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The Center for LTC Reform is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality long-term care for all Americans by promoting public policy that targets scarce public resources to the neediest, while encouraging people who are young, healthy and affluent enough, to take responsibility for themselves.   We do this through...


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CASSANDRA’S QUANDARY: The Future of Long-Term Care in New Hampshire

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READ STEVE'S BIO

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Updated, Friday, February 24, 2017, 10:52 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET: THE LTC WARS (SHAWSKY)

LTC Comment: The self-styled conservative LTC Commission co-chair has declared war on government-financed long-term care proposing private sector solutions that mirror our own. Details follow.
 

LTC BULLET: THE LTC WARS (SHAWSKY)

LTC Comment: Mark Warshawsky co-chaired (with Bruce Chernoff of SCAN) the underfunded, short-lived and ultimately hapless Long-Term Care Commission, which was supposed to autopsy CLASS and replace it with something better. He has launched two ICBMs in a new assault on the latest government LTC financing takeover proposal.

We reported on the first missile last week in this “LTC Clipping”:

2/15/2017, “The Urban Institute Model of Financing Long-Term Services and Supports: A Critical Review,” by Mark Warshawsky, Health Affairs Blog

Quote: “Scoring in the LTSS area needs to be based on widely accepted facts (i.e., a fair reading of the literature and/or settled empirical findings), completely transparent (with all major assumptions disclosed and justified), and robust (to consider all types of policy interventions). Scoring should also be alternatively illustrated by conservative results and assumptions, to give a sense of the possible range of outcomes. Unfortunately, despite the great apparent effort of the Urban Institute, their model, as presently constituted, cannot serve this purpose.”

LTC Comment: This is a devastating refutation of the data and reasoning employed by advocates of a new, compulsory, payroll-financed government LTC program. See our earlier critique of the same work in “LTC Bullet: LTC at a Crossroads,” Friday, June 3, 2016.

If the theoretical and evidentiary underpinnings supporting a new government LTC program are defective, what would be a better intellectual foundation for a different, more market-based approach? That’s what Warshawsky offers in missile #2, “Improving the System of Financing Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Americans,” a working paper authored with Ross Marchand for their employer, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

That paper was the subject of last Wednesday’s Long-Term Care Discussion Group meeting. You can retrieve Warshawsky’s slides for that presentation as well as the paper itself here. The LTC Discussion Group dubs itself “an informal non-partisan networking group of long term care (LTC) policy stakeholders.” You can participate in most of their meetings by phone. It’s a great way to stay abreast of all matters related to LTC financing and service delivery. I’ve addressed the group eight times over the years and follow them closely from afar nowadays.

Back to The LTC Wars (shawsky). What follows are excerpts from Mark J. Warshawsky and Ross A. Marchand, “Improving the System of Financing Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Americans,” Mercatus working paper, Mercatus Center, George Mason University, Washington, DC, January 2017. We’ll comment on each excerpt.

Improving LTSS: Abstract: Medicaid currently pays for most of the long-term services and supports (LTSS) given to older Americans. With the aging of the population, these costs to state and federal governments will increase rapidly. We summarize the current Medicaid eligibility rules, which are commonly portrayed as allowing access only to low-income and low-asset populations, but in reality they allow covered households to own significant housing and retirement assets. Furthermore, we present new empirical information about the weak efforts of states in enforcing even the current porous rules. We then report on the extensive asset holdings, especially in housing and retirement assets, across the distribution of retired households. We find that liberal eligibility rules and uneven enforcement increase the costs of governments and discourage the retired households that can afford it from covering LTSS exposure through private insurance and assets. We conclude with targeted recommendations to reform Medicaid and improve the LTSS financing system, following up on some of the proposals made by members of the 2013 federal Commission on Long-Term Care.” (p. 2)

LTC Comment: Hear, hear! If you follow LTC Bullets and our many state and federal level reports, this should sound very familiar. Let’s look now at the details.

Improving LTSS: “Data are from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS 2012), the gold standard of data on the finances of older households, which is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and is conducted by the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.” (p. 3)

LTC Comment: Here we part company slightly. HRS and AHEAD, its companion survey focused on the oldest old, provide very dubious data on which to base conclusions about long-term care spending as we explained in “LTC Bullet: Behind AHEAD,” Friday, September 2, 2016. The HRS/AHEAD data are unreliable because respondents who provide them have conflicts of interest which invite deception and/or non-reporting. Besides, most assets covered in those surveys are exempt for Medicaid eligibility purposes, especially home equity and personal retirement accounts.

Improving LTSS: “In particular, the commission did not assess the extent of state efforts to recover assets (housing and other assets) from the estates of Medicaid recipients of LTSS. It did not estimate the asset holdings of older Americans from which financing of LTSS could be found. It also did not look carefully into the variability in state rules regarding the exclusion of retirement assets, such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k) accounts, from assets that count for Medicaid eligibility—the ‘millionaires on Medicaid’ problem.” (p. 8)

LTC Comment: Right on! That was the LTC Commission’s biggest single failing. What does this new paper tell us regarding how Medicaid overlooks assets that could fund LTC privately?

Improving LTSS: “As we will see, despite its reputation, Medicaid for LTSS is not just a program for the poor.” (p. 8)

LTC Comment: Hallelujah. It’s so good to hear someone else state the obvious truth almost uniformly evaded in most of the LTC financing literature.

Improving LTSS: “But some people become eligible for Medicaid because of their spending on LTSS: They ‘spend down’ to Medicaid eligibility by spending nearly all their income and some of their assets on services. Because nearly all income must be spent before Medicaid begins to pay, rules protect some income and assets for community-resident spouses. In addition, some assets are excluded, thus enabling a Medicaid recipient to retain assets of substantial value. For example, the value of the family home is protected during the lifetime of the Medicaid recipient and spouse.” (p. 9)

LTC Comment: Medicaid LTC eligibility rules require most income to be spent down either on health or LTC services. But the rules do not require assets to be spent down on care. It seems a minor point, but it is very important because much, not to say most, of the peer-reviewed literature gets it wrong, saying people must spend down assets for care services. The only actual requirement is that assets spent or divested must receive fair market value. So there is no restriction whatsoever on purchasing exempt assets, including a home, car, prepaid burials, etc., as a means to spend down to Medicaid eligibility.

Improving LTSS: “Medicaid allows the recipient to exclude from countable assets the value of the primary residence—up to $536,000 (indexed) in 2013, although states can allow up to $802,000 (indexed) in 2013—as well as a car, personal and household items, burial funds, term life insurance, and some or all qualified retirement assets in most states.” (p. 9)

LTC Comment: This quote is imprecise. Medicaid does not exclude home values, but rather home equity. A home worth $1 million would be exempt if the owner had a $.5 million mortgage on it. Also, why cite 2013 home equity exemption levels? The latest exemption, effective January 1, 2017, varies from $560,000 to $840,000 depending on the state.

Improving LTSS: “Despite varied efforts by the states to recover resources from estates of deceased Medicaid beneficiaries since Medicaid’s creation in 1965, there are no systematic data sources on these collections over the subsequent five-decade period. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published state-by-state estimates of estate collections for fiscal years 1985 and 1993, but these data preceded the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1993, which required states to attempt to recover resources from estates.” (p. 12)

LTC Comment: Actually, the USDHHS IG published a comprehensive report in 1988 titled “Medicaid Estate Recoveries” of which I was the author. Based on that study, we projected that if every state in the country collected from estates at the same rate as Oregon, which had the most successful estate recovery program at the time, total annual recoveries could have been $589.2 million instead of the 1985 actual recoveries of $41.7 million. Most of the recommendations in that report, including longer and stronger transfer of assets restrictions and mandatory estate recoveries, became federal law with the passage of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993.

Improving LTSS: “Had all states met these [Idaho] ‘best efforts’ rates, which were in the range of 1 percent to 4 percent (hardly strenuous), nearly $20 billion more—$24 billion instead of $4.4 billion—could have been recovered for governments nationally from estates of deceased Medicaid LTSS beneficiaries in the 2002–2011 period.” (pps. 21-22)

LTC Comment: We certainly agree having said the same thing over two years ago in “LTC Bullet: IG Report Reveals Medicaid Estate Recovery Weakness,” Friday, December 5, 2014. To wit:

Nevertheless, actual and potential dollar recoveries are nothing to sneeze at: For example, what if every state in the country recovered at the same rate as the most successful state, Idaho? Total recoveries would have been $2,845,253,843 instead of $497,905,382 based on percentage of nursing home expenditures recovered and $2,941,856,963 instead of $497,905,382 based on percentage of total LTC costs recovered. That’s nearly $2.5 billion [per year] in money now allowed to pass unencumbered to heirs. Those lost funds have the effect of converting Medicaid from a long-term care safety net program for the needy to free inheritance insurance for prosperous baby boomers.

Improving LTSS: “Because a plurality of states counts both the applicant’s retirement assets and the spouse’s assets, and other states count at least some of the retirement assets of the relevant populations, the resulting weighted average is more than half (71.3 percent). However, stated another way, almost one-third of retirement assets are not counted toward Medicaid eligibility despite the policy intent that these tax-qualified assets be used not for bequest but for all types of spending in retirement. Moreover, most states have exemptions that allow seniors with access to well-funded retirement accounts to exclude said assets.” (p. 27) Consequently: ‘Vermont seniors with sizeable retirement assets can qualify for LTSS Medicaid at the expense of New Hampshire seniors a few miles away, who are barred from having those same retirement assets if they enroll in Medicaid.’” (p. 28)

LTC Comment: Because of the transition from mostly “defined benefit” to mostly “defined contribution” retirement savings plans, aging Americans now have trillions of dollars set aside in tax-deferred retirement accounts. The intent of Congress is clear that such assets “are uncounted as long as the [Medicaid] AR [applicant recipient] is receiving periodic interest and principal payments,” as we reported in “Medi-Cal Long-Term Care: Safety Net or Hammock?” (p. 21) based on Social Security Administration, POMS, “SI 01120.210 Retirement Funds,” https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0501120210. In other words, SSI regulations do not allow counting tax-sheltered retirement assets as long as those assets are being tapped periodically, as tax law requires beginning by age 70 and ½. Warshawsky and Marchand make an important contribution to the literature on this topic by reporting how different states treat these assets differently, resulting in their conclusion that overall more than two-thirds of these retirement assets are counted toward Medicaid eligibility.

Warshawsky has publicly expressed befuddlement at this outcome. How can different states interpret and enforce the law so differently causing inequities like the Vermont/New Hampshire example the paper cites. I can answer that question based on my experience three decades ago as a Medicaid State Representative for the Health Care Financing Administration (CMS’s predecessor). The reality is that state Medicaid programs flout federal law and regulations frequently and with impunity. Often federal Regional Offices do not hold states to the letter or even the spirit of the law. CMS did not enforce the OBRA ’93 estate recovery requirement on states. The main takeaway here is that although this paper concludes that 71.3 percent of retirement assets are counted toward determining Medicaid LTC eligibility, the federal law and regulations actually exclude nearly 100 percent and that is a condition that needs to be corrected if Medicaid is to maximize benefits for the poor and stop crowding out personal responsibility and long-term care planning among the affluent.

Improving LTSS: “To advocates of the federal provision of social insurance for LTSS, the current Medicaid program is inadequate. Furthermore, these advocates claim that failures in private insurance provision, coupled with the lack of retirement savings, make market solutions for the provision of LTSS untenable. As we have seen, such claims are not supported by the data.” (p. 35)

LTC Comment: Yes, thank you, exactly what we’ve been saying for so long.

Improving LTSS: “[E]mpirical evidence on the net worth of retired households clearly indicates widespread and significant holdings of housing and retirement assets. Those holdings are in precisely the asset classes that Medicaid rules and state administrations either always or sometimes exempt from consideration in determining eligibility (Warshawsky and Zohrabyan 2016). Lax eligibility criteria and administration, and weak estate recovery procedures and efforts, have led middle- and upper-income older Americans to seek Medicaid enrollment.” (p. 35)

LTC Comment: Yes again.

Improving LTSS: “To ensure that the Medicaid resources are allocated to individuals with insufficient financial means to pay for their long-term care, eligibility rules regarding retirement assets must be tightened across the country.” (p. 36)

LTC Comment: Of course.

Improving LTSS: “Additionally, the federal government should require states to narrow the ‘primary residence’ exclusion in examining applicants. . . . As we have seen in one study, older Americans vary home ownership depending on the rigidity of Medicaid policies. New federal rules requiring states to reject applicants with home equity interest exceeding $100,000 would diminish this strategic behavior and would ensure that program enrollees are those with legitimate financial need.” (p. 37)

LTC Comment: We’ve recommended an even lower home equity exemption of $50,000. Ironically, the current U.S.A. home equity exemption of up to $860,000 far exceeds the comparable exemption of 23,500 British pounds (approximately $29,500) in the UK’s socialized health care system. What’s more, the Brits limit their exemption to all assets, not just home equity. So much for the idea that ours is an evil, dog-eat-dog, force ‘em-into-impoverishment system.

Improving LTSS: “Preventing Medicaid funds from being distributed to households with significant assets also requires a more robust estate recovery scheme. Despite the growth in recovery programs over the past 15 years, recoveries represent a negligible percentage of both LTSS expenditures and the estimated net worth of program enrollees. With the best efforts of the most vigorous state, almost six times the current estate recoveries could be collected in aggregate by states.” (p. 37)

LTC Comment: Absolutely, we make the same point and elaborate on how to achieve it in “Maximizing NonTax Revenue from MaineCare Estate Recoveries” (2013); “Medicaid Estate Recoveries in Maine: Planning to Increase Non-Tax Revenue and Program Fairness” (1993); Medicaid Estate Recoveries: National Program Inspection (1988); The Medicaid Estate Recoveries Study--Volume I: Estate Recoveries in the Medicaid Program (1985) and in these LTC Bullets: LTC Bullet: Medicaid Estate Recovery, Wednesday November 8, 2000; LTC Bullet: Medicaid Estate Recoveries Clarified by HCFA, Wednesday March 7, 2001; LTC Bullet: The Critical Role of Medicaid Estate Recoveries, Friday, September 30, 2005; LTC Bullet: Medicaid Estate Recover. . .up, Thursday, July 5, 2007; LTC Bullet: How Estate Recovery Protects the Poor AND the Affluent, Wednesday, July 1, 2009; LTC Bullet: How Medicaid LTC Sprung a Leak, Monday, September 14, 2009; LTC Bullet: Center Tackles Medicaid Estate Recoveries, Friday, April 26, 2013; LTC Bullet: The Role of Estate Recoveries in LTC Financing, Friday, June 7, 2013; LTC Bullet: Free LTC Loan With No Pay Back Required, Friday, August 22, 2014; LTC Bullet: Holding CMS’s Feet to the Fire, Friday, February 6, 2015; LTC Bullet: Real ID vs. Estate Recoveries: A Decade of Divergence, Friday, February 26, 2016.

Improving LTSS: “Specifically, the federal government should enforce the existing requirement on states to automatically impose liens on the housing properties of beneficiaries. Imposing these liens in all cases would significantly improve recovery rates. (pps. 37-38)

LTC Comment: This is incorrect. There should be a mandatory lien on real property of Medicaid LTC recipients, but there is none. States may impose liens, but many do not.  According to Medicaid.gov: “States may impose liens for Medicaid benefits incorrectly paid pursuant to a court judgment. States may also impose liens on real property during the lifetime of a Medicaid enrollee who is permanently institutionalized, except when one of the following individuals resides in the home: the spouse, child under age 21, blind or disabled child of any age, or sibling who has an equity interest in the home. The states must remove the lien when the Medicaid enrollee is discharged from the facility and returns home.” (“Estate Recovery and Liens” at https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/eligibility/estate-recovery/index.html)

Improving LTSS: “As a penalty for state noncompliance with the housing lien procedures and to counteract the weak state incentives to collect, the federal government should decrease Medicaid matching rates for LTSS expenditures for states performing inadequately.” (p. 38)

LTC Comment: With the correction that estate recovery, not imposition of a lien, is the federal requirement, states definitely should be penalized for failure to conduct estate recovery effectively and efficiently. This should have been done all along and does not require Congressional action to lower federal financial participation for deficient states. Federal Medicaid Regional Offices have financial auditors whose job it is to evaluate whether state Medicaid programs are complying with federal law and regulations and to lodge claims for reimbursement of federal funds in cases of non-compliance. The fact that states like Texas, Michigan, Georgia and New Mexico failed to implement estate recoveries for many years after such programs were mandated by OBRA ’93 is the result of CMS’s Regional and Central Offices’ failure to enforce the law.

Improving LTSS: “Data show that even at the median of the older population, substantial assets exist to pay for retirement expenses, including LTSS. With updated eligibility-determination rules and processes, systematic asset tracking, and enhanced estate recovery programs, the Medicaid LTSS program can achieve financial sustainability and simultaneously reduce the crowding out of private alternatives such as LTCI. Federal mandates requiring states to undertake these reforms can result in substantial future savings for taxpayers while strengthening a key part of the social safety net for those who truly need it.” (p. 39)

LTC Comment: Bottom line: we don’t need a new compulsory social insurance program for long-term care. What we need to is give Medicaid back to the needy and incentivize everyone else, with carrots and sticks, to plan early and save, invest or insure for long-term care.

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Updated, Monday, February 21, 2017, 11:19 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #17-007:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Dementia Joins Ranks of Top Global Killers with No Drug in Sight

  • Plan ahead, protect assets from nursing home costs

  • The New Offensive on Alzheimer’s Disease: Stop it Before it Starts

  • Report: Average annual cost of skilled nursing care breaks $100,000 for first time

  • The Biggest Wild Card In Retirement And How To Deal With It

  • The Urban Institute Model Of Financing Long-Term Services And Supports: A Critical Review

  • 5 Long-Term Care Planning Lessons From 'Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory'

  • Top Ways to Protect Your Assets from Nursing Home Costs

  • GAO: CMS needs better data to prevent HCBS overpayments, fraud

  • 5 biggest tax breaks for the self-employed

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, February 17, 2017, 9:57 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET: HOW TO MAKE MEDICAID BLOCK GRANTS WORK FOR TAXPAYERS, LTC PROVIDERS, AND THE NEEDY

LTC Comment: The new administration has proposed block-granting Medicaid, but dissenters claim it would hurt the poor, especially the elderly. How to make it work better for everyone, after the ***news.***

*** TODAY'S LTC BULLET is sponsored by Claude Thau, a GA whose proprietary tools help advisors find and educate clients, reducing the “Ping-Pong” in the LTCi sales process. Help clients project their exposure to LTC risk, compare Combo vs. Stand-Alone LTCi easily, and make informed final decisions about buying LTCi in 15-20 minutes!  Change work-site LTCi sales from a series of proposal deliveries to a single interactive consultation!  Claude is the lead author of the Milliman Broker World LTCi Survey, one of Senior Market Advisor's 10 "Power People" in LTCi in 2007, & a past Chair of the Center for Long-Term Care Financing. Contact Claude at 800-999-3026, x2241 or claudet@targetins.com to ask questions or get references. ***

*** THE 17th ANNUAL ILTCI CONFERENCE, with the theme “Navigating the Future,” will convene March 26-29, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency in Jacksonville, Florida. Organizers report continuance of the ILTCI Future Leaders Program, which “is intended to give promising early-to-mid level management and other non-management professionals with leadership potential the opportunity to participate in a half-day pre-conference seminar and networking function at a significant discount from the standard ILTCI registration rate.” For more information, contact info@iltciconf.org. To the same email address, they invite you to “send us questions related to any area of Underwriting, Claims and Sales; the interaction between the areas and how the current and changing State of the Union of LTC has impacted these areas.” Your questions will be answered by a panel of experts at the conference. ***

*** WARSHAWSKY ON THE WARPATH: Mark Warshawsky, who co-chaired the 2013 “Long-Term Care Commission,” has authored a devastating critique of the research used to justify the latest plan for a new government long-term care entitlement. In “The Urban Institute Model of Financing Long-Term Services and Supports: A Critical Review,” he demolishes the intellectual foundations behind the growing consensus that what America needs now is a compulsory, payroll-financed, centrally planned government program to cover the back end long-term care risk. That plan, endorsed by the LTC provider association LeadingAge, the Bipartisan Policy Center, and the ad hoc Long-Term Care Financing Collaborative, was based on research reported in a 2015 Health Affairs article titled Financing Long-Term Services and Supports: Options Reflect Trade- Offs for Older Americans and Federal Spending,” by Melissa M. Favreault, Howard Gleckman, and Richard W. Johnson. Our own critique of that research was published in LTC Bullet: LTC at a Crossroads” on Friday, June 3, 2016. ***

***  LTC CLIPPING SERVICE:  Do you spend a lot, maybe too much time scanning the media to keep up with professional news?  Have we got a deal for you?  Leave that to us.  We’ll find, summarize, highlight and link any news story, report, study or journal article you really need to know and understand.  We’ll email you a quick and concise notice like the one below.  And we’ll field your questions if you need more information.  It’s like having a world-class consultant at your fingertips.  How can you get in on this opportunity?  Contact Damon for details at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  He’ll have you in the loop before you can say “the check is in the mail.”

2/16/2017, “Report: Average annual cost of skilled nursing care breaks $100,000 for first time,” by Emily Mongan, McKnight's Long-Term Care News

Quote: “The average national cost for both private and semi-private skilled nursing facility rooms has jumped again, with the average price of a private room reaching $102,900, according to a new report. Lincoln Financial Group's annual ‘What Care Costs’ study, released Wednesday, shows the national average private skilled nursing room cost jumped 3.3% in 2016, up from $99,600 in 2015. Semi-private room costs reached an average of $89,305, up 2.6% from $87,000 in 2015.

“The Lincoln report also includes a forecast of what the long-term care landscape could look like in 2050, 'when the population of individuals 65+ years of age will have doubled and long-term care services are in even greater demand.’ A semi-private room in a nursing home is expected to reach $206,590 by then.”

LTC Comment: Refer to article to access the full report. ***

 

LTC BULLET: HOW TO MAKE MEDICAID BLOCK GRANTS WORK FOR TAXPAYERS, LTC PROVIDERS, AND THE NEEDY

LTC Comment: Debates over block-granting Medicaid are nothing new. After Newt Gingrich and the Republicans swept into power in 1994, the block grant idea was all the rage. Opposition then as now focused on the consequences of ending the unlimited federal financial support of the rapidly growing entitlement program. Could states shoulder the extra fiscal burden? Would they? How would the poor fare? Especially the elderly poor? Oh my, we could be leaping out of the burgeoning-budget frying pan into the fire of social distress.

Back then, I thought “bunk.” If we cap federal spending on Medicaid, radically reduce federal strings attached to the money, and let 50 states experiment with creative ways to handle eligibility, service delivery, and reimbursement, the result will be better access to higher quality care for rich and poor alike. How and why, you might ask. Well, I laid that answer out in detail, including a model state statute in 1995. Circumstances have changed in the meantime, but not enough to derail the basic plan.

