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HUD post would make Ben Carson a nursing home loan chief

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Dr. Ben Carson is now on track to be Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, not secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But, as the head of HUD, Carson could still play a major role in shaping U.S. acute health care and long-term care policy.

Carson, a brain surgeon who taught at the Johns Hopkins medical school, has personal experience as a family caregiver: His own mother, Sonya Carson, has Alzheimer’s disease.

Related: 5 people who could talk to Trump about health policy

Trump, the president-elect, grew up in the real estate development industry, and many public health researchers now argue that real estate-related strategies, such as improving access to housing and planning communities so that residents have enough access to sidewalks, parks and grocery stories, are are critical to improving people’s health.

Related: 7 things Harvard housing researchers can tell you about older adults

Both for-profit and nonprofit organizations have been working on housing-based long-term care supply strategies, such as starting rest homes and developing reverse mortgage programs, for centuries.

People in the long-term care insurance community tend to think of long-term care risk as a financial risk and a health risk, but it’s also the risk that an individual will need a specialized kind of care.

In New York City, for example, Toledo, Ohio-based Welltower Inc. recently started building a luxury assisted living facility tower about two miles from Trump’s own Trump Tower.

HUD’s Office of Residential Care Facilities runs a major mortgage insurance program for all kinds of residential care facilities for the elderly. The office backed $2.8 billion in residential care facility mortgages during the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30, and those mortgages helped the borrowers create about 32,000 residential care units.

HUD also runs another program, the Section 202 program, that helps create housing for low-income elderly people who may need help with activities such as cleaning and shopping.         


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