard challenged Clinton, Clinton said that her own mother had lived with her in her later years.
“She was, thankfully, in good health, but she had the beginnings of some real deterioration,” Clinton said. “So, I’m well aware of how important this is.”
Clinton said she believes the country should respond to dementia by spending more on medical research; providing more general support for family caregivers; increasing family caregivers’ access to respite care; and, possibly, by organizing a “Care Corps” that would mobilize volunteers from the community to support family caregivers.
Clinton has put a caregiver support proposal in the issues section on her campaign website.
2. Ted Cruz
When Bouchard spoke to Cruz in Portsmouth, N.H., in February, he said he had seen the ravages of Alzheimer’s affect his own family.
“My grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease,” Cruz said. “She lived with it for 10 years. It’s a tragic disease, a heart-breaking disease.”
Cruz said that his grandmother had been a school teacher with a photographic memory. In some ways, the early years — when she understood how she was slipping — were the toughest, he said.
Cruz said he thinks one answer is to invest more money in research on cures for Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
“A few dollars on the front end curing those diseases have the potential to save trillions of dollars on the back end,” Cruz said.
Another measure would be to streamline the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug approval process, to help new drugs get to market more quickly, Cruz said.
3. John Kasich
As a long-time member of Congress, and the current governor of Ohio, Kasich has been working on legislation and programs related to LTC services and long-term care insurance (LTCI) for many years.
See also: Coalition Forms To Promote LTC Awareness
In 1999, for example, Kasich was one of the five original cosponsors of a bill that would have let consumers deduct LTCI premiums from their income taxes.
When Bouchard told Kasich her story in Greenland, N.H., in July 2015, he walked into the audience and hugged her.