Check it out. I presented the following paper at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council in San Diego on August 10, 1995. It was later published in “The Long-Term Care Financing Crisis: Danger or Opportunity? A Case Study in Maryland.”

Long-Term Care Financing Under a Medicaid Block Grant
Notes Toward a Model State Statute

by
Stephen A. Moses

 

I.          Introduction

            Medicaid is known as the "pac-man" of state budgets and the "800-pound gorilla" of long-term care. We all know something has to be done to control this fiscally hemorrhaging giant.

            On the positive side, if Medicaid block grants pass this year, states will have the authority for the first time to implement the proper corrective actions. That is a tremendous incentive to prepare now to meet the risks and opportunities that lie immediately ahead.

            The big questions public policy makers face are what to do and how to do it. We cannot plot a course of corrective action until we understand completely the mess we are in and how we got into it. The purpose of this paper is to explain the problem, show how it developed and propose a solution.

            Medicaid nursing home expenditures nearly doubled between Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 1988 and FFY 1993. Today, Medicaid pays for 73.7 percent of all nursing home patient days in the United States. At least 85 to 90 percent of all nursing home payments come from Medicaid, Social Security benefits contributed by Medicaid patients toward their cost of care, Medicare, or private patient income (not assets). Dozens of recent empirical studies indicate that Medicaid "spenddown" is much lower than previously believed. In fact, there is no evidence whatsoever of the much-touted, widespread catastrophic spenddown.

            Although Medicaid is ostensibly a means-tested public assistance program, i.e. welfare, evidence abounds that middle-class Americans and even the well-to-do qualify easily for the program's nursing home benefits. Congressional actions (in OBRA '93) to close Medicaid eligibility loopholes and mandate estate recovery have had little effect because of unforeseen weaknesses in the law, sluggish implementation by the states, lukewarm enforcement by the Health Care Financing Administration, and creative end-running by public and private Medicaid estate planning attorneys.

            Finally, Medicaid has developed a dismal reputation for problems of access, quality, reimbursement, discrimination, institutional bias, and welfare stigma. How did America come to provide for the long-term care needs of its proud, self-reliant World War II generation by consigning them to a welfare program that is going bankrupt?

 

II.        Background

            In 1965, America was just starting to have a problem with long-term care. People were living longer, but dying slower of chronic illnesses that caused frailty and cognitive impairment. That was when a prosperous private market in low-cost home and community-based services and long-term care insurance might have developed in the United States. It did not.

            Instead, with every good intention, the new Medicaid program offered publicly financed nursing home care. This subsidy confronted families with a very difficult choice. They could pay out-of-pocket for the home care and assisted living services seniors prefer or they could accept nursing home care paid for by the government. Most people chose the safety and financial benefits of the Medicaid option. Therefore, the market for home care withered, private long-term care insurance expired stillborn, and Medicaid-financed nursing home care flourished.

            The nursing home industry took full advantage of this situation. As fast as the industry could build them, nursing home beds filled with Medicaid residents. Stunned by the cost, Medicaid attempted to control the construction of new beds with Certificate of Need (CON) programs on the principle that "we cannot pay for a bed that does not exist." By the mid-1970's, health planning for nursing homes was in full swing.

            Capping supply, however, only spurred the nursing home industry to drive up rates. Government costs grew faster than ever. So Medicaid capped reimbursement rates too. This compelled the nursing home industry to increase private pay reimbursement rates to compensate. So began the highly problematical differential between Medicaid rates and private pay rates. Today, Medicaid pays only 80 percent of private pay rates on average nationally.

            Higher private rates made Medicaid more attractive to private payers and this led to pressure on legislators to liberalize Medicaid eligibility. A long process of eligibility bracket creep gradually made Medicaid nursing home benefits available even to upper middle class people who had or could obtain the expertise to manipulate eligibility rules. A whole sub-practice of law--Medicaid estate planning--developed to take advantage of this new opportunity.

            With the supply and price of nursing home beds capped by government fiat and with Medicaid eligibility increasingly generous, nursing home occupancy skyrocketed to 95 percent nationally. Nursing home operators realized they could fill their beds easily with low-paying Medicaid patients no matter what kind of care they offered. To achieve adequate operating margins, however, nursing homes had to attract a sufficient supply of full-paying private patients or they had to cut costs drastically.

            If they tried to attract more lucrative private payers with preferred treatment, however, the nursing homes were deemed guilty of discrimination against Medicaid patients. If they tried to cut costs instead, they came under fire for technical violations or quality problems. In response, Congress and state governments pressured the industry to provide higher quality care without discriminating against low-paying Medicaid recipients. Given its fiscal duress, however, Medicaid could not offer higher reimbursement rates to achieve these goals.

            Caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, the nursing home industry put up a strong fight. Armed with the Boren Amendment, a law that requires Medicaid to provide reimbursement adequate to operate an efficient nursing facility, many state nursing home associations took the battle to court.  By now, however, state and federal Medicaid expenditures were rising so fast and taxpayers were so reluctant to pay for growing public spending that large increases in nursing home reimbursement were out of the question.

            In the meantime, a wave of academic speculation in the late 1970's indicated that paying for home and community-based services (HCBS) instead of nursing home care could save a lot of money. For years, therefore, Medicaid experimented with HCBS waivers as a cost-saving measure. In time, however, hard empirical research showed that (desirable as they may be) home and community-based services do not save money overall. Today, institutional bias remains Medicaid's strongest cost containment tool and one of its gravest deficiencies.

            In a nutshell, just as heavy demand was building for a private seniors housing market in the 1960's, Medicaid co-opted the trend by providing easy access to subsidized nursing home care. Confronted with a choice between paying out-of-pocket for a lower level of care or receiving a higher level of care at much less expense, seniors and their families made the predictable economic choice. Not surprisingly, Medicaid nursing home caseloads and expenditures increased rapidly and drastically. In response, Medicaid capped bed supply and reimbursement rates, which led inevitably to excessively high occupancy, private-pay rate inflation, discrimination against low-paying Medicaid patients, and increasingly serious quality problems.  In time, Medicaid nursing home care acquired its reputation for impeded access, doubtful quality, inadequate reimbursement, widespread discrimination, pervasive institutional bias, and excessive cost. Medicaid remains, however, the only way the middle class can pay for long-term care without spending their savings. That is why so many otherwise independent and responsible Americans end up dying in nursing homes on welfare.

 

III.       The Challenge

            If the foregoing analysis of the Medicaid malaise is accurate, a sensible solution comes easily into focus. To facilitate universal access to top quality long-term care for all Americans, a new, cost-effective, block-granted, publicly financed, long-term care program should have the following characteristics.

            ·       It should save taxpayers money while improving access to quality long-term care for all citizens;

            ·       It should encourage, instead of discouraging, private financing of home and community-based services and assisted living;

            ·       It should encourage, instead of discouraging, the purchase of private long-term care insurance to pay for all levels of extended care;

            ·       It should combine generous eligibility criteria to protect the unprotected with strong incentives for everyone to plan ahead for self-protection;

            ·       It should pay market-based reimbursement rates to assure access to quality care for all participants and to eliminate discrimination;

            ·       It should promote strong market competition between providers of all levels of care;

            ·       It should maximize the number of consumers in the marketplace who have a pecuniary interest in getting the best possible care at the lowest possible price.

Is a single program that combines all these features possible? Yes, but only if it is based on a common understanding and agreement as to its goals and objectives. In the course of numerous research studies over the past 12 years, I have found almost universal consensus on the following ethical foundation.

 

IV.       The Moral High Ground

            We have very limited dollars available for public assistance. We must take care of the truly poor and disadvantaged first. The middle class and well-to-do should pay privately for long-term care to the extent they are able without suffering financial devastation. Prosperous people who rely on public assistance for long-term care should reimburse the taxpayers before giving away their wealth to heirs. Seniors and their heirs who wish to avoid such recovery from the estate should plan ahead, purchase private long-term care insurance, and pay privately for the care of their choice when the time comes.

            What would a publicly financed long-term care program based on this philosophical underpinning look like?

 

V.        Model State Statute for a Senior Financial Security Program (SFSP)

(Rough draft state statutory language is presented below in highlighted italics.) The following are the key components of the program.

            A.        Preserve generous eligibility

                        1. Status Quo

                        Despite the conventional wisdom that seniors must spend down their life savings to receive Medicaid nursing home benefits, the truth is that most seniors qualify easily regardless of income or assets.

                        Most state Medicaid programs place no limit on how much income someone can have and still qualify for nursing home benefits. If your total medical costs, including nursing home care, approximate or exceed your income, you are eligible.

                        The well-known $2,000 limit on assets is meaningless. Medicaid recipients can also keep exempt assets of unlimited value, such as a home [later capped at $500,000 to $750,000 in equity with annual increases for inflation], a business, and a car. Married folks have it even easier than single people. They can shelter an additional $74,820 in assets and $1,870.50 per month in income. [These amounts also increased annually with inflation.]

                        For the truly well-to-do, even these generous limits are easily overcome. Any competent Medicaid planner can deliver Medicaid eligibility almost overnight to practically anyone for less than the cost of one month in a private nursing home.

                        Given Medicaid's generous nursing home eligibility criteria, there is little wonder why most Americans (1) fail to plan ahead for long-term care risk, (2) neglect to purchase private long-term care insurance, (3) hesitate to spend their own money on home care or assisted living, and (4) end up in nursing homes subsidized by Medicaid.

                        2. Senior Financial Security Program

                        Drastically cutting Medicaid nursing home eligibility and coverage for the middle class is not politically feasible. Strong senior interest groups would fight such cuts aggressively and both private and legal services attorneys would tie such a system in knots of litigation. Fortunately, it is not necessary to burn the village in order to save it. The Senior Financial Security Program preserves Medicaid's generous eligibility and coverage. This is the program's biggest political selling point.

                        3. Model State Statute

                        "Seniors who need nursing home care may qualify for the Senior Financial Security Program if their income is inadequate to pay for such care and if their assets do not exceed $2,000 plus certain exempt resources enumerated below.

                        "To qualify for assistance, however, every participant must provide a net worth statement confirmed by a certified public accountant. This net worth statement constitutes security offered by program participants to assure repayment of benefits received. As the participant receives benefits, the cost to the SFSP will be deducted from the participant's net worth ledger. As long as the ledger has a positive balance, the program participant is in receipt of a government-sponsored loan. When the ledger's balance turns negative, the participant converts to 'public assistance.'

                        "Exempt assets that SFSP participants may retain are similar to those permitted by the traditional Medicaid program with a few additional limitations.

                        "Home: no limit on value for one single-family residence, however, expensive homes purchased (or additions constructed) within eight years of applying for benefits will be treated as a transfer of assets to qualify (see transfer of assets restrictions below).

                        "Automobile: one car of any value provided it is actually used for the benefit of the program participant. Transfer of an automobile, even though exempt, will be deemed a transfer of assets subject to penalty. Program participants may not give away exempt assets and replace them with new exempt assets as a means to qualify for assistance or avoid estate recovery.

                        "Funeral plan: one prepaid funeral plan, not to exceed the average cost in the state of a simple service and disposal of remains (perhaps $2,500). Program participants may not shelter tens of thousands of dollars in burial plans as a means to qualify for assistance.

                        "Other exempt resources and limitations to be delineated."

            B. Prohibit divestiture

                        1. Status Quo

                        Under the existing Medicaid program, anyone who transfers assets three years [increased to five years in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005] before applying for assistance can give away any amount of money and qualify with no questions asked. Unfortunately, the average period of time from onset to death in Alzheimer's Disease is eight years. If the family transfers her assets the first time Grandma forgets to turn off the stove, they guarantee her unlimited Medicaid nursing home benefits three years later with no expense or inconvenience.

                        Today, many Medicaid estate planning attorneys advise their clients and colleagues to initiate a "gifting strategy" years in advance in order to assure easy Medicaid eligibility. Such a strategy may include many tactics including outright gifts, establishment of trusts, retention of life estates, purchase of a partial interest in adult children's homes, and conversion of non-exempt into exempt assets. The options are limited only by the imagination of the Medicaid planner.

                        2. Senior Financial Security Program

                        The SFSP cannot protect generous eligibility and survive without eliminating divestiture planning altogether. Seniors and their heirs must get the message very clearly that long-term care is an enormous financial risk, that people should save and insure throughout their lives to protect against this risk, and that giving away assets for any reason at a time when the long-term care risk is at its peak is a very dangerous proposition.

                        Of course, by birthright, any American is free to dispose of his assets in any way he wishes and at any time. One must no longer be allowed, however, to give away one's wealth in order to compel other Americans to provide oneself with expensive long-term care benefits.

                        Adult children, other relatives, friends and charities to whom older people give away income or assets must realize that if such a gift leaves seniors unable to pay for their own care and dependent on the public dole, that the state will seek restitution.

                        3. Model State Statute

                        "Any assets transferred for less than fair market value within eight years of applying for assistance constitute a debt owing the state (up to the total public benefits paid) and such debt is payable by the transferees who received the assets and/or by the estate of the program participant or by such persons who may have received the assets by means other than a formal probated estate. Any asset transferred in contemplation of qualifying for the SFSP or of avoiding estate recovery shall be considered a fraudulent conveyance.

                        "A transfer of assets is any divestiture of purchasing power including but not limited to gifts, purchase of exempt assets, divorce, purchase of unsalable or undividable property, divestment into trusts, converting assets into joint tenancy, etc.

                        "The intent of this provision is to assure that no purchasing power possessed within eight years of application by anyone who later depends on the SFSP shall be used for any other purpose than the care and maintenance of the owner or reimbursement to the SFSP for providing such care and maintenance.

                        "If any purchasing power shall have been taken from an SFSP participant improperly or illegally, the program shall petition the appropriate court to appoint a private attorney as the participant's conservator (reimbursed on contingency) to recoup the misappropriated assets on behalf of the participant and the program. Such recoupment may include relitigating abusive divorce decrees, reversing improper asset transfers, invading inappropriate trusts, and partitioning undivided property."

            C. Require legal security as a condition of eligibility

                        1. Status Quo

                        Exempt assets divested legally or illegally while on Medicaid are lost forever as a source of long-term care financing for seniors. Nor can such divested resources serve as a non-tax revenue source to the program. Under the existing Medicaid program, states are permitted--but not required--to place liens on the homes of recipients under certain highly restrictive circumstances. Very few states use the lien authority to secure assets for later recovery. Even states that utilize liens have limited success enforcing and collecting on them because of extensive exclusions in the federal law. Consequently, exempt and non-exempt assets held openly or concealed by Medicaid recipients routinely disappear during the period of eligibility either legally or illegally as relatives, friends and others take advantage of the senior's incapacity to relieve them of their resources.

                        2. Senior Financial Security Program

                        No competent financial institution will extend a loan of hundreds of thousands of dollars to anyone without requiring security. The government can no longer afford to do so either. People who expect to depend on the SFSP while preserving substantial income and assets for the support of their dependents must realize and agree that they lose some measure of control over these resources in the process.

                        Of course, all citizens have the option to use their income and assets as they see fit. For example, they can sell their homes and cars to pay privately for long-term care if they choose. But if they prefer to use a public program to pay for their care, they must recognize the obligation to encumber their resources for later recovery, after the resources are no longer needed by their legitimate surviving dependents.

                        3. Model State Statute

                        "As a condition of eligibility for the SFSP, all participants must allow the state to place a lien on their exempt property. The lien shall apply to all real and personal property retained by the participant with the exception of the $2,000 liquid asset exclusion and certain highly private personal property such as original wedding rings.

                        "Such liens shall be officially recorded in the appropriate legal manner and shall be enforceable upon sale of the asset or upon the death of a program participant, or if the participant is survived by a legitimate dependent, upon the death of the last surviving exempt dependent relative (to be defined).

                        "Nothing in this statute shall be construed in any way to prohibit or prevent an SFSP participant from disposing of his property in any way he sees fit. The sole purpose is to assure that his creditor, i.e. the state in the form of the SFSP, knows of the transaction, can recover benefits paid as appropriate, and can terminate eligibility if appropriate."

            D.        Require estate recoveries

                        1. Status Quo

                        For most of the history of the existing Medicaid program, nursing home recipients could preserve unlimited exempt assets in the form of homes, cars and personal property and pass this wealth to their heirs completely unencumbered. It was not until the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA '82) that Congress gave state Medicaid programs the authority to recover from recipient's estates. It was not until the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 that Congress required estate recoveries. Consequently, few states have so far implemented strong, cost-effective estate recovery programs.

                        2. Senior Financial Security Program

                        As long as Americans can ignore the risk of long-term care, avoid the premiums for private insurance, wait to see if they ever need to go to a nursing home, and if so, get the government to pay while still passing all their wealth to heirs, most people will not pay for their own care and public costs will continue to explode. Extensive research indicates that states can save five percent or more of the cost of their nursing home programs by recovering benefits paid from the estates of deceased recipients. The potential liability of estate recovery provides a huge incentive for future generations to insure privately or pay for less expensive, lower levels of care in the private marketplace in order to avoid or postpone exorbitant nursing home costs. By requiring and strictly enforcing estate recovery, the SFSP assures that those participants, who are able, pay their own way thus preserving their dignity it is not welfare if you pay it back.

                        3. Model State Statute

                        "Every participant in the Senior Financial Security Program must agree in writing to pay back the entire cost of care from his or her estate or from the proceeds of sale of real or personal property during program eligibility up to the total value of the estate or sale. If the program participant should predecease a spouse or other legitimate, dependent heir or joint tenant, the participant's share of any jointly owned property or purchasing power shall be recovered from such third party as soon as it is no longer needed for the maintenance of the dependent, and in any case, no later than upon the death of the dependent third party.

                        "It is expressly understood that the term 'estate' is not limited to the formal probated estate, but includes all purchasing power held by the program participant within eight years of applying for the SFSP in whatever form it passes to another before or after program participation and later death.

                        "The intent of this rule is to assure that people pay for their own long-term care, either directly by retaining providers in the private marketplace or indirectly by reimbursing the Senior Financial Security Program. The financial viability of the SFSP and its ability to provide care to less fortunate participants depends on strong estate recovery enforcement."

            E.         Encourage home and community-based services and long-term care insurance

                        1. Status Quo

                        As explained in the background section of this paper, Medicaid extinguished the private markets for home and community-based services (HCBS) and long-term care insurance when it began providing subsidized nursing home care in 1965. Later efforts to retrofit HCBS and encourage private insurance, i.e., Medicaid waivers and public/private partnerships respectively, have proven to be too little too late. With all its resources sucked into the black hole of institutional long-term care, state Medicaid programs have been unable to fund the HCBS waivers adequately. With regard to long-term care insurance: people do not buy apples on one side of the street when they can get them for free on the other.

                        2. Senior Financial Security Program

                        By prohibiting divestiture of assets to qualify, by requiring liens on all property as a condition of eligibility, and by mandating recovery from estates of every program participant who retains exempt assets, the SFSP creates an enormous incentive for future generations to plan ahead, buy insurance, pay privately for home care or assisted living, and avoid as long as possible starting the meter running for publicly financed nursing home care. Nevertheless, the SFSP should make this goal explicit in the program's statutory language.

                        3. Model State Statute

                        "The purpose of the Senior Financial Security Program is to protect those who are unable to take care of themselves. The program does not replace any individuals' responsibility to provide for their own long-term care. Program requirements that prohibit divestiture of assets, require security for benefits paid, and mandate recovery from estates are expressly intended to encourage all citizens to plan ahead, purchase quality long-term care insurance, pay privately for appropriate, cost-effective levels of care, and rely on the Senior Financial Security Program only as a last resort."

            F.         Educate the public

                        1. Status Quo

                        The main reason that Medicaid nursing home costs have grown explosively for 30 years is that the program desensitized the public to the risk and cost of long-term care. Most people today do not know who pays for long-term care. Medicare, Medicaid or Santa Claus--why should it matter? All the public knows for sure is that someone must pay, because they hear few genuine anecdotes of catastrophic spenddown and they rarely see Alzheimer's patients wandering the streets with nowhere to go and no one to take care of them. Until Americans understand and internalize the risk of long-term care, they will not plan ahead to protect themselves against it and they will continue to end up in nursing homes on Medicaid.

                        Extensive research over the past 12 years suggests that Medicaid nursing home expenditures could be reduced by as much as 15 to 20 percent by persuading the public to pay privately for long-term care either out-of-pocket or by means of insurance coverage.

                        2. Senior Financial Security Program

                        The big challenge to public policy is to provide a long-term care safety net that protects the frail and vulnerable without discouraging the hale and able from planning ahead to take care of themselves. The SFSP achieves this objective by building a downside risk into reliance on public financing of long-term care, i.e. the lien and estate recovery liability, and by aggressively promulgating information about the probability, cost, and personal responsibility of long-term care. To assure that this critical feature of the program is not neglected, the SFSP model statute expressly incorporates a non-tax revenue source to support it.

                        3. Model State Statute

                        "Ten percent (or such proportion as shall be necessary to achieve the objective) of the revenue generated by Senior Financial Security Program's lien and estate recovery efforts shall be used exclusively to support a public education initiative on long-term care. The purpose of this initiative is to educate the public, the medical profession, the bar, the judiciary, financial advisors, and all other individuals in the community who influence the lives of older people, concerning the importance of long-term care planning. Such education and training will include but not be limited to (1) the probability of requiring long-term care, (2) the average incidence, duration and cost of nursing home care, (3) the principles of how to identify and select a reliable long-term care insurance policy, (4) the kinds of free and fee-for-service assistance available to postpone institutionalization (e.g., meals on wheels, chore services, adult day care, congregate care, assisted living, etc.), and (5) the eligibility, lien and estate recovery requirements associated with dependency on the Senior Financial Security Program.

                        "The purpose of this education program is to assure that no one in the state turns 50 years of age without having received complete information on long-term care risk and on all of the private options available to plan for it."

VI.      Conclusion

           Fully implemented and aggressively enforced, the Senior Financial Security Program will empower any state to assure universal access to top quality long-term care for rich and poor citizens alike across the entire continuum from home and community-based services to sub-acute nursing home care while simultaneously saving the taxpayers money and enhancing the private market for all long-term care providers and insurers.

           The goal of the program should be to provide eligibility and coverage equal to or better than conventional Medicaid nursing home benefits at no more than 80 percent of the former cost. In 1993 dollars, this constitutes a savings to taxpayers of approximately $5 billion per year nationally.

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Updated, Monday, February 13, 2017, 9:43 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #17-006:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • EXCLUSIVE: New York medical marijuana grower eyes nursing homes as new market

  • Long Term Care Insurance Industry Paid $8.65 Billion in Claims

  • New Federal Rules Will Require Home Health Agencies To Do Much More For Patients

  • GAO recommends increased CMS oversight of Medicaid LTSS payment rates

  • Put long-term care within reach

  • Opinion: We can change Medicare without hurting Americans — the answer lies in this plan

  • House panel marks up Medicaid planning annuity bill

  • 42% of those 55+ worry about housing affordability daily: survey

  • Senators call for more Alzheimer's funding

  • Medicaid oversight stalled by inaccurate, incomplete data, report finds

  • Finding and keeping caregivers: A growing crisis

  • How Would Republican Plans for Medicaid Block Grants Actually Work?

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, February 10, 2017, 10:38 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET: CLASS REDUX?

LTC Comment: Washington State legislators propose another LTC fantasy plan. Will they never learn? Details after the ***news.***

*** CLTC AND ILTCI COOPERATION: According to an announcement by CLTC [Certified in Long-Term Care]: “CLTC and ILTCI [Intercompany Long-Term Care Insurance Conference] are working together to help enhance the knowledge and raise awareness of the importance of long term care insurance and the various options available to deal with the risks posed by long term care needs. As part of this effort, ILTCI is offering a Producer scholarship program for CLTC graduates to attend the organization's annual conference March 26-29 in Jacksonville, FL. CLTC graduates are invited to participate in the Producer Scholarship program which reduces the cost of the individual conference registration fee to $295 (from $995).”

Likewise: “This year, Bill Comfort will conduct a CLTC Master Class on Saturday, March 25 (8AM to 6PM) and Sunday, March 26 (8AM to 5PM). The 2-day course will review all the course material and prepare attendees to take the CLTC exam. There is no additional charge for the course material, exam fee or CE filing. Attendees that pass the CLTC exam will receive their CLTC designation upon passing the exam. The course will qualify each attendee for 8-15 hours of state insurance department CE credits (depending upon student's resident state) as well as for CFP/PACE credits (a $25 additional filing fee applies for recording CFP/PACE credits, if desired). Regular full price tuition for the course is $1,165. However, the ILTCI Conference will be subsidizing the course fee for any attendees of the ILTCI Conference, for an additional fee of only $199. Registration for the CLTC course can be completed when registering for the conference.” ***

 

LTC BULLET: CLASS REDUX?

LTC Comment: Laurie Jinkins and Norm Johnson are state legislators representing Tacoma and Yakima, Washington respectively. They have a plan to fix long-term care financing. Here’s how they described it in a Seattle Times column last Tuesday.

Our legislation would create a long-term care insurance benefit to help seniors and their families pay for long-term services and support while protecting seniors’ retirement savings and assets. Funds from a 0.49 percent assessment deducted from workers’ pay would fund the trust and be disbursed through a program overseen by a public-private commission. Workers would be eligible to draw on the benefits of the trust after they’ve worked three of the past six years, or 10 years total.

Sound familiar? Haven’t we been to this party before and awakened with a bad hangover? When legislators and bureaucrats set out to do what even highly trained actuaries in the private sector have found perplexingly difficult, don’t get your hopes up. Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of their plan. Find the Long-Term Care Trust Act here: HB 1636. We’ll quote from it and comment.

HB 1636 Quote: “The legislature finds that: Long-term care is not covered by medicare or other health insurance plans, and private long-term care insurance plans that do exist are unaffordable for most people; this leaves more than ninety percent of seniors uninsured for long-term care.”

LTC Comment: Hmmm, evidently no one told them about Medicaid, the biggest payer of long-term care in Washington State and everywhere else. Easy access to Medicaid LTC benefits after the insurable event has already occurred crowded out demand for private LTC insurance resulting in the challenges that product faces today.

HB 1636 Quote: “Without access to insurance, seniors must rely on family care and spend down their life savings to poverty levels in order to access long-term care through medicaid.”

LTC Comment: Oh, they know about Medicaid after all. But they don’t know much. In Washington State, median to high-income people can qualify for Medicaid if they have significant medical or LTC expenditures as most people who need long-term care do. Most assets are exempt, such as home equity up to $560,000, plus unlimited personal belongings, home furnishings, prepaid burial plans, one car, one business, IRAs if they’re paying out and on and on. People who still own too much can find a Medicaid planner here and get a Medicaid-compliant annuity, employ the “reverse half a loaf” strategy, or just buy a lot of exempt assets. I wrote about the “Fallacy of Impoverishment” in the Gerontologist 27 years ago and, despite some successful efforts in the meantime to curtail Medicaid planning abuses on the margin, the reality remains that most people can ignore LTC risk, avoid LTCI premiums, wait to see if they ever need extended care and pass the cost to taxpayers while retaining most of their assets for heirs.

HB 1636 Quote: “The long-term services and supports trust commission is established. The commission shall include: (a) One member from each of the two largest caucuses of the house of representatives, appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives; (b) One member from each of the two largest caucuses of the senate, appoint [sic] by the president of the senate; (c) The commissioner of the department, or his or her designee; (d) The secretary of the department of social and health services, or his or her designee; (e) Two representatives of long-term services and supports providers, one of which is a representative of a union representing long-term care workers; (f) Two representatives of an organization representing retired persons; and (g) Two representatives of consumers receiving long-term services and supports.”

LTC Comment: Thus, the commission responsible to “establish rules and policies regarding” enrollee eligibility, provider qualifications, benefit payments, assessment standards and procedures, operational standards, annual benefit adjustments, and solvency and financial status reports . . . lacks representation by the one group of experts who actually know how to set up and run a successful long-term care insurance program. To wit, the thousands of long-term care policy experts, actuaries, claims adjudicators, and case managers who make private LTC insurance work all across the country. They succeed somehow in spite of public policies that severely impede their efforts. Shame on any public official who ignores their expertise and their contributions to solving the LTC financing crisis.

HB 1636 Quote: “The department shall deem an individual to be a qualified enrollee under the program if the individual: (a) Is at least eighteen years old; (b) Is a Washington resident; (c) Has paid the long-term services and supports assessment established under section 9 of this act for the equivalent of either: (i) A total of ten years without an interruption of five or more consecutive years; or (ii) Three years within a six-year period.”

LTC Comment: Lucky Washingtonians. This program captures every, hard-working resident of the state and grants them the privilege of contributing even more of their meager and vulnerable incomes to fund yet another long-shot government gamble.

HB 1636 Quote: “A qualified enrollee may become an eligible beneficiary if he or she: (a) Is not eligible for long-term services and supports under medicare; and (b) Has been assessed by a health care provider who is in the registry and has determined that the qualified enrollee requires assistance with at least three activities of daily living.”

LTC Comment: Medicare does not cover long-term care, but Medicaid does. Why the omission? Can someone qualify for this program and Medicaid simultaneously? Three ADLs to qualify? Most private LTC insurance requires only two.

HB 1636 Quote: “An eligible beneficiary may not receive more than three hundred sixty-five services days of benefits over the course of the eligible beneficiary's lifetime.”

LTC Comment: Technically, anything over 90 days qualifies as long-term care, but 365 days is a pretty pathetic benefit period.

HB 1636 Quote: “A qualified enrollee's status in the program shall lapse if he or she ceases to be a resident of Washington for a period of at least five consecutive years without paying the long-term services and supports assessment under section 94 of this act. . . . An individual whose qualified enrollee status has lapsed under subsection (1) of this section may restore his or her qualified enrollee status upon resuming residence in Washington and making payment of the long-term services and supports assessment established under section 9 of this act for the equivalent of either: (a) A total of ten years without an interruption of five or more consecutive years; or (b) Three years within a six-year period.”

LTC Comment: Good luck keeping track of all that. This bill should be renamed the “Washington Bureaucrats Guaranteed Employment Act.”

HB 1636 Quote: “Each employer shall deduct from each employee's salary the equivalent of 0.49 percent of the employee's total compensation. The amounts shall be submitted to the department on a timeline determined by the department. The employer shall accompany the amounts with such information as the department determines is necessary to administer the program.”

LTC Comment: LTCI expert Scott Olsen is reported to have said: "Call this what it really is: a tax on the poor and the working class to get them to pay for care that they currently get for free under Medicaid!" 

HB 1636 Quote: “The department shall deposit all funds received from employers under subsection (1) of this section into the account created in section 10 of this act. . . . The long-term services and supports trust account is created in the state treasury. All receipts from employers under section 9 of this act must be deposited in the account. Moneys in the account may be spent only after appropriation. Expenditures from the account may be used for the administrative activities and payment of benefits associated with the program.”

LTC Comment: Sounds like another “trust fund” in the mode of those for Social Security and Medicare that include nothing but IOUs for moneys the U.S. government has already spent. And what does this mean: “Expenditures from the account may be used for the administrative activities and payment of benefits associated with the program.” What else can they be used for? This looks like a state slush fund modeled after those that rob Social Security and Medicare to enable excess federal deficit spending.

Well, other than that, this sounds like a great plan. Good luck with it, Washington. Thankfully, I’ve already made my escape to Texas.

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Updated, Monday, February 6, 2017, 9:43 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #17-005:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Making Sense Of Tough Long-Term Care Choices

  • Could Congress Boost Medicaid Long-Term Care Benefits For Some By Curbing Spousal Annuities?

  • U.S. proposes 0.25 percent hike in Medicare Advantage payments

  • An action plan to fund long-term care

  • The surprising link between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease

  • House bill could change how Medicaid treats annuities

  • ACA Medicaid funding rules stink, witness says

  • Agent Review January Newsletter

  • Obama administration's report could help GOP justify Medicaid cuts

  • Who uses social media the most? Not millennials

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, February 3, 2017, 10:19 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  MEDICAID PLANNING IN THE BULL’S-EYE

LTC Comment:  The new Congress wasted no time confronting three egregious Medicaid eligibility loopholes.  Details after the ***news.***

*** THE 17th ANNUAL ILTCI CONFERENCE, with the theme “Navigating the Future,” will convene March 26-29, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency in Jacksonville, Florida.  Organizers report “We have only two booths left for the ILTCI Conference coming up in March, one 10x10 booth and one 6x10 booth. Exhibit booths also come with 2 free admissions and a list of other benefits. We have first timer and non-profit discounts, and a variety of sponsorship options. See the Exhibitor App button … for more details. … If you have any questions or need assistance with registration or exhibit/sponsor selections please contact Christi Trimble at 856-308-0611 or christi@iltciconf.org.” We hope to see you there! ***

*** HIS MILLION-DOLLAR MOM book and movie project gains momentum.  Watch LTCI producer and Center friend Ross Schriftman’s TV interview for inspiration and motivation regarding Alzheimer’s care and funding. ***

*** LTC CLIPPING SERVICE:  Do you spend a lot, maybe too much time scanning the media to keep up with professional news?  Have we got a deal for you?  Leave that to us.  We’ll find, summarize, highlight and link any news story, report, study or journal article you really need to know and understand.  We’ll email you a quick and concise notice like the one below.  And we’ll field your questions if you need more information.  It’s like having a world-class consultant at your fingertips.  How can you get in on this opportunity?  Contact Damon for details at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  He’ll have you in the loop before you can say “the check is in the mail.” 

2/1/2017, “Could Congress Boost Medicaid Long-Term Care Benefits For Some By Curbing Spousal Annuities?,” by Howard Gleckman, Forbes

Quote:  “Is Medicaid’s long-term care benefit a zero-sum game where limited resources are shifted from one beneficiary to another? For instance, could the government significantly increase long-term care benefits for some by barring people from using spousal annuities to qualify for Medicaid?  Or should resources be expanded to provide all eligible seniors and younger people with disabilities the care they need?”

LTC Comment:  Is Medicaid a zero sum game?  Pretty much.  It’s already crowding out other programs in state budgets.  Should we expand resources to cover everyone?  Well, sure, there’s plenty of extra revenue out there just waiting to be spent.  This author defends expending Medicaid’s scarce resources on ineligible people, lottery winners, and wealthy annuitants.  He’s also pushing for a new, compulsory, payroll-financed government long-term care program.  They say the difference between a neurotic and a psychotic is that one builds castles in the sky while the other lives in them.  Your call. ***

 

LTC BULLET:  MEDICAID PLANNING IN THE BULL’S-EYE

LTC Comment:  Most people think of Medicaid as a means-tested public assistance program.  In a word, welfare.  But as LTC Bullets readers know, it’s not that simple.  Individuals with substantial incomes and assets can and do qualify easily for Medicaid’s most expensive long-term care benefits if and when they need care.  We’ve published 143 Bullets about the practice of “Medicaid planning,” AKA artificial self-impoverishment to qualify for benefits, here.

Easy access to Medicaid after care is needed has serious consequences for the long-term care service delivery and financing system.  It desensitizes the public to LTC risk and cost.  It discourages early and responsible planning for future care needs.  It impedes the market for home care by making nursing facility care virtually free.  It crowds out the market for private long-term care insurance.  It overloads Medicaid with too many non-needy recipients.  It benefits the affluent while diverting resources from the poor.  It bloats Medicaid costs and consumes resources that might otherwise go for education, roads, and other state financial priorities.

So what has the federal government done about this problem?  Not much in the last decade.  The Bush 43 Administration gave us the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which capped Medicaid’s home equity exemption, extended the transfer of assets look-back to five full years, and discouraged the then-commonplace “half-a-loaf” divestment strategy.  From 2009 to 2017, the Obama Administration did virtually nothing to protect Medicaid long-term care benefits for the needy.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama left many routine and several outrageous eligibility loopholes unaddressed.

But last November’s political upheaval has changed the outlook for legislation to curtail Medicaid benefits abuse.  The Trump Administration and House Speaker Paul Ryan are talking about a “Better Way” to do health care financing, including Medicaid.  Block granting the program, capping federal costs, and giving states more flexibility to experiment with creative eligibility and service delivery options are all under serious consideration.  But so are some specific measures to curtail some of the worst Medicaid planning abuses.

On Wednesday, February 1, 2017, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health convened a hearing titled “Strengthening Medicaid and Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable.”  Check out the witnesses’ statements, text of new legislation under consideration and watch the full hearing here.  It addressed specifically three new proposed statutes that tackle long-standing Medicaid eligibility loopholes.  These are:

  • The Prioritizing the Most Vulnerable Over Lottery Winners Act, by Representative Fred Upton
  • The Verify Eligibility Coverage (VECA) Act, by Representative Bill Flores
  • H.R. 181, The Close Annuity Loopholes in Medicaid (CALM) Act, by Representative Markwayne Mullin

As their titles imply, these proposed laws would close Medicaid eligibility loopholes that allow big lottery winners, undocumented immigrants, and wealthy annuity buyers to qualify for Medicaid long-term care benefits.  Discussion drafts of each of the proposed statutes are available here.

We’re especially fond of the effort to stop abuse of Medicaid-compliant annuities.  These financial work-arounds enable wealthy couples to divest hundreds of thousands of dollars, capture large monthly incomes for the community spouse, and qualify the institutionalized spouse immediately for Medicaid-financed care. They dodge the asset transfer rules and evade otherwise mandatory estate recovery.  We’ve had this abuse in our sights for a long time, having published the following LTC Bullets about the problem:

LTC Bullet: Annuity Blues, Friday, November 15, 2013

LTC Bullet: Medicaid Planning—The Rest of the Story, Friday, February 7, 2014: Also applies to the Medicaid planning problem.

LTC Bullet: How to End Medicaid Annuity Abuse, Friday, February 28, 2014

LTC Bullet: Medically Underwritten Annuities for LTC, Friday, May 15, 2015; the good LTC annuities

LTC Bullet: Medicaid Annuity Abuse: A Case Study, Friday, June 5, 2015

LTC Bullet: LTC Annuities: To Get or Avoid Medicaid?, Friday, June 19, 2015

Bottom line, the prospects are looking up for giving Medicaid LTC benefits back to the poor and encouraging everyone else to plan early, save, invest or insure for LTC risk and cost.  Stay tuned for more as new developments occur.  We’ll keep you posted.

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Updated, Monday, January 30, 2017, 9:32 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #17-004:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Trying To Solve The Alzheimer’s Puzzle

  • Consumer Facing Insurance Educational Platform, Agent Review Creates Clients' Choice Award

  • Elderly face increased disability risk after emergency room visit

  • A Housing Crisis for Seniors

  • How Your Morning Coffee Might Slow Down Aging

  • What Medicaid Block Grants Would Mean For Seniors

  • What’s in and what’s out for retirees in 2017

  • How baby boomers are changing senior living community design

  • LTC Industry Veteran Gene Arsenault Joins LTC Global

  • Blame Technology, Not Longer Life Spans, for Health Spending Increases

  • Trump’s Health Plan Would Convert Medicaid to Block Grants, Aide Says

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, January 27, 2017, 11:12 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  FACING ALZHEIMER’S

LTC Comment:  Is Alzheimer’s Disease an unmitigated personal, social, political, and economic disaster as PBS suggests?  Or is there another dimension to consider after the ***news.***

*** TODAY'S LTC BULLET is sponsored by Claude Thau, a GA whose proprietary tools help advisors find and educate clients, reducing the “Ping-Pong” in the LTCi sales process. Help clients project their exposure to LTC risk, compare Combo vs. Stand-Alone LTCi easily, and make informed final decisions about buying LTCi in 15-20 minutes!  Change work-site LTCi sales from a series of proposal deliveries to a single interactive consultation!  Claude is the lead author of the Milliman Broker World LTCi Survey, one of Senior Market Advisor's 10 "Power People" in LTCi in 2007, & a past Chair of the Center for Long-Term Care Financing. Contact Claude at 800-999-3026, x2241 or claudet@targetins.com to ask questions or get references. ***

*** LTC CLIPPING SERVICE:  Do you spend a lot, maybe too much time scanning the media to keep up with professional news?  Have we got a deal for you?   Leave that to us.  We’ll find, summarize, highlight and link any news story, report, study or journal article you really need to know and understand.  We’ll email you a quick and concise notice like the one below.  And we’ll field your questions if you need more information.  It’s like having a world-class consultant at your fingertips.  How can you get in on this opportunity?  Contact Damon for details at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  He’ll have you in the loop before you can say “the check is in the mail.”

1/24/2017, “How baby boomers are changing senior living community design,” McKnight's Senior Living

Quote:  “As changing consumer preferences and payment models lead some developers and operators of nonprofit and for-profit senior living communities to reduce the number of skilled nursing beds in their offerings, they are looking for ways to repurpose and update space and build new communities to cater to a different type of resident. Baby boomer preferences are influencing their design decisions, according to three: living architecture.

LTC Comment:  We’ve expected boomers to influence senior living designs for many years.  But now it’s really happening. ***

 

LTC BULLET:  FACING ALZHEIMER’S

LTC Comment:  Last Wednesday night, the Public Broadcasting System ran a special titled “Alzheimer’s:  Every Minute Counts.”  Billed as “an urgent wake-up call about the national threat posed by Alzheimer’s disease,” the show, according to Dr. Bill Thomas’s Changing Aging blog focused on “the tragedy-only narrative of dementia, designed to catch media attention . . . by stoking and feeding on our deepest fears about aging.”  I watched the show and, yes, it was dark, foreboding, depressing, and relentlessly negative.

But is there really another way to look at the “scourge” of Alzheimer’s?  Dr. Thomas, well known for his efforts to improve long-term care--The Eden Alternative and The Green House Project--thinks so.  Two days before the PBS special aired, Changing Aging sent this heads up to subscribers:

The film details only one side of the story when it comes to Alzheimer’s. The result highlights just how hard care partnering can be without giving voice to people living with dementia or how society causes much of this suffering. The film uses scare tactics in the name of safety without respecting the dignity of taking risks  which those of us without a diagnosis take for granted every day. The film speaks about mounting medical costs with no mention of innovation or social capital. It warns us of the hardships of people living with dementia in isolation without highlighting communities who are banding together and helping each other live well regardless of cognitive ability. The film pathologizes “wandering” without asking how people are getting creative to protect the freedom to go where one chooses. The film interviews only one person living with dementia and the interview takes place immediately following her being given the diagnosis. The single ray of hope and possibility for living well comes at the end of the film when a family care partner is supported by hospice and remarks, “I have always been against any kind of help because I thought I would have to put her in a home or something, and I was totally wrong.” The film concludes with a plug for medical research funding as the only possible thing one can do about this so-called crisis.

Follow the links in that paragraph and you’ll discover a kinder, gentler perspective on Alzheimer’s Disease, the people experiencing it, and their caregivers.  Finding a cure and funding are important goals, but so are respecting, supporting and enhancing the lives of people living with dementia.  The PBS special neglected even to give lip service to those considerations.

For the full ChangingAging perspective on these matters, check out “Alzheimer’s:  Every Minute Person Counts.”  Why are Dr. Thomas and ChangingAging so passionate about respecting and supporting people with dementia and other disabling conditions?  To understand that, read about Bill and Jude Thomas’s personal experience with their daughters Hannah and Haleigh in “A Hundred Miles in Their Shoes.”  You will come away with a much stronger, broader and humane sense of what it means to deal fully and compassionately with the challenges of neurological disorders.

LTC Comment:  I also found the PBS special on Alzheimer’s deficient from a totally different perspective.  The show implied that Medicare is the major funder of Alzheimer’s while giving Medicaid, the elephant in the room, short shrift.  It suggested that everyone goes to assisted living facilities and spends down savings there until, totally broke, they turn to Medicaid.  Some do, especially those with too little income or savings to know or find out how Medicaid long-term care eligibility really works, but more prosperous people learn quickly how to game the system, take advantage of Medicaid’s generous and elastic eligibility rules, and smooth their way into the best services and facilities with “key money.”

A major reason why the PBS show, the Alzheimer’s Association that sponsored it, and most analysts are fixated on the personal, social and financial tragedy of the disease is that public policy has distorted the LTC financing system.  By making nursing home care virtually free in 1965, Medicaid caused institutional bias, impeded a market for home care, crowded out private insurance, and left people with dementia and their caregivers largely unsupported financially and alone.  Rebalancing from institutional to home care now is too little too late, because Medicaid lacks the resources to provide access to and quality of care in home and community-based settings as long as it remains the dominant LTC payer for most Americans.

But just as Alzheimer’s is not all and only tragedy, so policy to confront its challenges is not entirely hopeless.  Give Medicaid back to the genuinely needy.  Use some of the savings to incentivize LTC planning, saving and insurance.  Replace perverse public policy incentives with carrots and sticks to encourage responsible behavior.  The looming cataclysm PBS purveyed is real and serious, but throwing more money America does not have at a cure for Alzheimer’s while squandering the resources we do have on counterproductive public policies, benefits no one . . . least of all the copers celebrated by ChangingAging.  So take heart, see the problem clearly and fully, celebrate the possibilities, plot a better course, and start now.

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Updated, Monday, January 23, 2017, 9:43 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #17-003:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • 21 Medicare Health Plans Warned To Fix Provider Directory Errors
  • Families Spend More To Care For Their Aging Parents Than To Raise Their Kids
  • Hybrid Insurance Policies Gaining Steam
  • UnitedHealth to take $350 million LTCI guaranty fund charge
  • The Nation's Fiscal Health:  Action is Needed to Address the Federal Government's Fiscal Future
  • Treasury economist finds women need help with LTC costs
  • Medicare 2017 costs at a glance
  • 7 key ways the long-term care insurance market has changed
  • Florida works out LTCI rate agreement
  • Health plans could see up to $10 billion more from Medicare Advantage
  • Rebooting the nursing home
  • Don’t Underestimate the Value of Long-Term Care Insurance
  • NIC: Nursing care occupancy clocks in at lowest level since 2005
  • U.S. Cancer Death Rates Continue to Fall:  Report
  • Lawmaker proposes 'sex prescriptions' for nursing home residents
  • Smokers to pay for long-term care plan via taxes
  • Studies find worrying over- and underuse of medicine worldwide

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, January 20, 2017, 10:46 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  WHAT’S WRONG WITH BUNDLED AND VALUE-BASED LTC PAYMENTS?

LTC Comment:  Big changes are afoot in government financing of post-acute and long-term care--changes that will rattle private LTC financing options as well.  We present the big picture after the ***news.***

*** INAUGURATION DAY:  Whether you celebrate or mourn today, at least recognize and appreciate the miracle of American democracy as polar political opposites pass the baton of power peacefully.  Or so we hope and expect. ***

*** NEW MEDICARE NUMBERS FOR 2017: 

1/17/2017, “Medicare 2017 costs at a glance,” by Medicare.gov

Quote:  “Listed below are basic costs for people with Medicare. If you want to see and compare costs for specific health care plans, visit the Medicare Plan Finder.  For specific cost information (like whether you've met your deductible, how much you'll pay for an item or service you got, or the status of a claim), visit MyMedicare.gov.

LTC Comment:  We updated these key Medicare numbers in The Zone.  There you can find the comparable numbers for each year going back to 1993.  You’ll need your user name and password to access this information.  For a UN/PW reminder or to join the Center and gain access to all our members-only information, contact damon@centerltc.com.

Here’s our summary from The Zone for the most recent five years:

Part A:  Hospital Insurance

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

SNF Coinsurance - 21st through 100th days

$148.00

$152.00

$157.50

$161.00

 $164.50

Inpatient Hospital Deductible - 1st 60 Days

1,184.00

1,216.00

1,260.00

1,288.00

1,316.00

Hospital Daily Coinsurance - 61st
through 90th days

296.00

304.00

315.00

322.00

329.00

Lifetime Reserve Daily Coinsurance

592.00

608.00

630.00

644.00

658.00

Part B:  Medical Insurance

 

 

 

 

 

Annual Deductible

147.00

147.00

157.00

166.00

183.00

Coinsurance

20%

20%

20%

20%

20%

Monthly Premium

104.90*

104.90*

104.90*

104.90*

109.00*

*Higher for higher income beneficiaries

*** ROSS SCHRIFTMAN, LTCI producer and longtime Center member, informs us:  “I will be interviewed on radio station WFYL in Norristown, PA by Gerontologist John O'Hara.  We will discuss my book, my movie project (www.mymilliondollarmom.com) and long term care planning.  The interview will air on Saturday, January 21st at 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.  The program is called The Balanced Life.  To tune in, hit the ‘listen live’ button on the station’s website here: http://www.1180wfyl.com/saturday.html.  If you miss the broadcast, don't worry.  I will post a link to the podcast as soon as it is available on the station's website. In the meantime, our goal is to be funded for the film project by the end of March and begin production early this summer.  So this is the time that you can help support our efforts to bring more awareness about Alzheimer's through our film by making a charitable donation at our website at www.mymilliondollarmom.com.  Thank you for your support.  Ross Schriftman  Tel. 215-682-7075” *** 

 

LTC BULLET:  WHAT’S WRONG WITH BUNDLED AND VALUE-BASED LTC PAYMENTS?

LTC Comment:  Recently, listening to long-term care policy experts speculate about the likely future prospects under the approaching Trump presidency, I heard something both wrong and disturbing.  A supposedly “conservative” commenter observed that a major new approach to LTC financing promoted by the Obama Administration—bundled and value-based long-term care payments—should be embraced and carried forward by the new Administration.  I could not disagree more.  Because such views are being expressed and because so many of the officials of both parties in DC and the states who are implementing the new policies will remain in positions of influence, I want to re-visit our critique of these bad ideas.

What’s the Problem?

Huge changes in how the government pays for post-acute and long-term care are under way, building steam, and about to revolutionize LTC service delivery.  The system's transformation to "managed care," whereby state Medicaid programs turn over responsibility for providing and paying for LTC to the highest bidders, has long been sweeping the country.  We've touched on that development and its likely ramifications in earlier Center publications.  There will be more to come. 

The government's latest move toward centralized control of the LTC market is even more significant.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is changing the focus of long-term care financing in both of the programs for which it is responsible from paying for services (volume) to paying for value (as measured by new, vague and complicated "quality" metrics).  "Prospective payment," "bundling," and “value-based” reimbursement are on every health care bureaucrat's lips.  The new system will put care managers and providers at far greater financial risk.  Experts worry the end result will be a two-tiered system with poor providers getting worse and becoming more dependent than ever on low Medicaid reimbursements.

In a nutshell, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) seeks to change both programs’ LTC payment systems to reward quality instead of quantity.  Sounds good, right?  But why does government pay for most LTC in the first place?  Why does it have to revolutionize its reimbursement methods to ensure quality?  Why can't people simply choose the LTC services and providers they prefer without the long arm of the law needing to intervene? 

Those are the questions I tried to answer in the following speech, delivered to Omega Healthcare Investors, Inc. in Dallas, Texas on November 10, 2015.  You'll see why I think the whole publicly financed long-term care house of cards may soon come crashing down.  We’re re-publishing this speech, which was originally distributed in a November 2015 LTC Bullet, because the points it makes are more important now than before.  With the electorate’s rejection of Hillary Clinton for a third Obama term and with the impending repeal and replacement of ObamaCare, there is a real possibility now to reverse the tide of change toward these misguided policies and to turn health and long-term care policy in a more productive direction.

-------------- 

“The Future of Long-Term Care Seen Through the Prism of History”
by
Stephen A. Moses

If value-based payment is good enough for Medicare, it should be good enough for McDonald’s too.

A monopsonistic, government-based nutrient payer could ensure quality food distribution by paying for value instead of quantity.

We could reimburse prospectively for dietary-related groups of alimentary consumption episodes rewarding lower food poisoning levels with five-star ratings.

“What if I want a Big Mac,” you ask?  Tough luck.  Too many calories for too little nutrition.  The re-hospitalization risk is off the chart.

Why do we have prospective payment systems, bundling, managed care, and value-based payment in health care but not in food distribution?

Why is government micro-management of long-term care service delivery and financing the wave of the future?

Well, it’s been a slippery slope for 50 years.  Santayana said:  Remember history or you’ll repeat it.  We’re not just repeating the mistakes of the past, we’re doubling down.

So, how did we get into this mess?

Once upon a time, long-term care was a Mom and Pop arrangement.  Mom and Pop took care of Grandpa and Grandma, usually as a family, sometimes as a business.

Then, in 1965, government stepped in to help.  At first, Medicare and Medicaid paid generously on a fee-for-service basis--initially to win passage of those programs and later to sustain support for them from business and political interests.

Medicare was to be “social insurance” for acute health care with premiums paid and benefits received by all.

Medicaid was to be a safety-net for long-term care, a means-tested public welfare program.

Remember that distinction between social insurance and welfare.  We’ll return to it.

In the beginning, Medicaid offered only nursing home care.  This was the origin of the welfare-program’s infamous “institutional bias.”

And in the beginning, Medicaid had no asset transfer restrictions nor any estate recovery requirement.  Access to publicly funded nursing home care was easy and practically universal.

Now, people aren’t stupid.  They saw that Medicaid would pay for Grandma in a nursing home, but they’d be burdened by personal caregiving or face cash out of pocket for any other kind of care.

Why pay for home care, adult day care, respite care or assisted living, when the government provides nursing home care? 

Unsurprisingly, a private market for home and community-based services did not develop in those early years.  There was no financial incentive for entrepreneurs to build a better long-term care mouse trap.

The same generous nursing home policies also stunted a budding private long-term care insurance market in the mid-1970s.  Why insure privately for a risk and cost the government already pays for?

The nursing home profession was pretty savvy also.  They saw a huge new funding source in Medicaid and Medicare.  Naturally, nursing homes adapted to take full advantage of the opportunity.  They formed powerful interest groups to influence public LTC policy.

So what do you think happened by the early 1970s?  P.J. O'Rourke, the political satirist, likes to say "If you think health care is expensive now, just wait until it's free."  Of course, the cost of Medicaid financed long-term care exploded.

Did the government respond by addressing the cause of this cost inflation—easily available free long-term care paid for by Medicaid?

No.  Government attacked the symptom of bulging budgets instead. 

Figuring nursing homes couldn’t charge for beds that don’t exist, the public pontiffs of health policy imposed “certificate of need” requirements severely limiting new construction.

But you don’t need a Ph.D. in economics to understand what happens in any market when you artificially cap supply.  Prices tend to increase and that’s exactly what happened. 

Nursing homes said:  “We can’t build more beds?  Fine, we’ll charge you more for the ones we already have.  Thanks, by the way, for protecting us from new entrants into our business.”

So, government finally got the message and curtailed the cause of the problem, free Medicaid-financed nursing home care, right?  Wrong.  The Medicaid monarchs capped nursing home reimbursement instead. 

This was the origin of the differential between low Medicaid reimbursements (often less than the cost of providing the care) and market-based rates half again higher but dwindling in total as private-payers followed public policy incentives and migrated to Medicaid.

Now, put your economists’ hats back on.  With supply and price capped, what do you think happened to demand?  Correct, it went through the roof!  Nursing home occupancy in the mid-1980s jumped to 95 percent at a time when hospitals were little more than half full.

If a nursing home was willing to accept Medicaid's low reimbursement rates, it could fill all of its beds . . . no matter what kind of care it provided.  Consequently, quality of care collapsed in principally Medicaid-financed nursing homes.  Or so the public powers-that-be concluded.

True to form, government attacked the symptom (poor quality) instead of the cause (public financing).  As if wishing could make it so, Congress simply mandated higher quality, more nurses’ aides, better training and so on in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987.

Thankfully, this time federal command and control worked.  Expenditure growth abated and quality improved—NOT. 

Now caught between the rock of inadequate reimbursement and the hard place of mandatory quality, the nursing home profession had no place to turn but to the courts.

Suing under the 1981 “Boren Amendment” which required state Medicaid programs to reimburse nursing homes adequately so they could provide good care--lo and behold--state nursing home associations won most of those lawsuits.

Who says you can’t fight city hall?

But then, what do you think the government did next?  You guessed it.  Congress repealed the Boren Amendment in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.  Since then, there has been no legal floor under Medicaid reimbursement for nursing home care, yet costs continued to grow insupportably.

Now, while all this was going on another situation developed.  Private payers in nursing homes, paying half again as much as Medicaid for the same semi-private room, began to wise up. 

They rebelled against this “cost shifting” toward them by seeking ways to qualify for Medicaid themselves.  After all, state and federal laws require the same quality of care regardless of payment source.  So why not?

Some Medicaid eligibility workers were only too eager to help families who faced a long-term care crisis by stretching Medicaid’s already elastic financial eligibility rules in their favor. 

Other workers tried to solve the national debt by strictly enforcing the most draconian rules keeping even the poorest families off Medicaid. 

A special practice of elder law evolved to impoverish wealthier clients artificially in order to qualify them for LTC benefits.

In other words, Medicaid long-term care eligibility became a crap shoot with the lucrative benefit passing to people lucky enough to get a lenient eligibility worker or wealthy enough to consult a Medicaid planning attorney.

Not that it was ever very hard to qualify for Medicaid long-term care benefits.  Despite the common misconception that you must be “low income” to get Medicaid, the fact is that anyone with income below the cost of a nursing home, upwards of $80,000 per year on average, is eligible based on income. 

Consequently, two out of five people receiving Medicaid LTC benefits have incomes between $51,000 and $217,000 per year or more.  More than two-thirds getting Medicaid LTC have incomes between $30,000 and infinity.  Only for the low income?  Hardly.

What about assets?  The usual limit of $2,000 in cash or equivalents is unquestionably poor.  But to get to that level, you can spend down on anything, not just care.  Lawyers advise world cruises, big parties, better cars and larger houses to dispose or shelter excess assets.

Furthermore, virtually unlimited exempt resources don’t even count toward the asset limit.  These include . . .

At least $552,000 in home equity [$560,000 as of 2017] and--with no dollar limit at all--one business including the capital and cash flow, Individual Retirement Accounts, one automobile, term life insurance, prepaid burial plans, home furnishings, and personal belongings.

If you still have too much money, your friendly local Medicaid planner will wave a magic legal wand and reduce the surplus to a level below the welfare program’s income and asset limits. 

Cost in attorneys’ fees to become eligible for Medicaid after you already need care?  About the same as one month in a nursing home private pay, maybe $6,000 or $7,000.

In the early ‘80s, Congress began to attack the problem of Medicaid eligibility abuse with a long series of statutes:

TEFRA (the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982) for the first time authorized state Medicaid programs to impose asset transfer penalties, liens on real property and estate recoveries.  But these measures were only voluntary.

MeCCA (the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988) required state Medicaid programs to penalize asset transfers made for the purpose of qualifying for public benefits within 30 months of application.

OBRA ’93 (the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of that year) made estate recoveries mandatory, expanded the asset transfer look-back period to 36 months, and eliminated the previous 30-month cap on the asset transfer penalty.

When none of these measures worked as hoped, Congress and President Clinton stepped in with HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) which made it a crime to transfer assets for less than fair market value for the purpose of qualifying for Medicaid.

Senior advocates and the elder law bar called this the “Throw Granny in Jail Law,” so Congress repealed that provision in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and replaced it with the “Throw Granny’s Lawyer in Jail Law” making it a crime to advise a client in exchange for a fee to transfer assets to get Medicaid.

When that law was deemed unconstitutional because it held lawyers culpable for recommending a practice made legal again when Congress repealed “Throw Granny in Jail,” public policy intended to save Medicaid for the needy was dead in the water again.

Nothing more happened until the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 put the first cap ever on Medicaid’s home equity exemption.  It started at $500,000 or $750,000 at state legislatures’ discretion and has increased with inflation to range today from $552,000 to $828,000, from four to seven times the average senior’s home equity.

The DRA ’05 also extended the transfer of assets look-back to five years and closed several loopholes such as the “half-a-loaf” strategy, but it left other gimmicks used to qualify millionaires for Medicaid in effect such as the “Medicaid-compliant annuity.” 

Now, let’s pause for a moment and review.  Government intervened in the long-term care marketplace 50 years ago by providing nursing home care to infirm seniors with most of their assets exempt from spend down and most of their income (largely Social Security benefits) as co-insurance. 

This caused Medicaid LTC expenditures to skyrocket leading to federal and state initiatives to control costs by capping supply and price which drove up demand, undercut quality, reduced private-pay census, and crowded out private markets for long-term care insurance or home equity conversion (to fund LTC) and for home and community-based services (to provide care).

Meanwhile, from the early 1980s forward, another theme developed which was aimed at addressing the problem of escalating Medicaid LTC costs without confronting their real cause.

Academics and government officials became enamored of the idea that Medicaid's long-term care financing crisis could be relieved by paying less for expensive nursing home care and more for lower-priced home and community-based services.

The idea is that taking care of people in their own homes or in the community must be cheaper than maintaining them in a nursing home.  Data often cited at the individual level seem to show that home care is less expensive than nursing home care. 

But this reasoning commits the fallacy of composition, inferring that potential savings for specific individuals are additive to the society as a whole. 

In fact, available research does not show that home and community-based services save money compared to nursing home care overall. 

Community-based care usually only delays institutional services.  Between them, expanded home care plus eventual nursing home care end up costing more in the long run than nursing home care alone.  

That fact is borne out by historical data showing continued growth in total Medicaid long-term care expenditures.  While nursing home costs have leveled out considerably, the home care side of Medicaid continues to grow rapidly.

Here’s the point:  providing long-term care in the most appropriate and desirable setting is a worthy goal to pursue.  But it does not save money.

For every person in a nursing home or assisted living facility in America, there are two or three of equal or greater disability, half of whom are bedbound, incontinent or both, who remain at home.  They are able to stay home because their families, mostly daughters and daughters-in-law, struggle heroically to keep them out of an institution.

When government starts providing long-term care that they want (home care) instead of long-term care that they’d prefer to avoid (nursing home care), people come out of the woodwork to take advantage of it.  That too drives up overall Medicaid LTC expenditures.

Finally, Medicaid financed home and community-based care is deadly to the marketability of private long-term care financing alternatives, such as reverse mortgages or long-term care insurance. 

The big benefit of being able to pay privately for long-term care is the ability to command red-carpet access to top-quality long-term care at the most appropriate level and in the private marketplace. 

To the extent the government conveys to the American public that consumers can obtain the same benefits financed by Medicaid, Medicaid will continue to explode in costs and reverse mortgages to fund long-term care in the short-term and LTC insurance to fund it in the long run will remain stunted.

What a mess!  Here it is in a nutshell.

Easy access to Medicaid-financed nursing home care prevented the development of a private market for home and community-based services. 

Explosive cost growth led to ultimately unsuccessful government efforts to control the supply, price, quality, type and access to Medicaid funded care.

Notoriously low Medicaid reimbursement rates for two-thirds of nursing home residents were partially counterbalanced by relatively generous Medicare reimbursement levels for post-acute and home health care.

As good business people, the nursing home profession pursued the incentives in public policy by reaching out for higher paying Medicare post-acute patients and by seeking fewer lower-paying long-term Medicaid custodial care residents.

That caused the balance of Medicare financing to shift significantly from nearly all acute care toward much more post-acute and long-term care. 

Between 1990 and 2013, long-term care—defined as nursing home and home health care—remained roughly eight percent of total National Health Expenditures.

During the same period, however, the proportion of long-term care expenditures funded by Medicare more than tripled from 9 percent in 1990 to 29 percent in 2013.  Long-term care increased from 4.5 percent of total Medicare expenditures to 11.7 percent in those 23 years.  (CMS-NHE Data)

Consider what this means.  Our current long-term care financing system depends, and has depended for decades, on generous and growing Medicare reimbursements for home care and nursing home care balancing meager Medicaid reimbursements for the majority of people dependent on either or both programs.

As worries about Medicare’s solvency grew throughout the 2000s, federal policy makers looked for new ways to control public LTC expenditures.  CMS hit upon the idea of driving reimbursement toward “quality” instead of “quantity” as a way to reduce long-term care cost growth in Medicare and Medicaid.

In other words, this latest push by government to manage the LTC service delivery and financing system is designed to fix or at least mitigate problems that were actually caused by earlier government market interventions.

As always before, these new interventions address symptoms—high costs, low quality  and public-policy-induced market dysfunction—instead of the real causes, perverse incentives created by earlier government intercessions.

The risk is that further interference in an already fragile LTC market will turn everything topsy-turvy just as the age wave begins to crest and the entitlement programs’ unfunded liabilities begin to come due.

Remember what I said at the beginning of this talk about how Medicare began as “social insurance” and Medicaid as welfare? 

Ironically, political pressure is building now to means-test, that is to say welfarize, Medicare.  I’ve already shown how Medicaid has become a de facto entitlement, the dominant LTC funding source for all economic levels of Americans.

The net effect of this long historical process is that public financing of long-term care has expanded beyond government’s ability to pay while private LTC financing has dwindled almost to disappearance.

The public does not know who pays for long-term care, but they know someone must pay.  You don’t see Alzheimer’s patients dying in the gutter.

The result is a public asleep about the risk and cost of long-term care and dependent by default on a mostly publicly financed LTC service delivery system that may be on its last legs, unable to squeeze more and better care out of more and more intrusive regulations and mandates.

In a free market consumers rule.  They demand quality and volume.  If they don’t like what they get, they vote with their pocket books and move on to products and providers they prefer.

Competition to provide the best care at the lowest price in the most appropriate settings could and would solve the LTC service delivery and financing problems that have been created by government’s interventions, however well-intentioned those interventions may have been.

Do you have any doubt that long-term care services and financing in the United States would be better if government had left the market alone and allowed competition and the profit motive to make the best possible care available at affordable levels?

Would the poor suffer?  More than they do now?  Hardly.  There would be room for a real safety net paying market rates for the full continuum of care.  Such a safety net might even be possible without public funds, relying entirely on charity and philanthropy. 

But, that is not the course we’re on.  Let’s get back to reality.  I fear we’re headed toward a perfect economic storm when interest rates finally increase making service of our massive public debt unsustainable and leading to a severe retrenchment in Medicaid and Medicare long-term care financing. 

Such an outcome is very nearly inevitable.  The Federal Reserve and the U.S. Government cannot ignore economic gravity forever.  Sooner or later debt and unfunded promises come due.

But to end on a more positive note, if the worst does happen, we’ll be forced to get back to methods and strategies that are more in keeping with the traditional American values of independence, personal responsibility, self-sufficiency and hard work.

I predict that as government is compelled to withdraw from LTC financing dominance:

Medicaid will have to become a real welfare program.  Its home equity exemption will disappear or be radically reduced.  Consumers will use their home equity to pay privately for long-term care.  They’ll employ reverse mortgages for that purpose. 

That new source of private financial oxygen will reinvigorate all providers across the whole continuum of long-term care.

Over time, after watching their own inheritances consumed by their parents’ long-term care costs, the next generation will finally see the merit of private LTC insurance and begin to buy it.

Medicare will stop being “social insurance” paid for by and available to all.  It will be means-tested and become a program for the poor, and hence, as the saying goes, “a poor program,” like Medicaid. 

Acute health care will drift away from mostly public funding toward mostly private financing through health savings accounts and high-deductible insurance.

After 50 years of consuming our economic seed corn by moving ever more fully away from private and toward public financing of long-term care, demographic and economic reality will force us back to the kind of freer market that made the country great in the first place.

Now, before I conclude and turn to your questions, let me anticipate your first query.  You might ask:

“Well Steve, you’ve painted a pretty dismal picture.  Why are you so worried that this whole publicly financed long-term care house of cards may soon come crashing down?”

I’m glad you asked.

My organization, the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, has developed a tool to measure and analyze that risk.

We call it the “Index of Long-Term Care Vulnerability.”  We’ve applied the Index to the LTC service delivery and financing systems in four states so far:  Virginia, New Jersey, Georgia, and most recently, New Hampshire.

You can find our reports on each of those projects by opening the link on my handout which will take you to an online version of the handout where all the links in it are live.

Our Index of LTC Vulnerability analyzes the sustainability of current long-term care systems by examining published data in each of seven key issue areas.  These are:

  • Aging demographics:  how many 85 year olds are in the pipeline?  Answer:  Too many; more than triple what we’re dealing with now by 2050.
     
  • Morbidity:  how sick will they be?  Answer:  Too sick.  Recent optimistic compression of morbidity predictions are not bearing out due to the obesity epidemic.
     
  • Medicaid:  how viable is the welfare program as a source of future LTC financing?  Answer:  Not very based on expenditure trends, ObamaCare expansion, easy income and asset eligibility, inadequate reimbursement and cost shifting, dual eligibles, rebalancing and managed care challenges.
     
  • Federal revenue:  can revenue from taxation and borrowing sustain the federal share of Medicaid?  Answer:  Almost impossible when interest rates increase because of elevated debt and entitlement liabilities and high state matching rates exacerbated by provider taxes and recessions.
     
  • State revenue:  can state economies generate enough revenue to fund their share of Medicaid?  Answer:  Very doubtful based on rankings of states’ fiscal policies by Cato, Forbes, Mercatus, the Pew Charitable Trust, and the Urban Institute.
     
  • Private financing alternatives:  could genuine asset spend down, higher estate recoveries, reverse mortgages and private LTC insurance relieve the financial pressure on Medicaid and, if so, how much?  Answer:  Plenty if Medicaid financial eligibility rules were tightened and enforced.

    Finally,
     
  • Entitlement mentality:  to what extent has easy access to all forms of public assistance undercut the willingness and ability of the American people to fend for themselves?  Answer:  A lot based on metrics like dependency on Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, and disability, but we won’t know how much until we see what happens when people do have to fend for themselves.

The Index of Long-Term Care Vulnerability comes with an interactive score sheet which allows the user to apply weights and scores for each factor of analysis in order to estimate, albeit subjectively, the potential vulnerability of the national and each state’s long-term care service delivery and financing system. 

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Well, that’s my take on where we are, how we got here, and what’s likely to happen next.  Thanks for your attention.  I’ll be glad to answer questions.

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Updated, Friday, January 13, 2017, 10:41 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  WHO BUYS LTCI AND WHO DOESN’T?

LTC Comment:  LifePlans’ quinquennial answers to these momentous questions and our targeted comments follow the ***news.***

***  SUPERSTITIOUS?  Consider this confluence:  It’s Friday the 13th.  The moon is full.  And the Trump Administration is about to take office.  Kind of reminds me of the old Chinese curses:  “May you get what you wish for” and “May you live in interesting times.”  Such times also evoke the pinyin symbol for “crisis,” composed of the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.”  Whether you’re worried or hopeful, one thing’s for sure.  For the first time in a decade, long-term care policy reform for the better is a real possibility.  Let’s make it happen. ***
 

LTC BULLET:  WHO BUYS LTCI AND WHO DOESN’T?

LTC Comment:  As anyone who reads these LTC Bullets knows, long-term care financing in the USA is a mess.  Medicaid, a welfare program, pays for most expensive extended care.  With its reputation for problems of access, quality, low reimbursement, discrimination and institutional bias, you’d think anything—especially private insurance—would be preferable to Medicaid.  But, think again.  Private LTCI remains the relatively rare exception rather than the rule for most people contemplating the potential need for costly long-term care someday.  Why?

That’s the question LifePlans sets out to answer every five years on behalf of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).  Their latest report, titled “Who Buys Long-Term Care Insurance?:  Twenty-Five Years of Study of Buyers and Non-Buyers in 20152016,” was just published.  Get a copy here and devour it.  You won’t find a better insight into the vagaries of marketing long-term care insurance anywhere.  The Executive Summary and a long list of “Key Findings” make capturing the essence of the report quick and easy.  Here are some abbreviated highlights followed by our comments focused on the report’s findings regarding government’s LTC financing role.

  • The average LTCI buyer is 60 years old, and wealthier than the average non-buyer
  • Current buyers average income is $87,500, same as 2010, but up from $27,000 in 1990
  • Buyers are “planners”
  • Non-buyers are less likely to think they’ll need LTC someday
  • 96% of LTCI policies were comprehensive in 2015; institution-only plans are nearly gone
  • Covered benefits up only 5% compared to five-year increases of 20% to 30% formerly
  • Shorter benefit durations; a new low of four years
  • Inflation protection down from 3 in 4 to 2 in 3
  • Average annual premiums up 19% to $2,727
  • Value is down due to new lapse and interest rate assumptions for new policies
  • 1/3 of buyers bought mainly to protect assets; 1/5 bought to ensure service affordability
  • ¾ of  buyers said state participation in the LTC Partnership Program was important
  • 2/3 cited potential cost increases as their main reason to buy now
  • 71% of married couples have policies on both
  • Spouses, agents and financial planners, rarely their children, influence buyers
  • For 15 years, agent’s recommendation and insurer’s reputation have been key
  • Only 20% of buyers knew their carrier raised premiums, but 40% expected it to happen
  • 55% of non-buyers expected future premium increases
  • Most buyers prefer gradual premium adjustments to less frequent, larger increases
  • 1 in 5 buyers considered a combo product before buying a stand-alone product
  • Half of non-buyers said they’d be more likely to buy a combo than a stand-alone product
  • Cost has been the key factor for non-buyers for 25 years; only 15% say too confusing
  • Only 1/3 of non-buyers said they’d never buy, so most are future potential buyers
  • Non-buyers’ worries that companies won’t pay are down to 41% from 71% 25 years ago
  • ¾ of non-buyers would reconsider if premiums stable, deductible, with gov’t stop-loss

LTC Comment:  Let’s turn now to what the new report has to say about LTCI buyers’, non-buyers’ and the general public’s opinions regarding LTC financing.  First a quote from the report’s highlights, then our point of view on the subject.

Report:  “Compared to earlier years, non-buyers have greater understanding that if they need LTC the government will not likely pay for it (although more non-buyers than buyers are still mistaken about this).  . . .  Individuals from the general population were most likely to believe that the government will pay for LTC . . ..”

LTC Comment:  Do the authors of this report really not know that the government does pay for most expensive long-term care?  Ironically, the non-buyers and general public who think government does pay for LTC are more correct than the reports’ authors.  For proof, consult government data or read virtually anything the Center for Long-Term Care Reform publishes.  Why deny such an obvious truth?  Keep reading.

Report:  “Across all groups, and over the last 10 years, well under half of respondents believed that it is the federal government’s responsibility to pay for the LTC needs of all people. Over that decade, among the general population age 50 and over, the proportion who believe that the federal government is primarily responsible for paying for care has dropped from about 1 in 3 to about 1 in 4.”

LTC Comment: Now, that is interesting.  While the federal government, specifically Medicaid and Medicare, continues to pay for the vast majority of expensive long-term care (see LTC Bullet:  So What if the Government Pays for Most LTC, 2015 Data Update), the public is less likely than ever to think paying for LTC is the government’s responsibility.  If you sense an informational disconnect, you’re right.  Why that matters?  Keep reading.

Report:  “Large majorities of respondents among the general population age 50 and over believe that it is the federal government’s responsibility to encourage people to buy LTC insurance by making premiums fully tax deductible or by allowing employed individuals to use pretax dollars to pay for the insurance.  Roughly 2 in 5 Americans over age 50 believe that the single most important action government could take is to offer more tax incentives for the purchase of private insurance policies.”

LTC Comment:  People like tax deductions?  Not exactly big news.  But based on past history and future budget prospects, the probability of above-the-line tax deductibility for LTCI without compensating expenditure reductions is as remote as ever.  (By the way, we know how to deliver those compensating expenditure reductions.  See Save Medicaid LTC $30 Billion Per Year AND Improve the Program.)

Report:  “Most respondents (65 percent) felt it was important to avoid relying on Medicaid for any LTC they might need in the future.”

LTC Comment:  That’s nice, but evidently avoiding reliance on Medicaid LTC isn’t important enough for them to plan, save, invest or insure for long-term care.  How can people think they should avoid Medicaid, but fail to act?  Keep reading.

Report:  “Individuals were asked about their views and preferences on two potential program structures: 

“A private insurance policy would pay for roughly the first two years of LTC services, and then the government would take over and pay for any LTC services needed after that (Back-end or Catastrophic Public Coverage).

“The government would pay for roughly the first two years of LTC services, and then a private insurance policy would take over and pay for any LTC services needed after that (Upfront or Front-end Public Coverage).

“Fifty-five percent preferred a ‘back-end’ program and 27 percent preferred a ‘front-end’ program.  . . . 

“Three in 4 non-buyers said they would be more interested in purchasing a private policy if there was a back-end public program; slightly fewer (69 percent) said the same thing about a front-end public program.”

LTC Comment:  Now we’re getting to the crux of the matter.  People like the idea of buying a little private insurance, preferably with a big tax deduction, and having the government pay for the higher, back-end catastrophic costs?  Well, yeah.  No surprise there. 

What’s really going on here?  What’s the principle underlying all these findings?  People want something for nothing and the closer to nothing the better.  Want proof?  Check out the next report finding.

Report:  “Regardless of what type of potential program they preferred, respondents were willing to pay about $85 per month, or a little over $1,000 per year. Slightly less than one-third would be willing to pay at least $100 per month for either of these programs.”

LTC Comment:   Obviously, people are not willing to pay enough in premiums for the coverage they need, but they’re quite happy to have the government make up the difference, even though they don’t think that’s the government’s responsibility. 

Confused?  So are the public, LTCI buyers and non-buyers, and the authors of this report.  Here’s the explanation to reconcile all the foregoing contradictions.

Government does pay for most expensive LTC and does so without impoverishing many relatively prosperous people.  That 50-year-old policy desensitized the public to LTC risk and cost.  Hence, few people know who pays for LTC, nor do they care, until they need care and don’t want to pay for it.  Then Medicaid and Medicare step in.  That’s why, despite decades of teaching consumers they’ll lose their life’s savings if they don’t buy LTCI, people still don’t buy what LTCI is selling.  Sure, make it cheap enough with subsidized premiums and big tax deductions and have the government cover the bigger risk, and well, then maybe.  But don’t believe it.  That won’t work either.  As long as people can ignore the risk, avoid the premiums, wait to see if they ever need LTC and if they do, transfer the cost to tax-payers, they will not buy LTCI in significantly higher numbers.  The only way to change that reality is to give Medicaid LTC back to its intended recipients, the genuinely needy, by tightening the program’s generous eligibility rules and eliminating the big asset exemptions and loopholes.  Do that and you fix the problem.  Don’t and the confusion and contradictions documented by this report will continue indefinitely.

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Updated, Monday, January 9, 2017, 10:46 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #17-002:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Occupational Therapy May Not Reduce Decline In Patients With AD: Study

  • How New York's Bloated Medicaid Program Punishes New Jersey And Other States

  • Boomers and their parents come face to face with need for support, care

  • Regulator calls for a long-term care planning shift

  • What Should I Do If I Purchased Long-Term Care Insurance from a Disreputable Company?

  • A Little Optimism on the Future of Retirement

  • Senior living continues to see job growth, although rate is slowing

  • New Nursing Home Rules Offer Residents More Control Of Their Care

  • Dementia more common in people who live near highways

  • 2017 health, disability and LTCI planner

  • U.S. Housing Worth Record-High $29.6 Trillion in 2016

  • CMS should improve oversight of HCBS, GAO says

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, January 6, 2017, 11:19 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  SPOUSAL IMPOVERISHMENT?

LTC Comment:  The myth that access to Medicaid LTC benefits requires impoverishment is pervasive.  A dose of reality concerning spousal impoverishment specifically follows the ***news.***

*** 2017 ILTCI CONFERENCE sponsors inform us that “Early Bird registration rates ($895 for Individual Attendees, $395 for First Time Attendees, $195 for Exhibitors/Sponsors) are available now through Thursday, January 12th, 2017!  If you haven't registered yet be sure to register by 1/12 before our prices all rise by $100.  Register here for the LTC insurance event of the year to be held Sunday, March 26, 2017 12:00 PM - Wednesday, March 29, 2017 5:00 PM (Eastern Time) at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville (Florida) Riverfront.  ***

*** NEW 2016 MEDICAID SPOUSAL IMPOVERISHMENT NUMBERS.  We’ve just updated MEDICAID AND MEDICARE KEY NUMBERS UPDATED ANNUALLY in The Zone, the Center’s members-only website.  If you need your user name and password to access The Zone or if you’d like to join the Center to gain sustained access, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com. ***

*** CLTCR Premium Membership  --  Center for Long-Term Care Reform premium members receive our full suite of individual membership benefits including:  our LTC Bullets and E-Alerts; access to our Members-Only Zone website and Almanac of Long-Term Care; subscription to our Clipping Service; and email/phone access to Steve Moses for 24-hour turnaround queries.  Our Premium Membership is designed to give you a competitive advantage in your long-term care profession. Your increased knowledge of the critical issues and challenges we face in the field of long-term care service delivery and financing equals improved professional success for you and better LTC services for your clients and for those who have no choice but to rely on scarce public resources.  Premium Membership is $250 per year, paid up front or monthly by automatically recurring credit card payments.  Contact Damon at 206-283-7036 / damon@centerltc.com to start your Premium Membership immediately or go directly to our secure online subscription page and sign up for as little as $21 per month. ***

LTC BULLET:  SPOUSAL IMPOVERISHMENT?

LTC Comment:  Before the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988, which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan July 1, 1988, access to Medicaid’s generous long-term care benefits did require spousal impoverishment under certain circumstances.  While the “catastrophic” law was still under consideration in Congress, I described the problem and how the proposed legislation would address it in the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s June 1988 report titled “Medicaid Estate Recoveries:  National Program Inspection”:

Under current law, spouses of institutionalized Medicaid recipients are sometimes forced into impoverishment by Medicaid eligibility rules. This usually occurs because the husband is institutionalized first.  If, as is often the case, most of the family's income such as Social Security and/or a pension is in the husband's name, Medicaid rules provide that all but a small amount must be applied toward his cost of care.  The wife who is left in the home, i.e., the community spouse, retains only a pittance.  On the other hand, if the wife is institutionalized first, and the income is still in the husband's name, he keeps the money, because the community spouse has no legal obligation to contribute toward the cost of the institutionalized spouse's care.

The catastrophic bill addresses this problem by increasing the amount of income and resources that the community spouse may retain without affecting the Medicaid eligibility of the institutionalized spouse.  Because more people would qualify for assistance and less family income would apply toward the cost of institutional care, the fiscal impact of this solution would be to increase Medicaid expenditures.  We found that 3-year cost estimates on similar provisions in different bills varied from $410 million (Congressional Budget Office to $1,275 million (HCFA actuaries) depending on implementation assumptions.  All estimates ascend steeply into future years.   (pps. iii-iv, emphasis added.)

Boy did we get that right!  Medicaid’s long-term care expenditures have skyrocketed ever since, from $18.5 billion for nursing home and home health care in 1990 to $81.7 billion in 2015, more than quadrupling in the ensuing 25 years.

What MCCA ’88 Did

MCCA ’88 dealt with the spousal impoverishment problem in several ways.  It guaranteed the community spouse a “Maximum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance” or MMMNA of up to $1,500 per month.  The law granted a “Community Spouse Resource Allowance” or CSRA of $60,000.

What these provisions meant is that the wife or husband of an institutionalized Medicaid recipient, could retain up to $1,500 per month of the Medicaid spouse’s income instead of that income having to be used to offset Medicaid’s cost of his or her care in the nursing home.  Likewise, the community spouse could retain half of the couple’s joint assets not to exceed $60,000, thus exempting those funds from private LTC liability and increasing Medicaid’s expenditures. 

MCCA ’88 provided for these spousal impoverishment protections to increase with inflation annually.  As of 2017, the original numbers have more than doubled.  The MMMNA is now $3,022.50 per month and the CSRA is $120,900.  A little over $3,000 per month is not easy living, but it is also most assuredly not “spousal impoverishment.”  The official poverty level for single individuals as of 2016 is $11,880 per year or $990 per month, a little less than one-third of the MMMNA.  Medicaid’s LTC role is to provide a safety net for the poor, not to protect a middle-class life style for people who fail to plan, save, invest or insure for long-term care.  So the term “spousal impoverishment” should be stricken from the LTC financing lexicon. 

Updated Medicaid Spousal Impoverishment Numbers

In case you’re interested, we’ve updated and published the Medicaid spousal impoverishment numbers every year since 1991, when the MMMNA was $1,662 and the CSRA was $66,480.  Those data are available to Center members in The Zone here.  You’ll need your user name and password for access to The Zone.  Get a reminder from Damon@centerltc.com if you’re already a Member or contact him to join and get access to this valuable resource.  Our source is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “2017 SSI and Spousal Impoverishment Standards” here.

A Better Way

Now back to that old OIG report from 1988.  Did it oppose the MCCA ‘88’s provisions to eliminate spousal impoverishment?  No!  But it did offer an alternative approach designed to achieve the same result more cost-effectively:

Certain findings from the OIG’s Medicaid Estate Recoveries  report have a direct bearing on the spousal impoverishment issue.  In fact, we believe this problem can be resolved at considerably less public expense than is contemplated in the current legislation.  We found, for example, that many "impoverished spouses" own their homes free and clear.  Their problem is cash flow, not poverty per se.  We found that two-thirds of the elderly poor are unable to qualify for any Medicaid services, although many individuals with large assets are eligible for the program's most valuable benefit  (institutional care).  We documented that recovery of Medicaid payments from the estates of property-holding recipients is very unusual.  This is true because  assets are (1) transferred, sheltered, expended or concealed by recipients and their families and/or (2) public officials have taken no action to recover.  In light of these facts we recommended that propertied recipients be permitted to retain their income and assets while receiving Medicaid long-term care benefits, but only in exchange for a promise, secured by a legal encumbrance, to repay the cost of their care when they no longer need their property.  This repayment would be made from their estates or the estates of their last surviving dependent relatives after the property is no longer needed for a livelihood.  Such a plan would resolve the spousal impoverishment problem, eliminate the most catastrophic financial impact of long-term illness and add a major nontax revenue source for Medicaid.  More importantly, the risk of losing their financial legacy would influence the elderly and their heirs to seek private long-term care insurance protection and thus further relieve fiscal pressure on public programs.  (p. iv)

Congress later adopted some of our 1988 report’s recommendations in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA ’93).  It made estate recoveries mandatory, for example, but it left Medicaid’s many income and asset exemptions unprotected by the “legal encumbrance” to secure that wealth for later recovery as we had recommended.  Nor did the federal government strongly enforce the newly required estate recoveries.  Worse, OBRA ’93 left the home equity exemption unlimited.  That only changed with the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA ’05), which capped home equity at $500,000 to $750,000 ($560,000 to $840,000, as of 2017) at state legislatures’ discretion. 

The end result is that Medicaid LTC expenditures continue to grow rapidly, the public remains desensitized to LTC risks and costs, private financing of LTC through home equity conversion and private insurance is stymied, and LTC access and quality continue to be serious problems.

If all this seems just a little too “inside baseball” to you, then you have a good idea why the complicated subject of long-term care financing policy remains a mystery to most analysts and policy makers.  If you really want to understand what it means, and what has to be done to resolve the problems once and for all, you could do worse than to spend an hour reading the OIG’s report from 29 years ago.  Here it is again:  “Medicaid Estate Recoveries:  National Program Inspection.”

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Updated, Monday, January 2, 2017, 11:19 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #17-001:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Alzheimer's Falls More Heavily on Women than on Men

  • Thousands of Canadians languish in limbo as they wait for long-term care

  • MedPAC: Medicare Advantage Payments Now Equal to Medicare Fee-for-Service

  • Reverse Mortgage Line of Credit Could Fund Long-Term Care

  • Medicare Advantage Plans in 2017: Short-term Outlook is Stable

  • Six in Ten Older Adults Have Seen Friends Lose Financial Independence

  • The next healthcare crisis: Changes in way Medicare pays doctors

  • NAIC seeks long-term care insurer insolvency comments

  • Opinion: Every U.S. taxpayer should watch what Calpers decides about its investment-returns forecast

  • What Happens To Long-Term Care If Trump Remakes Medicare and Medicaid?

  • My Last Patient

  • U.S. financial system risks in 'medium range,' reports say

  • Test Predicting Alzheimer's Would Be Welcome, Survey Finds

  • Harvard study: Elderly demographics will crush existing housing and service options

  • OLD - The Long-Term Care ETF

  • Finally, Giving The Poor Access To Good Health Insurance

  • Caring For A Loved One At Home Can Have A Steep Learning Curve

  • Many Parents With Job-Based Coverage Still Turn To Medicaid, CHIP To Insure Kids

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, December 16, 2016, 10:18 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY?

LTC Comment:  Our annual report follows the ***news.***

*** REGISTRATION IS OPEN for the 17th Annual Intercompany Long-Term Care Insurance Conference to be convened March 26-29, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront in Jacksonville, Florida.  Early Bird registration rates ($895 for Individual Attendees, $395 for First Time Attendees) are available now through January 12th, 2017!  Click here for details and here to register.  Conference organizers tell us:  “If two or more people from your organization are planning to attend, it may be most cost effective for you to become a Sponsor or Exhibitor as they receive deeply discounted registration rates.”  Your Center for Long-Term Care Reform will be present at the meeting eager to discuss new possibilities in the LTC financing policy arena.  See you there! ***

*** MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS.  Let’s take a moment to review the benefits of individual and corporate membership in the Center.  For more details, see our “Membership Levels and Benefits Schedule.”

In a nutshell, as a regular member of the Center ($150 per year or $12.50 per month), you’ll get our weekly LTC Bullets and LTC E-Alerts and a user name and password for access to our “Members-Only Zone.”

In “The Zone,” you’ll find the “Almanac of Long-Term Care,” our compendium of LTC news, reports and statistics stretching back more than a decade with links to critical research materials covering eleven topics from “Aging Demographics” to “Unfunded Liabilities.”

Other features in The Zone include key Medicaid and Medicare numbers updated yearly and archived, a transcription of our highly regarded “Long-Term Care Graduate Seminar,” links to the major current and past “Long-Term Care Cost Surveys,” a couple dozen reasons why veterans should not rely on VA benefits for long-term care and much more.

If you’re really serious about a career in long-term care financing, then join the Center as a “Premium Member” ($250 per year).  At that level, you’ll have all the benefits of regular membership plus email and phone access to Steve Moses with a 24-hour turnaround and a subscription to our “Clipping Service,” placing you on the pioneering forefront of up-to-the moment news, data and analysis in your field.

Premium Elite members ($500 per year) get all of the above plus a complimentary LTC Bullet or LTC E-Alert sponsorship with a banner ad, complimentary Center membership for one assistant, and quickest-turnaround email and phone access to Steve Moses.

Regional Representative members ($500 per year) get all of the above and, after they meet all the qualifications—including five years qualified experience and completion of our LTC Graduate Seminar—the status of Regional Representative of the Center for Long-Term Care Reform.

Every member of the Center gets the “Big Benefit”:  the knowledge and personal satisfaction that you're supporting the indefatigable research and public policy advocacy of the Center for Long-Term Care Reform.

Corporate membership at the Bronze, Silver, Gold and higher levels is also available.  Each level includes the same benefits individual members receive for increasing numbers of employees or producers plus additional benefits exclusively for corporate members. ***
 

LTC BULLET:  WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY?

LTC Comment:  In 2016, the Center for Long-Term Care Reform (jointly with the Federalism in Action think tank) published, CASSANDRA’S QUANDARY: The Future of Long-Term Care in New Hampshire.  While the report focuses on the Granite State, much of its analysis, based on the Center’s “Index of Long-Term Care Vulnerability,” is applicable nationwide. 

Throughout 2016, we conducted research aimed at revealing flaws in the emerging consensus among researchers and policy makers in favor of a new, compulsory, payroll-financed government program to fund catastrophic LTC expenses.  Under a grant from the highly regarded Foundation for Government Accountability think tank we compiled evidence against and proposed a better alternative to that misguided approach.  Our report, provisionally titled “Long-Term Care Financing: The Myth and the Reality,” will be published early in 2017.  But throughout 2016, we gave Center members several insights into the new study’s original plan, change of direction, progress, findings and recommendations:

LTC Bullet:  Center Kicks Off New Year With Major Study,” Friday, January 8, 2016

LTC Bullet:  Losing Principles,” Friday, April 29, 2016

LTC Bullet:  The Early History of LTC Financing (and Why It Matters),” Friday, June 24, 2016

LTC Bullet:  LTC Action Plan,” Friday, July 1, 2016

LTC Bullet:  New Report Preview,” Friday, July 29, 2016

LTC Bullet:  Real vs. Mythical Medicaid,” Friday, August 26, 2016

LTC Bullet:  Behind AHEAD,” Friday, September 2, 2016

LTC Bullet:  Medicaid Malfunctions Multiply,” Friday, September 16, 2016

LTC Bullet:  How Fiscal and Monetary Malfeasance Will Ruin Long-Term Care,” Friday, October 7, 2016

LTC Bullet:  LTC Predictions,” Friday, December 9, 2016

Now let’s turn to the Center for Long-Term Care Reform’s other 2016 activities in brief.

 

LTC Bullets

The Center for Long-Term Care Reform published a total of 48 LTC Bullets in 2016.

The Center endeavors every year to keep our members educated and updated about important news and developments bearing on long-term care financing policy.

Once a week, usually on Fridays, we publish our LTC Bullet.  The Bullets are often policy pieces, sort of like op-eds.  You can always find the five latest Bullets here and archives of all 1161 Bullets (so far), by date here and by topic here.  These articles are a valuable historical resource.  Please make use of them. 

Some highlights of our 2016 LTC Bullets include:

January The Long-Term Care Crisis:  Why Now But Not Yet?
February:  Three Cheers (But Two From the Bronx) for New BPC-LTC Recommendations
March The 16th Annual Inter-Company Long-Term Care Insurance Conference:  A Virtual Visit
April:  LTCI Defeatism
May LTCI Lapses Reconsidered
June LTC at a Crossroads
July The Senior Financial Security Program, Again
August New CLTCR Website Feature
September:  Claude Thau Has Your Back
October Who Isn’t Covered by Private Long-Term Care Insurance?
November The LTC Discussion Group and Marc Cohen’s Claimant Study Presentation
December:  So What If the Government Pays for Most LTC?, 2015 Data Update

 

LTC E-Alerts

Our LTC E-Alerts are a weekly compendium for regular Center members of the previous week’s LTC Clippings, described below.

The Center for Long-Term Care Reform published a total of 48 LTC E-Alerts in 2016.

LTC Clipping Service

Our LTC Clippings lift the burden of time-consuming research off the shoulders of LTC professionals whose time is better spent providing financial planning advice to clients, selling long-term care insurance, counseling borrowers on home equity conversion, or supplying any of the many other critical services our members provide. 

Center staff have to stay abreast of everything that’s happening in the popular and professional media.  We pore over tons of material so you don’t have to spend nearly as much time doing so.  We scan the print and electronic literature on long-term care services and financing every day.  We identify the articles, speeches and reports that we consider most important for Center members to read, hear or see.  Then we cite them by date, title and author; we provide a representative quote from the source; we give our “take” on what it means in our “LTC Comment;” and we send out approximately three “LTC Clippings” by email per work day.

Reading the LTC clippings on the go keeps your professional knowledge at a peak minute-by-minute.  They make a nice break from other duties.  And you’re probably more likely to read a few items per day than to go through the whole list of publications in the weekly LTC E-Alerts at a sitting.

We explained all the details and pricing for the LTC Clipping Service in LTC Bullet:  New LTC Clipping Service.  Check it out.  If you’d like to subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.

The Center for Long-Term Care Reform published a total of 584 LTC Clippings so far in 2016 or roughly 1.7 per calendar day and 2.3 per work day.  2016 was our fifth year offering the clipping service in real time. 

Season’s Greetings

All in all, 2016 was a challenging year for long-term care financing and for your Center.  We look forward to a better 2017 as the political ground becomes more fertile for public policy research and advocacy.  The pendulum is swinging back, away from expansion of government dependency and toward more personal responsibility.

We wish our many friends and members Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year.

The Center’s Clipping Service will continue without interruption and our research and advocacy continue unabated, but for everything else, we’ll see you next year.

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Updated, Monday, December 12, 2016, 9:53 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-048:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • MedPAC calls for nursing home pay cuts, revised PPS, in final meeting of 2016

  • Can simplification save protection?

  • The Tax Benefits of Long-Term Care Insurance

  • Combine Long-Term Care With Life Insurance? Do the Numbers First

  • Many high-need patients missing out on help with ADLs, report shows

  • Pre-retirees are terrified about health care costs

  • More LTC Policy Collapses

  • Older adults have a greater sense of well-being than younger ones

  • Alzheimer's screening that takes 5 minutes?

  • 7 clues from the House long-term care insurance hearing

  • Insurers’ Flawed Directories Leave Patients Scrambling For In-Network Doctors

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, December 9, 2016, 10:48 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  LTC PREDICTIONS

LTC Comment:  Yogi Berra said “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”  I should have listened.  Find out why after the ***news.***

*** TODAY'S LTC BULLET is sponsored by Claude Thau, a GA whose proprietary tools help advisors find clients and reduce the “Ping-Pong” in the LTCi sales process. Help clients make informed final decisions about buying LTCi in 15-20 minutes!  Gauge a client's true interest in a combo product immediately!  Change work-site LTCi sales from a series of proposal deliveries to a single interactive consultation!  Claude is the lead author of the Milliman Broker World LTCi Survey, one of Senior Market Advisor's 10 "Power People" in LTCi in 2007, a past Chair of the Center for Long-Term Care Financing. Test Claude by calling 800-999-3026, x2241 or email him at claudet@targetins.com to ask questions or get references. ***

*** 17TH ANNUAL INTERCOMPANY LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE CONFERENCE, themed this year “Navigating the Future” has announced:  “Early Bird discounts of up to $1,995 for Sponsors and Exhibitors have been extended through December 16th! We also offer a First Time Exhibitor/Sponsor Discount of $250 and a Non-Profit discount of $500.”  For details:  http://www.iltciconf.org/ The conference will convene March 26-29, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency in Jacksonville, FL. ***
 

LTC BULLET:  LTC PREDICTIONS

On November 14, 2008, ten days after the historic election of Barack Obama to be President of the United States, we published some predictions about the future of health and long-term care public policy.  Recently, a long-time Center friend and member, LTCI producer Jack Smelser, reminded me of those predictions, as he does every so often.  Today, we’d like to share the original predictions with you and explain how we think we did and how we would modify the predictions going forward.  Following is the original publication containing our predictions with our LTC Updates added in italics.   

When this LTC E-Alert was sent, I was about to complete a full year on the road in the Silver Bullet of Long-Term Care on the National Long-Term Care Consciousness Tour.  I was a little over 25,000 miles into that tour and visiting its 37th state.

Those were some pretty heady times.  Expectations were high that the new Administration could achieve many policy goals that had evaded politicians up to then.  (Kind of like now, though from a vastly different political perspective.)  I was dubious and tried to temper the enthusiasm.

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LTC E-Alert #8-110: LTC Predictions

Friday, November 14, 2008

Newport Beach, California (LTC Tour Mile 25,232; State #37)--

LTC Comment: Lately, I've heard some Panglossian prognostications about the future of health and LTC public policy.

People think the time has finally come for all they've worked for to be realized.

Universal health care?  Good as done.

Tax incentives for LTC insurance?  Section 125, at least, maybe above-the-line tax deductibility.

Recession?  [LTC Update:  We were right in the middle of the December 2007 to June 2009 “Great Recession.”]  Just the usual cycle that a "New, New Deal" will fix.

Sorry, but this looks to me like the victory of wishful thinking over hard economic reality.

So, I've decided to lay down a few markers.  What follows are predictions.  Not what I hope will happen.  Rather, what I expect to happen.

Read this now.  Then set it aside.  Tickle your calendar to read it again in five years and ten.  I will too.  Let's review then.

LTC PREDICTIONS

  1. No broad-based health reform will come to pass, much less reform that includes long-term care. 

LTC Update:  For eight years, it looked like I’d gotten half this prediction wrong.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, AKA “ObamaCare,” passed in 2010.  Its LTC section, the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (or CLASS Act) was repealed on January 1, 2013.  The new Congress and President elected on November 8, 2016 intend to repeal the rest of ObamaCare.  So, it’s taking a while, but it looks like I got this one right.  Whatever replaces ObamaCare is much more likely to rely on market forces than government control and micro-management.

  1. Another economic "stimulus" will fail as they all do, only shifting wealth, not creating it.

LTC Update:  Sure enough, “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) (Pub.L. 111–5), commonly referred to as The Stimulus or The Recovery Act,” which was supposed to pump $787 billion into “shovel ready” infrastructure projects was a huge flop mostly enriching friends and supporters of the new Administration.  The U.S. economy has yet to return to pre-Recession growth levels despite unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus.  Unfortunately, expect those same economic errors to continue until the next crash occurs.

  1. Huge increases in the federal deficit and debt will require additional borrowing to the point where interest on the public debt will crowd out new--and even much current-- social spending.

LTC Update:  I got this one mostly right.  According to FactCheck.org, during the Obama years:  “The federal debt has more than doubled — rising 116 percent — and big annual deficits have continued.” According to the National Debt Clock we’ll tip over $20 trillion soon.  The “crowd out” I predicted has not occurred to the level I expected . . . yet.  The reason is that the Federal Reserve forced interest rates to near zero enabling the Federal Government to deficit spend with carrying costs a fraction of what they were 20 years ago.  Interest on the national debt in 1996 was 6.58%, but only 2.42% in 2014.  Inevitably, reversion to the mean historical interest rates will sooner or later unleash major crowd out of social programs.

  1. The present economic crisis will worsen precipitating immediately problems with Social Security and Medicare unfunded liabilities ($102 trillion) that Pollyannas think we won't confront until 2041 and 2017 respectively.

LTC Update:  Thanks to trillions of dollars of money printing and bond buying by the Federal Reserve, the economic crisis didn’t worsen . . . yet.  But we’re experiencing the slowest post-recession recovery in American history.  The stage is set for a “Greater Recession” when the stock, bond and real estate bubbles created by Fed policy finally pop.  When?  I’ve predicted before that the reckoning could come anytime, but will come no later than when the perfect demographic storm occurs as boomers begin turning 85 in 2031.

  1. Several states will declare bankruptcy, or whatever they choose to call acknowledging their financial insolvency.

LTC Update:  Stay tuned.

  1. Medicare will cut reimbursements to skilled nursing facilities dramatically leaving the nursing home industry unable to meet even current standards of care access and quality for publicly financed patients.

LTC Update:  This prediction was too pessimistic.  Medicare is still on a glide path to insolvency, but doomsday is delayed due to the federal government’s fiscal and monetary shenanigans already described.

  1. Medicaid costs will skyrocket. After a one-time federal matching fund supplement, state and federal Medicaid programs will cut reimbursement, then benefits, and finally eligibility. Expect a new Deficit Reduction Act within five years that will make DRA '05 look like child's play.

LTC Update:  Ditto the update to Prediction #6 above.  The next DRA has been delayed indefinitely for reasons I explain in detail in our forthcoming report titled “Long-Term Care Financing:  The Myth and the Reality.”  So you’ll have to wait for the full explanation, but in a nutshell:  major reforms to target Medicaid to the needy and transfer LTC liability to the middle class and affluent usually occur shortly after economic recessions, but didn’t this time because of massive money printing, quantitative easing, and interest-rate manipulation by the Federal Reserve. 

  1. Medicaid will not increase funding for home and community-based services significantly and Medicaid financing of nursing home care will be dramatically reduced.

LTC Update:  Medicaid HCBS funding continues to increase rapidly while nursing facility spending has tapered off.  Medicaid reimbursements for home and institutional care remain below the cost of providing the care and continue to exacerbate access and quality problems.  When Fed monetary policy hits a wall, asset bubbles pop, and interest rates return to the historical normal (or higher), this prediction will come to pass.

  1. No new federal tax deductibility for LTC insurance will pass, not even Section 125.

LTC Update:  Unfortunately, I was right about this prediction.  But government policies to encourage LTC insurance will likely happen when Medicaid and Medicare finally have to retreat and more middle class and affluent elders need to turn to savings and home equity to fund their long-term care.  For why and when it will happen, see above.

  1. Middle class and affluent people will be far more personally responsible for their own long-term care in the future.

LTC Update:  Not yet, but this too is coming as explained.

  1. Within five years, reverse mortgages will become a major source of financing for long-term care.

LTC Update:  Oops, way too optimistic, but again, it would have happened if not for irresponsible fiscal and monetary policy and it will happen when those policies end—either through more responsible economic policy or due to market-induced imperatives.

  1. Within ten years, the market penetration of private long-term care insurance will have doubled at least.

LTC Update:  Ditto the update to prediction #11.

  1. The "New, New Deal" will prove as infeasible to finance as the old "New Deal," and the United States will slowly return to the principles that made our country great in the first place:  personal responsibility, self-sufficiency, free minds, free markets, competition and risk without moral hazard.

LTC Update:  Be patient; it’ll happen yet.

There you have them. Thirteen predictions. Unlucky? Maybe. But if everything plays out as I forecast, we'll come out all right in the end.

And with even a little luck, we'll preserve a vestige of the now-fraying social safety net for the most needy.

LTC Update:  It’s harder than ever to sustain an optimistic outlook.  Our political world is in chaos.  But whatever you may think of the incoming Administration, consider this:  The disastrous course we were on is no longer inevitable.  If we all redouble our efforts to promote rational long-term care policy and responsible LTC planning, hope springs eternal.

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Updated, Tuesday, December 6, 2016, 11:02 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  SO WHAT IF THE GOVERNMENT PAYS FOR MOST LTC?, 2015 DATA UPDATE

LTC Comment:  Heads up!  We're about to explain why long-term care insurance sales have disappointed, why people don't "use their homes to stay at home" and why LTC providers who depend on public financing are at risk. 
 

LTC BULLET:  SO WHAT IF THE GOVERNMENT PAYS FOR MOST LTC?, 2015 DATA UPDATE

LTC Comment:  Once a year around this time the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) report health care expenditure data for the latest year of record.  Recently, CMS posted 2015 statistics on its website here.

Health Affairs has published a summary and analysis of the new data titled “National Health Spending:  Faster Growth In 2015 as Coverage Expands and Utilization Increases."  Registered subscribers to Health Affairs can access the full text of that article here; the “Abstract” is available free.   

Following is our annual analysis of the latest nursing home and home health care data.*

Heads Up:  This may be the most important LTC Bullet we publish all year.  It is the fourteenth in a row we’ve done annually analyzing the federal government’s enormous, and we argue, often detrimental, impact on long-term care financing.  If you'd like to see the earlier versions, go here and search for “So What if the Government Pays for Most LTC.”  You’ll find our yearly analyses of the data going back to "So What If the Government Pays for Most LTC, 2002 Data Update."

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"So What If the Government Pays for Most LTC?, 2015 Data Update"
by
Stephen A. Moses

Ever wonder why LTC insurance sales and market penetration are so discouraging?  Or why reverse mortgages are rarely used to pay for long-term care?  Or why LTC service providers are always struggling to survive financially and still provide quality care?  Read on.

Nursing Homes

America spent $156.8 billion on nursing facilities and continuing care retirement communities in 2015.  The percentage of these costs paid by Medicaid and Medicare has gone up over the past 45 years (from 26.8% in 1970 to 55.7% in 2015, up 28.9 % of the total) while out-of-pocket costs have declined (from 49.2% in 1970 to 25.6% in 2015, down 23.6% of the total).  Source:  LINK.

So What?  Consumers' liability for nursing home and CCRC costs has declined by nearly half, down 48.0% in the past four decades while the share paid by Medicaid and Medicare has more than doubled, up 107.8%.

No wonder people are not as eager to buy LTC insurance as they would be if they were more at risk for the cost of their care!  No wonder they don't use home equity for LTC when Medicaid exempts at least $552,000 and in some states up to $828,000 of home equity (as of 1/1/17).  No wonder nursing homes are struggling financially--their dependency on parsimonious government reimbursements is increasing while their more profitable private payers are disappearing. 

Unfortunately, these problems are even worse than the preceding data suggest.  Over half of the so-called "out-of-pocket" costs reported by CMS are really just contributions toward their cost of care by people already covered by Medicaid!  These are not out-of-pocket costs in terms of ASSET spend down, but rather only INCOME, most of which comes from Social Security benefits, another financially struggling government program.  Thus, although Medicaid pays less than one-third of the cost of nursing home care (31.7% of the dollars in 2015), it covers nearly two-thirds (63%) of all nursing home residents.  Because people in nursing homes on Medicaid tend to be long-stayers, Medicaid pays something toward nearly 80 percent of all patient days. 

So What?  Medicaid pays in full or subsidizes almost four-fifths of all nursing home patient days.  Even if Medicaid pays nothing with the entire amount due contributed from the recipient's income, the nursing home receives Medicaid's dismally low reimbursement rate. 

No wonder the public is not as worried about nursing home costs as they would be if they were more at risk for the cost of their care.  No wonder nursing homes risk insolvency when so much of their revenue comes from Medicaid, often at reimbursement rates less than the cost of providing the care.  The 2015 national projected shortfall in Medicaid reimbursement is $22.46 per patient day and over $7 billion in total.  Source:  2015 Report on Shortfalls in Medicaid Funding for Nursing Center Care.

Private Health Insurance

Don't be fooled by the 8.6% of nursing home costs that CMS reports as having been paid by "private health insurance" in 2015.  That category does not include private long-term care insurance.  (See category definitions here.)  No one knows how much LTC insurance pays toward nursing home care, because many LTCI policies pay beneficiaries who then pay the nursing homes.  Thus, a large proportion of insurance payments for nursing home care gets reported as if it were "out-of-pocket" payments.  This fact further inflates the out-of-pocket figure artificially.

Assisted Living

How does all this affect assisted living facilities?  ALFs are 81% private pay (Source:  AHCA/NCAL Issue Brief) and they cost an average of $43,200 per year (Source:  Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey).  Many people who could afford assisted living by spending down their illiquid wealth, especially home equity, choose instead to take advantage of Medicaid nursing home benefits.  Medicaid exempts one home and all contiguous property (up to $552,000 or $828,000 depending on the state), plus—in unlimited amounts—one business, one automobile, prepaid burials, term life insurance, personal belongings and Individual Retirement Accounts not to mention wealth protected by sophisticated asset sheltering and divestment techniques marketed by Medicaid planning attorneys.  Income rarely interferes with Medicaid nursing home eligibility unless such income exceeds the cost of private nursing home care. 

So What?  For most people, Medicaid nursing home benefits are easy to obtain without spending down assets significantly and Medicaid's income contribution requirement is usually much less expensive than paying the full cost of assisted living. 

No wonder ALFs are struggling to attract enough private payers to be profitable.  No wonder people are not as eager to buy LTC insurance as they would be if they were more at risk for the cost of their care.  This problem has been radically exacerbated in recent years because more and more state Medicaid programs are paying for assisted living as well as nursing home care, which makes Medicaid eligibility more desirable than ever.

Home Health Care

The situation with home health care financing is very similar to nursing home financing.  According to CMS, America spent $88.8 billion on home health care in 2015.  Medicare (39.6%) and Medicaid (36.1%) paid 75.7% of this total and private insurance paid 10.6%.  Only 9.9% of home health care costs were paid out of pocket.  The remainder came from several small public and private financing sources.  Data source:  LINK.

So What?  Only one out of every ten dollars spent on home health care comes out of the pockets of patients and a large portion of that comes from the income (not assets) of people already on Medicaid.

No wonder the public does not feel the sense of urgency about this risk that they would if they were more at risk for the cost of their care

Bottom line, people only buy insurance against real financial risk.  As long as they can ignore the risk, avoid the premiums, and get government to pay for their long-term care when and if such care is needed, they will remain in denial about the need for LTC insurance.  As long as Medicaid and Medicare are paying for a huge proportion of all nursing home and home health care costs while out-of-pocket expenditures remain only nominal, nursing homes and home health agencies will remain starved for financial oxygen. 

The solution is simple.  Target Medicaid financing of long-term care to the needy and use the savings to fund education and tax incentives to encourage the public to plan early to be able to pay privately for long-term care.  For ideas and recommendations on how to implement this solution, see www.centerltc.com.

Note especially:

“CASSANDRA’S QUANDARY: The Future of Long-Term Care” (2016), at http://www.centerltc.com/pubs/FIA-Cassandra-Quandry.pdf.

“How to Fix Long-Term Care,” at http://www.centerltc.com/BriefingPapers/Overview.htm;

"Medi-Cal Long-Term Care:  Safety Net or Hammock?" at http://www.centerltc.com/pubs/Medi-Cal_LTC--Safety_Net_or_Hammock.pdf;  

"The LTC Graduate Seminar Transcript" here (requires password, contact smoses@centerltc.com);

"Aging America's Achilles' Heel:  Medicaid Long-Term Care" at http://www.centerltc.com/AgingAmericasAchillesHeel.pdf; and

"The Realist's Guide to Medicaid and Long-Term Care" at http://www.centerltc.org/realistsguide.pdf.

In the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Congress took some significant steps toward addressing these problems.  A cap was placed on Medicaid's home equity exemption and several of the more egregious Medicaid planning abuses were ended.  But much more remains to be done.  With the Age Wave starting to crest and threatening to crash over the next two decades, we can only hope it isn't too late already.

* Note that CMS changed the definition of National Health Expenditure Accounts (NHEA) categories in 2011, adding for example Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) to Nursing Care Facilities.  This change had the effect of reducing Medicaid's reported contribution to the cost of nursing home care from over 40% in 2008 to under one-third (32.8%) in 2009.  CMS also created a new category called "Other Third Party Payers" (7.1%) which includes "worksite health care, other private revenues, Indian Health Service, workers' compensation, general assistance, maternal and child health, vocational rehabilitation, other federal programs, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, other state and local programs, and school health."  For definitions of all NHEA categories, see http://www.cms.gov/NationalHealthExpendData/downloads/quickref.pdf. 

Stephen A. Moses is president of the Center for Long-Term Care Reform in Seattle, Washington.  The Center's mission is to ensure quality long-term care for all Americans.  Steve Moses writes, speaks and consults throughout the United States on long-term care policy.  Learn more at www.centerltc.com or email smoses@centerltc.com.

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Updated, Monday, December 5, 2016, 10:14 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-047:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • National Health Spending: Faster Growth In 2015 As Coverage Expands And Utilization Increases

  • Small Insurers’ Big Collapse Reflects Deep Industry Woes

  • Elder financial fraud may be worse than thought, study says

  • Federal workers cling to long-term care insurance

  • Preparing for the $30 trillion great wealth transfer

  • Genworth's CEO On The Future Of Long-Term Care Insurance, Public Coverage, And Going Private

  • The Human Freedom Index – 2016

  • The politics of why long-term care leaders are smiling

  • A long-term care plan for clients who have failed to plan

  • 3 Dumb Medicare Advantage Moves

  • The Perils of Too Much Relaxation in Assisted Living

  • Trump names Rep. Tom Price as next HHS secretary

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, December 2, 2016, 11:05 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

LTC Comment:  Like it or not, the U.S. political world has turned upside down.  LTC financing policy included.  What was possible before, isn’t.  What wasn’t, is?  So, what should we do about it?

 

LTC BULLET:  WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

LTC Comment:  Gale winds of change tipped over the political apple cart on November 8.  Risks are greater now, but so are opportunities.  Anything is possible again. 

For the past eight years, your Center for Long-Term Care Reform has engaged in a holding action.  Recognizing the political climate was not advantageous to achieve needed policy reforms, we focused on conducting fee-for-service studies.  Our two-fold goal was (1) to produce the evidence and arguments we’d need to prevail when the political winds were blowing our way again and (2) to keep the Center financially viable during a time of declining support from our traditional funding sources.

We achieved goal #1.  Since 2008, we’ve published 18 studies explaining the LTC financing problem and what needs to be done about it both nationally and in 12 key states, including California, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia.  Check our reports out here.  We definitely know what to do and how to do it.

That’s where goal #2 comes in.  Thanks to on-going financial support from stalwart Center members, including many LTCI carriers, distributors and producers, as well as some visionary LTC providers, we’ve kept the Center alive to re-engage the political fight for better LTC financing policy when the time is right again.  That time has arrived.

Your Center should turn away now from fund raising and fee-for-service work toward doing what needs to be done to achieve major LTC policy change.  That means writing for publication including op-eds and journal articles, contacting and educating key media sources, speaking at professional conferences, and working closely with national and state level legislators, policy makers, analysts and staff.  Those are the activities that result in concrete policy reform (and have done for us in the past).  Unfortunately, they are not activities that produce revenue, the life blood of any organization or movement.

Here’s our ask:  redouble your support for the Center so we can take advantage of these new opportunities in the realm of public policy reform.  If you’re a Center member, become a Premium Member.  If you’re a Premium Member, step up to Premier Elite status.  And if you are one of our critical corporate members, consider moving from Bronze to Silver to Gold or more.  If you’ve supported the Center up to now, the time has come to maximize and capitalize on your investment.  If you’re new, there’s never been a better time to invest in our work.

What is that work? 

Medicare and Medicaid financing of long-term care are in a death spiral.  Policies currently being pushed to expand and multiply government payment systems, including plans to create a new entitlement for long-term care, would hasten that inevitable collapse.  So, what do we need to do instead?  In a nutshell:  return Medicaid LTC financing to the truly needy and create much stronger incentives for everyone else to plan early and save, invest or insure for long-term care so they can pay privately for care when they need it. 

That’s our objective.  It really is as simple as that, although the details of passing legislation and implementing new policies become quite complicated.  Which is why it’s critical to publish, promulgate and promote the compelling evidence and reasoning we’ve spent decades developing and perfecting.  Help us do that.

In a political hurricane, it’s hard to say for sure which way the winds are blowing.  But one thing is certain:  everything in the policy world is up for grabs right now.  The best evidence, reasoning and recommendations can prevail.  But only if they’re articulated widely and compellingly.  That’s a job the Center for Long-Term Care Reform knows how to do.  We seek your support to do it.

At long last, we have a unique opportunity to fix LTC financing policy:  Seize it!

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Updated, Monday, November 28, 2016, 11:05 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-046:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Alone and Aging: Creating A Safety Net for Isolated Seniors

  • Occupational therapy may not delay Alzheimer's decline, SNF admission

  • Baby Boomers Relax. It Probably Isn’t Dementia

  • Lilly’s Bet on Alzheimer’s

  • Health insurers may pay for long-term care insurer failures

  • Many Medicare cancer patients hit by high out-of-pocket costs

  • Eli Lilly Alzheimer’s Drug Fails Trial

  • Majority of LTC residents turn down dental care, study finds

  • Major changes for Medicaid coming under Trump and the GOP

  • U.S. Dementia Rates Are Dropping Even as Population Ages

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Monday, November 21, 2016, 10:42 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-045:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • 5 Trump group long-term care insurance plan facts

  • Investigation finds widespread abuse of the disabled

  • Veterans Often Miss Out on the Long-Term Care Benefits They Deserve

  • They’re Growing Older. Their Mortgage Debt Is Growing Deeper.

  • Health savings accounts are a crown jewel of ‘Trump care’

  • ACSIA Partners Seeks 150 New Agents to Serve Growing Segments of Its Long-Term Care Planning Business

  • Column: Who’s paying the true cost of Medicare

  • Expect Medicaid to Change, but Not Shrivel, Under Donald Trump

  • Mutual of Omaha stands by long-term care insurance

  • Think you’re prepared for retirement? Answer these 6 questions

  • New children's book explains Alzheimer's disease through art

  • Study: Many Caregivers Spend $7K Annually Out Of Pocket

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, November 18, 2016, 11:55 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC Bullet:  Long-Term Care News and Analysis

LTC Comment:  Center for Long-Term Care Reform Premium members have the option to receive our LTC Clipping Service and weekly LTC E-Alerts newsletters.  Today, we’d like to share a sample of these members-only services with a wider audience.  Our topic is the news this week, so we’ll keep our ***news*** section brief and get straight to the point.

*** ILTCI CONFERENCE UPDATE:   We’re looking forward to the 17th Annual Inter-Company Long-Term Care Insurance Conference, which will convene March 26 to 29, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency in Jacksonville, Florida.   Click here to read their most recent announcement including their keynote speaker selection, information on their Predictive Modeling Workshop and details regarding sponsor and exhibitor early bird discounts. See you in Jacksonville! ***


LTC Bullet:  Long-Term Care News and Analysis

Many Center for Long-Term Care Reform Premium members are familiar with our LTC Clipping Service, and from what we hear, get great value from this benefit of Premium membership.

For those who don’t already know, our LTC Clipping Service is an excellent way to stay on top of current and critical long-term care news without having to spend hours a day researching on the internet.  We send our Clipping Service subscribers an average of 2-3 emails per workday with a must-read-article link, a pull quote and some brief analysis.  We’re sensitive to the fact that we all receive too many emails, so we’re very careful to send along only the most important LTC news items. 

As an added benefit and for convenient reference, we keep a running archive of the clippings we send in our new LTC Clippings Archive, dating back to January 2016.  This archive is organized by LTC-related subject and sub-category.  While CLTCR Premium members will continue to receive their LTC Clippings in real time, they and Individual members, have access to the Clippings Archive through our Members-Only Zone website.  Here’s a breakdown of the Archive’s subject categories: 

  • INSURANCE (Long-Term Care Insurance, Critical Illness Insurance, Hybrid and Miscellaneous [including alternative financing solutions])
  • LONG-TERM CARE (General, Cost, Assisted Living, Nursing Homes, Home Care, Caregiving, Veterans Affairs and Government Solutions)
  • MEDICAID (General and Medicaid Planning and Crowd-Out Effect)
  • MEDICARE (and Medi-Gap and Medicare Advantage)
  • SOCIAL SECURITY
  • ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE
  • POLITICS, LEGISLATION AND PUBLIC POLICY
  • ECONOMICS, DEMOGRAPHICS AND DATA
  • RETIREMENT PLANNING
  • HEALTH AND HEALTHCARE
  • OTHER

If you’re reading this, chances are you play a valuable role in protecting people from the risk and cost of long-term care and to that end we think the Clipping Service allows our subscribers to be more effective doing so.  Based on their feedback, we think our subscribers feel the same.  For example:

I depend on the clipping service to keep me abreast of all LTC breaking news. It is a huge time-saver and contributes to my overall sense of confidence and knowledge as a LTCi specialist. I really think the service gives me an “edge,” and helps keep me one step ahead of my competitors. Conveying the insights I gain from the clipping service often enables me to more easily and relevantly educate my clients on the importance of LTCi ownership. -- Honey Leveen

Your clipping service is the best.  I seldom give out insurance company brochures to prospects, much preferring the third party endorsement of published articles that are far more believable than an insurance company brochure.  The news does a great job of creating urgency to act as well.  You bundle them and send to my inbox for me to use, wonderful!  I’m speaking to a group at lunch today and will be handing out an article that was published two days ago that you alerted me to.  Keep up the good work, saves me time, and makes me money. -- Romeo Raabe

Please find below a sample collection of clippings we’ve sent to our Clipping Service subscribers over the past two weeks.  Read through them and if you think that receiving news items like these in real time would be valuable to you, please consider subscribing at the Premium membership level.  By doing so, you can stay on the forefront of professional knowledge and help us fight for rational long-term care policy reform.  

Contact Damon at 206-283-7036 / damon@centerltc.com to start your Premium Membership immediately or go directly to our secure online subscription page and sign up for as little as $21 per month.

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11/17/2016, “ACSIA Partners Seeks 150 New Agents to Serve Growing Segments of Its Long-Term Care Planning Business,” PR Newswire

Quote:  “The long-term care insurance market seems to be in turmoil thanks to rate increases, waning consumer demand, and carriers exiting the business. Pessimism prevails, but not for ACSIA Partners, one of America's largest long-term care insurance agencies.

“The company is not immune to the industry turmoil. ‘Our traditional business, individual LTC insurance, has temporarily levelled off,’ she says, ‘but it's still substantial and continuing; and two new segments are surging: hybrid care solutions and worksite plans.’”   

LTC Comment:  Earlier this week we saw one major player in long-term care insurance maintain its commitment to the LTCI market.  Now, another company is “quite bullish” on the prospects for traditional LTCI, hybrid products and group LTC plans, according to this press release.

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11/16/2016, “Column: Who’s paying the true cost of Medicare,” by Philip Moeller, PBS Newshour

Quote: “During 2014, the most recent full year covered by official government reports, nearly $600 billion flowed into Medicare and an even larger amount flowed out — $613 billion. Of this $600 billion, how much do you think came from payroll taxes? If you said less than half, you get to keep playing the Medicare money game. Medicare collected $227 billion in payroll taxes in 2014, or about 38 percent of its revenues. That leaves $373 billion unaccounted for. Premiums represent our dollars, too, so perhaps adding what we pay in Medicare premiums will justify the notion that we pay for Medicare. What do you think? Sixty percent? Fifty? Forty? Thirty? How about 21.5 percent, which translates into $80 billion in Medicare premiums.

“As health care hurtles toward such game-changing capabilities, however, consumer empowerment lags far behind. To date, there is little evidence that we pay much attention. Studies show that when consumers do know the true costs of health care, they don’t engage in comparison shopping so much as simply cut back their use of health care.”

LTC Comment:  Who pays the true cost of Medicare?  That’s a truly nebulous question that yields myriad answers and implications.  Many people rely on the solvency of Medicare, but one particularly vulnerable group--nursing homes (and their residents)--depend on it to make up for low Medicaid reimbursements.

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11/15/2016, “Expect Medicaid to Change, but Not Shrivel, Under Donald Trump,” by Robert Pear, New York Times

Quote:  “Without even waiting for legislation, the Trump administration is almost certain to give states more leeway to run their Medicaid programs as they wish, federal and state officials say.  A number of states have already proposed co-payments and work requirements for people on Medicaid.  In an effort to protect beneficiaries, the Obama administration has limited the use of co-payments and has not allowed work requirements. But state officials say that such changes are likely to be allowed in some form in a Trump administration.

LTC Comment:  With block grants, co-payments and work requirements on the table, maybe the new administration will also consider reducing Medicaid LTC’s home equity exemption from a maximum of $828,000 and putting some limits on currently unlimited exempt assets such as a business, car, IRAs, home furnishings, personal belongings, etc.

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11/15/2016, “Mutual of Omaha stands by long-term care insurance,” by Allison Bell, LifeHealthPRO

Quote: “A major long-term care insurance issuer is reaffirming its commitment to the long-term care insurance market.

“‘We believe that LTCI provides value through product profitability and company diversification,’ Walling writes. ‘The product aligns with our mission to help our customers protect what they care about and achieve their financial goals.’ The aging of the U.S. population should continue to help the market for long-term care insurance grow, and Mutual of Omaha believes there is no viable government-provided alternative, Walling says. [Emphasis added.]

“Another player in the market, LifeSecure Insurance Co. of Brighton, Michigan, ended sales of new individual long-term care insurance products Oct. 31, but it's staying in the multi-life long-term care insurance market.

“‘LifeSecure has always been an impassioned advocate of LTCI, and we remain optimistic about the future of this very important product line,’ the company says in a memo sent to producers in October. “We believe that there continues to be a growing need for LTCI and LTC planning in general.’”

LTC Comment:  Win some, lose some.  However, the take-home message here is “there is no viable government-provided alternative” to private long-term care insurance.

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11/14/2016, “Think you’re prepared for retirement? Answer these 6 questions.,” by , The Washington Post

Quote:  Many Baby Boomers are not prepared for retirement, so they need to get much more savvy about their financial lives, and quickly ‘if they’re going to have some peace of mind and security during retirement,’ says Carla Dearing, CEO of SUM180, an online financial planning service. To make sure you are ready, she suggest that you answer these six questions.”

LTC Comment:  We’d like to add:

7. Have you considered how to pay for quality long-term care services when the time comes that you may need to?  Some form of long-term care insurance can be used as "portfolio insurance" in order to protect the nest eggs of retirement planners and ensure quality care when an insurable event occurs.

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11/14/2016, “Study: Many Caregivers Spend $7K Annually Out Of Pocket,” by Rachel Bluth, Kaiser Health News

Quote:  “Denise Sleeper has sold her home, spent most of her retirement savings and quit her job to care for her husband since his Alzheimer’s disease struck two years ago.  . . .  She’s drained $168,000 from the couple’s retirement account since her husband, Scott, was diagnosed with the degenerative illness. At first, she cared for him at home, but he’s in a nursing home now. Sleeper gets by on his disability checks and the $32,000 left in their 401k.

LTC Comment:  This anecdote is either a fabrication or the family self-impoverished voluntarily or through ignorance of the law.  Medicaid pays for LTC, exempts the home up to at least $552K, and protects up to $119,220 for the community spouse.  But then, consider the source:  AARP.  The right take-away from this article is that caretakers do spend a lot of money and time to keep loved ones out of Medicaid nursing homes, which is why everyone should plan, save, invest or insure for LTC risk and cost early.

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11/10/2016, “Trump Medicaid plan could force service cuts, higher taxes,” by John W. Schoen, CNBC

Quote:  “Both Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have proposed giving states fixed payments called block grants instead of covering a share of the cost of delivering health care to low-income families.”

LTC Comment:  So far, so good.  Here’s one of the recommendations in our new report titled “Long-Term Care Financing:  The Myth and the Reality”:  “[T]he best approach is to permit individual states to experiment with alternative methods of Medicaid long-term care eligibility determination.  Block granting Medicaid would achieve that objective.  Allowing states to receive federal support for their long-term care programs with fewer strings attached would encourage them to try many different approaches.”  Obviously, we disagree with this article’s assertion that Medicaid block grants would increase costs and decrease services.  Just the opposite will occur.

------------------

11/10/2016, “Blueprint for Reform: A Comprehensive Policy Agenda for a New Administration in 2017,” Heritage Foundation

Quote:  “Blueprint for Reform: A Comprehensive Policy Agenda for a New Administration in 2017
With contributions from various Heritage team members
The Heritage Foundation published a three-part Mandate for Leadership Series of documents over the course of 2016.  Each document educates the American public, specifically including Congress, the new American President, and the new President’s team. All three parts deliver a clear, unified policy vision for Congress and the President to preserve and create opportunities to enable all Americans provide for their families, contribute to their communities, and pursue their dreams.”

LTC Comment:  What was only a pipe dream two days ago, the Heritage Foundation’s master plan has traction in this topsy-turvy new political world.

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11/10/2016, John Hancock ceases sales of traditional long-term-care insurance policies,” by Greg Iacurci, InvestmentNews

Quote: “John Hancock Life Insurance Co. announced Thursday that it will discontinue the sale of individual long-term-care insurance policies starting next year, in yet the most recent blow to an industry that's struggled to overcome the barriers of low interest rates and negative consumer sentiment. The company, among the top three in market share for traditional long-term-care insurance, will no longer issue new policies after February 2017, according to a memo sent to distribution partners and producers. ‘After a recent analysis of the macro-economic trends facing the long-term care (LTC) insurance industry, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue sales of our individual LTC insurance policies in all states,’ the memo stated.”

LTC Comment: Thanks due to LTC Clippings subscriber, Bruce Moon, for alerting us to this development.

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11/9/2016, “Trump presidency promises long-term care changes,” by Elizabeth Leis Newman, McKnight's LTC News b

Quote:  “While Trump's healthcare agenda lacked detail, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has an extensive plan, [Cynthia] Morton [National Association for the Support of Long Term Care Executive Vice President] noted. Agendas can move quickly with a unified House, Senate and White House, she added. Ryan has long had a policy goal of reining in entitlement spending, she continued.”

LTC Comment:  Too early to prognosticate, but one thing’s for sure.  The whole deck for LTC services and financing may be reshuffled . . . or not.  Who wants to predict in the aftermath of the unpredictable? 

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11/7/2016, “Kindred to Exit the Skilled Nursing Facility Business,” by Tim Mullaney, Home Health Care News

Quote:  “The nation’s largest home health and hospice provider is betting even more on this side of the business, announcing Monday that it will entirely cease to own or operate skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).”

LTC Comment:  The LTC provider business continues its transition from institutional to home care.  Only time will tell whether Medicaid’s notoriously low reimbursement rates can sustain access and quality of home care (which people want) when it was inadequate even for nursing home care (which people prefer to avoid.)

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11/8/2016, “Make long-term-care insurance equal portfolio insurance,” by Ken Moraif, MarketWatch

Quote: “Your level of health can change drastically as you age. You may get ill. You may become disabled. Your mental capacity could change. These are unfortunate realities of life and they're very, very expensive, which is why I encourage my clients to consider long-term care insurance, even though my firm does not sell it. Since November is Long-term-Care Awareness month, I'd like to take this opportunity to encourage readers to think about long-term care insurance — or "portfolio insurance" as I like to think of it—too.”

LTC Comment:  In our LTC Clippings, we occasionally mention using LTCi to offset the catastrophic financial risk and cost of long-term care in order to allow retirement planners to direct their resources elsewhere, giving them the peace of mind of knowing they won’t lose their nest egg if an insurable event occurs.  Here’s a CFP—who does not sell long-term care insurance—that espouses a similar mentality:  LTCi as "portfolio insurance."

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11/7/2016, “** BREAKING: Federal judge blocks nursing-home arbitration ban **,” by James M. Berklan, McKnight's Long-Term Care News

Quote: “The American Health Care Association has succeeded in achieving at least a temporary halt to the government's ban on nursing homes' pre-dispute arbitration clauses. Judge Michael Mills said in a 40-page decision released Monday morning that while there might be sympathy for consumers' belief that such clauses might not be in their best interests, a solution lies with Congress, not a federal agency overstepping its authority. This echoes AHCA's argument against the ban, and for an injunction.”

LTC Comment:  Breaking news on the LTC arbitration ban.

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11/4/2016, “Seniors Suffer Amid Widespread Fraud by Medicaid Caretakers,” Kaiser Health News

Quote:  “An Alaska man developed gangrenous toes. A Philadelphia woman froze to death on the street. An Illinois woman died emaciated, covered in excrement.  These patients suffered as their government-paid caretakers neglected them, collecting paychecks under a Medicaid program that gives elderly and disabled people non-medical assistance at home. In some cases, the caretakers convicted of neglect were the victims' own family members.  The Personal Care Services program, which exceeded $14.5 billion in fiscal year 2014, is rife with financial scams, some of which threaten patient safety, according to a recent report from the Office of lnspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”

LTC Comment:  Remember that Boston College Center for Retirement Research (BCCRR) report that concluded people don’t need private LTCI because Medicaid is the preferred choice?  You couldn’t ask for a better refutation of the idiotic conclusion than this article.

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Updated, Monday, November 14, 2016, 9:22 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-044:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Trump Medicaid plan could force service cuts, higher taxes

  • Blueprint for Reform: A Comprehensive Policy Agenda for a New Administration in 2017

  • Carson, Gingrich receive buzz to be HHS Secretary under Trump

  • Trump presidency promises long-term care change

  • John Hancock ceases sales of traditional long-term-care insurance policies

  • 5 Trump-era health policy losers, and 5 possible winners

  • Kindred to Exit the Skilled Nursing Facility Business

  • Make long-term-care insurance equal portfolio insurance

  • ** BREAKING: Federal judge blocks nursing-home arbitration ban **

  • Voting with dementia

  • Seniors Suffer Amid Widespread Fraud by Medicaid Caretakers

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Monday, November 7, 2016, 11:28 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-043:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Genworth says higher LTCI rates beat liquidation

  • Senate Committee Floats Idea of New Medicare Code for Alzheimer’s Planning

  • Aging alone: If you’re a single, childless senior who has your back?

  • The Next President’s Financial Imperative: Fixing Social Security

  • 3 new fears about the long-term care planning gap

  • CNO and CNA open blinds on LTCI performance

  • Four Keys To A Happy Retirement

  • Loneliness may predict Alzheimer’s disease, suggests a new study

  • Majority of Consumers Nearing or in Retirement Have Not Planned for Long-Term Care

  • Americans Are Dying Faster. Millennials, Too

  • The Big Winners and Losers in America’s Social Security System

  • Health Law Tax Penalty? I’ll Take It, Millions Say

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, November 4, 2016, 10:16 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC Bullet:  The LTC Discussion Group and Marc Cohen’s Claimant Study Presentation

LTC Comment:  Last week’s Long-Term Care Discussion Group meeting was an excellent example of an industry’s self-awareness and dedication to protecting people from the risks and costs of long-term care.  Details follow after the ***news.***

*** FOR THOSE WHO DON’T ALREADY KNOW: 2017 LTCI tax deductibility limits published:

10/25/2016, “Increased 2017 Tax Deduction Limits for Traditional Long Term Care Insurance Announced,” by AALTCI

Quote: “The tax deductible limits for traditional long-term care insurance premiums paid in 2017 increased according to a just-released IRS announcement. ‘The tax deductibility of premiums when you purchase traditional long-term care insurance provides a real incentive for consumers, especially after retirement,’ explains Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).   ‘The special tax advantages are not available when individuals purchase linked-benefit products such as life insurance or annuity policies that can provide a future long-term care benefit.’” 

LTC Comment: We’ve updated these numbers in our Members-Only Zone here, where you will also find tax deductibility limits for each year back to 1997. If you need your user name and password contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com. ***

*** CLTCR Premium Membership  --  Center for Long-Term Care Reform premium members receive our full suite of individual membership benefits including: 

  • All LTC Bullets and E-Alerts
  • Access to our Members-Only Zone website, Almanac of Long-Term Care and Clipping Service Archive
  • Subscription to our Clipping Service
  • Email/phone access to Steve Moses for 24-hour turnaround queries

Our Premium Membership is designed to give you a competitive advantage in your long-term care profession. Your increased knowledge of the critical issues and challenges we face in the field of long-term care service delivery and financing equals improved professional success for you and better LTC services for your clients and for those who have no choice but to rely on scarce public resources. 

Stay on the forefront of professional knowledge and help us fight for rational long-term care policy reform by contacting Damon at 206-283-7036 / damon@centerltc.com to start your Premium Membership immediately or go directly to our secure online subscription page and sign up for as little as $21 per month. ***


LTC Bullet:  The LTC Discussion Group and Marc Cohen’s Claimant Study Presentation

According to their website, “The Long Term Care Discussion Group is a voluntary, independent group that meets for the purpose of educating the policy community on all facets of long term care.”  The purpose of last week’s meeting was to discuss the findings of a recent study conducted by LifePlans, Inc.:  Experience and Satisfaction Levels of Long-Term Care Insurance Customers: A Study of Long-Term Care Insurance Claimants.  This informative discussion featured speaker, Marc Cohen, Ph.D., who carefully and clearly reviewed the findings of the study.   

Here’s why they conducted the study:
 

More than seven million Americans have long-term care (LTC) insurance, and more than a quarter million are receiving benefits. As claims grow, a key question emerges: What is their actual experience as they seek benefits under their policies? Insureds applying for or receiving benefits—claimants—may actually be viewed as the ultimate customers of LTC insurance. After all, they are the individuals who are experiencing and utilizing the benefits that their policies promise to provide. To gauge customer experience and satisfaction levels of LTC insurance policyholders, it is important to look at claimants. To that end, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) commissioned LifePlans, Inc., to conduct a study of claimant experience with LTC insurance. 

And an overview:
 

In this recently released study, Experience and Satisfaction Levels of Long-Term Care Insurance Customers: A Study of Long-Term Care Insurance Claimants, LifePlans, Inc. surveyed a cross-sectional sample of claimants in 2015 and 2016 to ascertain their experience with the claim filing process; their views about their coverage; the influence they believe it has on their use of services; the quality of the care they are receiving; and their overall level of satisfaction with their policy. The study also uncovers the relationship between policy characteristics and people’s level of satisfaction. Finally, the study provides an aggregate profile of in-force policyholders’ coverage. Where possible, findings in this study are compared with those from a 2005 Department of Health and Human Services study that looked at individuals who were beginning to receive benefits.

LTC Comment:  The LTCi industry is comprised of talented people who devote themselves to protecting others from the risks and costs of long-term care.  Many people are drawn to the industry by way of personal long-term care experiences and genuinely want to help others prepare responsibly for the challenges associated with aging.  This study of LTC insurance claimants and its resulting Long-Term Care Discussion Group meeting are no exception and reflect professionals in an industry that seek to improve the claims experience via self-analysis.  For doing so, we wish to thank Marc Cohen and the Long-Term Care Discussion Group Co-Chairs:  Susan Coronel, John Cutler, Hunter McKay (ex-officio), Karl Polzer, Jill Randolph, and Eileen J. Tell.

Those interested in further details and actual findings can access the discussion’s PowerPoint PDF here.  We encourage you to do so and to get familiar with the Long-Term Care Discussion Group if you’re not already.  They do meaningful work, provide a valuable service and are very inclusive, providing free membership that is open to all.  Learn more by visiting their website at http://www.ltcdiscussiongroup.org and get on-board with their “monthly presentations exploring long term care policy, research, and advocacy issues.”

 

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Updated, Monday, October 31, 2016, 10:16 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-042:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • 3 Things That Spook Retirees (and How to Stop Them from Scaring You)

  • This Startup Is An Airbnb For Assisted Living Patients

  • Where the Elderly Die Can Vary by Region, Study Shows

  • China Oceanwide may regret throwing Genworth a lifeline

  • Genworth's would-be buyer helped build modern China

  • 3 Steps to Financial Independence after You’ve Saved your Emergency Fund

  • Genworth Deal: No Relief for Agents, Policyholders

  • Nurse practitioners improve transfer process, reduce errors, study finds

  • Increased 2017 Tax Deduction Limits for Traditional Long Term Care Insurance Announced

  • Antipsychotics raise risk of pneumonia in residents with Alzheimer's

  • Researchers Take First Steps Toward A Preventative Alzheimer's Pill

  • Genworth’s Lost Decade Ends in $2.7 Billion China Deal: Timeline

#############################

"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, October 28, 2016, 9:00 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC Bullet:  FEE for Service

LTC Comment:  Not fee, but FEE, or the Foundation for Economic Education.  Learn about this inimitable source of information on liberty and free market economics after the ***news.***

*** CLTCR Premium Membership  --  Center for Long-Term Care Reform premium members receive our full suite of individual membership benefits including:  our LTC Bullets and E-Alerts; access to our Members-Only Zone website and Almanac of Long-Term Care; subscription to our Clipping Service; and email/phone access to Steve Moses for 24-hour turnaround queries.  Our Premium Membership is designed to give you a competitive advantage in your long-term care profession. Your increased knowledge of the critical issues and challenges we face in the field of long-term care service delivery and financing equals improved professional success for you and better LTC services for your clients and for those who have no choice but to rely on scarce public resources.  Premium Membership is $250 per year, paid up front or monthly by automatically recurring credit card payments.  Contact Damon at 206-283-7036 / damon@centerltc.com to start your Premium Membership immediately or go directly to our secure online subscription page and sign up for as little as $21 per month. ***

*** 2017 LTCI TAX DEDUCTIBILITY LIMITS PUBLISHED: 

10/25/2016, “Increased 2017 Tax Deduction Limits for Traditional Long Term Care Insurance Announced,” by AALTCI

Quote: “The tax deductible limits for traditional long-term care insurance premiums paid in 2017 increased according to a just-released IRS announcement. ‘The tax deductibility of premiums when you purchase traditional long-term care insurance provides a real incentive for consumers, especially after retirement,’ explains Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).   ‘The special tax advantages are not available when individuals purchase linked-benefit products such as life insurance or annuity policies that can provide a future long-term care benefit.’” 

Attained age before the close of the taxable year

Maximum deduction for year

40 or less

$410

More than 40 but not more than 50

$770

More than 50 but not more than 60

$1,530

More than 60 but not more than 70

$4,090

More than 70

$5,110

LTC Comment: We’ve updated these numbers in our Members-Only Zone here, where you will also find tax deductibility limits for each year back to 1997. If you need your user name and password contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com. ***

 

LTC BULLET:  FEE FOR SERVICE

LTC Comment:  Regular readers of LTC Bullets have probably discerned a tendency.  When we seek a cause for some problem, we tend to find it in one form or another of government interference in the marketplace.  When we recommend solutions, we tend to find them in reducing the role of government and unleashing the free market. 

Is this ideological bias?  Not if it is grounded in solid evidence and provable theory.

What is the evidence that free markets produce better results than centralized government planning and control?  All you need to do is open your eyes.  Authoritarianism fails to produce plenty everywhere it is tried.  Examples are legion.  The link between economic freedom and prosperity is well substantiated and undeniable.

What is the theory behind this link?  Pretty simple really.  Free consumers voting for what they want with their own money make better decisions for themselves and for the economy than government bureaucrats make when they’re spending other people’s money.  People spending their own money produce the information in aggregate that investors need to target their capital to projects and products that benefit everyone.  Bureaucrats spending other people’s money are prone to invest in boondoggles. 

If the evidence and the theory are conclusive, why do people and governments keep making the same mistakes?  Why do politicians keep promising something for nothing?  Why are people and voters repeatedly suckered by the same promises?  The answers inhere in the questions.  People want something for nothing and politicians are eager to benefit personally by promising it to them.

Are we doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes in perpetuity?   Probably, but not necessarily.  There are two ways to break this cycle.  One is to return government to its original limited role as prescribed by the Constitution.  Don’t hold your breath.  The other is to hammer home daily and persuasively the aforementioned evidence and theory about free markets and the freedom philosophy.  That’s where FEE comes in.

The Foundation for Economic Freedom (www.fee.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching the principles of a free society.  Today, FEE focuses on bringing freedom as a life philosophy to a wide audience, striving to bring about a world in which the economic, ethical, and legal principles of a free society are familiar and credible. 

“FEE Daily” publishes several brief articles that substantiate the fallacy of relying on government and the power of freedom in all aspects of life.  This online resource is free for the asking.  Just go to www.fee.org, scroll to the bottom, enter your email address and click on “Subscribe.” 

Here are some articles featured in recent FEE Dailys:

“There Is No Such Thing As Trickle-Down Economics” by Steven Horwitz:  The point is not to transfer wealth up and down but rather to create universal opportunity. No market advocate ever used this phrase. That's for a reason. It's not what we favor.  Read Now

“Special Interests May Kill Free Online Courses,” by Walter Olson: The Berkeley case proves that there is nothing that is so beneficial that government won't try to ruin it. If the DOJ and special interest bullies get their way, MOOCs could become a thing of the past.  Read Now

“New Zealand's Remarkable Economic Transformation,” by Daniel J. Mitchell:  We so rarely see dramatic change toward freedom in modern democracies. New Zealand is a beautiful exception. New Zealand privatized, cut the budget, reduced taxes, and generally freed up enterprise, and just look at the wonderful results.  Read Now

“Politicians, Please Stop ‘Helping’ the Disabled,” by Jeffrey A. Tucker:  Government is the least likely institution to help the disabled. Indeed, the reverse is true, and a century of evidence proves it. Every new regulation, every new mandate, makes it harder for disabled people to live normal lives.”   Read Now

LTC Comment:  That’s enough of a sampling to give you the flavor.  These articles address critical, often politically sensitive, issues with ingenuity, evidence, theory and humor.  Whether you agree or not, you will find yourself thinking in fresh new ways.  If you pick one of the six articles on offer each day to read and consider, I believe you’ll find it harder and harder to accept promises from government or criticism of free markets.

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Updated, Monday, October 24, 2016, 10:12 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-041:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • China Oceanwide to Buy Genworth Financial for $2.7 Billion

  • Washington state gets green light for Medicaid, LTSS overhaul

  • As long term care prices soar, majority accept higher premiums or cut coverage

  • The great divide appears to be narrowing

  • Physical therapists in LTC see higher wage increases than those in hospitals, home health

  • Assisted living increasingly a lawsuit target, attorney says

  • Renovators want homeowners to think big about aging

  • How retirees on Social Security can stay afloat despite tiny COLA

  • Lawsuit Takes on CMS Over Arbitration Ban in Long-Term Care

  • The Fed Destroyed US Boomers' Retirement Dreams

  • The Future of Retirement Communities: Walkable and Urban

  • Medicaid benefits for long-term care for the middle class

  • If You're Thinking About Assisted Living for Your Parents

#############################

"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, October 21, 2016, 10:03 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC Bullet:  Who Isn’t Covered by Private Long-Term Care Insurance?

LTC Comment:  Who is not covered by private LTCI is a much more interesting question, and harder to answer, than who is covered as we’ll explain after the ***news.***

*** CLTCR Premium Membership  --  Center for Long-Term Care Reform premium members receive our full suite of individual membership benefits including: 

  • All LTC Bullets and E-Alerts
  • Access to our Members-Only Zone website and Almanac of Long-Term Care
  • Subscription to our Clipping Service
  • Email/phone access to Steve Moses for 24-hour turnaround queries

Our Premium Membership is designed to give you a competitive advantage in your long-term care profession. Your increased knowledge of the critical issues and challenges we face in the field of long-term care service delivery and financing equals improved professional success for you and better LTC services for your clients and for those who have no choice but to rely on scarce public resources. 

Stay on the forefront of professional knowledge and help us fight for rational long-term care policy reform by contacting Damon at 206-283-7036 / damon@centerltc.com to start your Premium Membership immediately or go directly to our secure online subscription page and sign up for as little as $21 per month. ***

 

LTC BULLET:  WHO ISN’T COVERED BY PRIVATE LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE?

LTC Comment:  A recent (August 2016) “brief” titled “Who Is Covered by Private Long-Term Care Insurance?,” by Richard W. Johnson of the Urban Institute, offers some interesting data and observations in answer to his title’s question.  For example:

“In 2014, 11 percent of adults ages 65 and older living in community settings were covered by long-term care insurance (figure 1), corresponding to about 5 million people.” (p. 2)

“Private long-term care insurance coverage rises with wealth, because wealthier people are better able to afford coverage than those with less wealth.”  (p. 3)

Mr. Johnson concludes:  “Private long-term care insurance is not the best way to finance LTSS for every older adult. People with limited financial resources and pre-existing health conditions, for example, may always have to rely on public programs like Medicaid.  However, expanded long-term care insurance coverage could protect many middle- and upper-income older Americans from catastrophic LTSS expenses.”  (p. 5)

LTC Comment:  These are not very profound observations or conclusions.  Wealthier people are more likely to buy LTCI?  Well, yeah. 

LTCI isn’t for everyone including poor people who need public welfare?  OK, sure. 

Expanded LTCI coverage could protect many more middle- and upper-income people?  Great!  That’s a welcome and very unusual admission for someone representing the Urban Institute.

But the far more interesting question is why don’t “many middle- and upper-income older Americans” buy LTC insurance?

The answer to that question is hidden in Johnson’s paper but you have to identify his fallacious assumptions about Medicaid LTC eligibility to find it.

For example, he writes:  “Medicaid covers only those people with severe LTSS needs who have virtually no assets other than their home or have already spent nearly all of their wealth on LTSS.”  (p. 1)

If that were true, many more people would worry about long-term care, plan for it, and buy LTCI.  But it is not true.

First, there is no requirement in federal or state law or regulations that people must spend down for long-term care.  They can spend their money for anything they want as long as they receive fair market value in exchange.  That’s why Medicaid planning attorneys offer advice like this:

Another sheltering strategy is to convert available, countable assets into noncountable exempt assets.  For example, money in checking or savings accounts may be used, without creating a period of ineligibility, to purchase or improve a home, pay off a mortgage, buy a cemetery lot, pre-pay funeral services, pre-pay residence-related taxes and insurance, or even pay outstanding bills, including legal fees....[1]

 

While there are rules against giving away most assets, there are no prohibitions against simply spending money...options might include travel to visit relatives or see the world, or one last tour of Reno's finest establishments.[2]

 

...a common misconception among [Medicaid] applicants is that excess resources must be spent only on doctors, hospitals, nurses, medication, and nursing homes.  Nowhere in the law is this indicated.  Quite literally, an applicant could spend all of his or her assets on something 'frivolous,' such as a 90th birthday celebration of Ziegfield Follies proportion and this should not be cause for denial of Medicaid, because the applicant received 'value' for his or her money.[3]

Second, the home (up to $828,000 of equity in 13 states, $552,000 elsewhere) isn’t the only major asset Medicaid exempts.  It disregards these with no limit on their value:  one farm or business including the capital and cash flow; IRAs that are paying out (as all must after age 70.5); one automobile (including a new Tesla or Mercedes); prepaid burial funds for everyone in the recipient’s immediate family; term life insurance; personal belongings; and home furnishings.  People who have too much in cash or negotiable securities only need to convert that disqualifying wealth into exempt assets by purchasing one or more of these items.

Now consider this observation that Johnson makes about the relationship between wealth and the purchase of LTCI:

In 2014, coverage rates reached 25 percent for adults ages 65 and older with at least $1 million in total household wealth and 20 percent for older adults with at least $500,000 but less than $1 million in household wealth (table 1). By contrast, only 8 percent of older adults with at least $100,000 but less than $500,000 in household wealth—representing 40 percent of the older population—had coverage.  (p. 3 

Why is the market penetration less than half (8 percent) for people under $500,000 in wealth than (20 percent or more) for people with over $500,000?   Shouldn’t it follow that people with less wealth are more at risk to spend down than people more wealth?  Shouldn’t people with fewer assets be even more worried about losing them than more affluent people?  Ought not lower-wealth people to be even more likely to purchase at least some LTCI protection than their better-well-off fellows?

Of course.  That would follow if it were not for the fact that Medicaid is the dominant payer for long-term care for the middle class and some of the affluent while sheltering virtually unlimited assets from spend down and from estate recovery, which is easy to avoid.  Consider too that we have not even mentioned the more sophisticated legal means to qualify for Medicaid without spending down, i.e., artificial self-impoverishment by means of Medicaid estate planning.

It’s good to know who buys LTCI, but it’s much more important to understand why so many people do not buy the product.  By answering that question, as we’ve just done, and correcting it you can save Medicaid for people truly in need, reduce the burden on taxpayers of welfare-financed LTC, divert many more middle class and affluent people to private LTC financing alternatives like home equity conversion and LTC insurance, and improve long-term care options and quality for all Americans.


 

[1] Hal Fliegelman and Debora C. Fliegelman, “Giving Guardians the Power to do Medicaid Planning,” Wake Forest Law Review, Vol. 32, No. 2, Summer 1997, pps. 341-2, 359, 362-4, 373.

[2] Michael Gilfix and Mark Woolpert, "Medi-Cal Asset Preservation and Your Clients or Estate Planning is Not Enough!:  A California Elder Law Institute Continuing Legal Education Seminar," Gilfix Management Group, Palo Alto, California, 1990, p. 42.

[3] Ira S. Schneider and Ezra Huber, Financial Planning for Long-Term Care, Human Sciences Press, Inc., New York, 1989, p. 142.

 

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Updated, Monday, October 17, 2016, 10:02 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-040:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Q&A: A tech startup’s experience at InsureTech Connect

  • Enrollment in 4 or 5-star Medicare Advantage plans rising, new star ratings show

  • Humana, Cigna hit by lower 2017 Medicare star ratings: Aetna scores big but, like its merger partner, sees stock price fall

  • New Short-Term Care Insurance Consumer Video Released

  • Life Insurance Industry a Critical Driver of Economic Growth & Stability

  • The Challenge of Financing Health Care in Retirement

  • 5 Ways A Reverse Mortgage Can Help Your Retirement

  • Ventilator use surges for nursing home residents with dementia

  • When it comes to managing retirement savings, confusion reigns

  • Financial advisers need to prepare for the coming age wave

  • The Gray Gender Gap: Older Women Are Likelier to Go It Alone

  • Long-term care insurance rated a worthwhile benefit

  • Running Out of Money Ranks Top Retirement Concern

#############################

"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

#############################

Updated, Friday, October 14, 2016, 10:25 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—


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LTC Bullet:  Medicaid LTC Data Insights

LTC Comment:  What’s happening with Medicaid LTC financing and why it matters after the ***news.***

*** Here is our latest LTC Clipping and interesting news items:

10/13/2016, “Q&A: A tech startup’s experience at InsureTech Connect,” by Brian Anderson, Insurance Forums

Quote:  “Belleview, Wash.-based Agent Review brings the review model made popular by Yelp, Avvo, Zillow, Angie’s List, etc., to the insurance space. The platform empowers consumers to easily understand the consequences for a lack of coverage, the ability to review an agent’s professional makeup and then allows them the ability to review agents that fit their search criteria. The search criteria can include zip code, type of insurance, agent experience, performance ratings, language, testimonials, military service, charities, states licenses, and more.  In addition, consumers can post reviews and performance ratings about their agent experience, offering reliable social feedback to guide their peers’ future decisions. Agent Review is free to the consumer and provides them two high-level search option features. The first is a dedicated cluster of search tabs and the second is a search bar. The search bar feature is optimized with each agent’s profile allowing a consumer to fine-tune their search.”

LTC Comment:  Congratulations to Harley Gordon and Jonas Roeser, principals of Agent Review. ***

*** ILTCI CONFERENCE:  The 17th Annual Inter-Company Long-Term Care Insurance Conference will convene March 26 to 29, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency in Jacksonville, Florida.  Conference organizers have issued their call for sponsors and exhibitors.  “Early Bird Discounts of up to $1,995 are only available through 11/23/16!”  Booth locations are first come, first pick, so best to get a move on.  See you there. ***

*** CLTCR Premium Membership  --  Center for Long-Term Care Reform premium members receive our full suite of individual membership benefits including: 

  • All LTC Bullets and E-Alerts
  • Access to our Members-Only Zone website, Almanac of Long-Term Care and Clipping Service Archive
  • Subscription to our Clipping Service
  • Email/phone access to Steve Moses for 24-hour turnaround queries

Our Premium Membership is designed to give you a competitive advantage in your long-term care profession. Your increased knowledge of the critical issues and challenges we face in the field of long-term care service delivery and financing equals improved professional success for you and better LTC services for your clients and for those who have no choice but to rely on scarce public resources. 

Stay on the forefront of professional knowledge and help us fight for rational long-term care policy reform by contacting Damon at 206-283-7036 / damon@centerltc.com to start your Premium Membership immediately or go directly to our secure online subscription page and sign up for as little as $21 per month. ***

 

LTC BULLET:  MEDICAID LTC DATA INSIGHTS

LTC Comment:  Truven Health Analytics’ annual report on Medicaid long-term care expenditures is the gold standard for data on that subject.  Read the Executive Summary from this year’s report with our analysis interspersed of what it means for private LTC financing alternatives like LTC insurance and home equity conversion.

------------- 

Following is the Executive Summary from Steve Eiken, Kate Sredl, Brian Burwell and Paul Saucier, “Medicaid Expenditures for Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) in FY 2014: Managed LTSS Reached 15 Percent of LTSS Spending” (Ann Arbor, MI: Tru­ven Health Analytics, April 15, 2016).  Read the full report here.

Truven:  “Total federal and state Medicaid long-term services and supports (LTSS) spending was about $152 billion in federal fiscal year (FY) 2014, a 4.0 percent increase from $146 billion in FY 2013. Average annual growth in the most recent two years (FY 2013-2014) was 3.7 percent, greater than the 0.8 percent average annual growth the previous two years (FY 2011-2012). Recent spending growth remains below historical averages. From FY 1996 through FY 2010, expenditures increased by more than 5 percent per year.”

LTC Comment:  The observation that Medicaid LTC expenditures have abated since the 15-year period from FY 1996 to FY 2010 is a little misleading.  For example, the average U.S. GDP growth rate in that period was 4.6%, .4% less than the 5% growth rate in LTC expenditures.  By comparison, the growth rate in LTC expenditures for FY 2013-2014 of 3.7%, is still just a little below the GDP growth rate of 4.2% for those years.  So compared to the growth of the economy, the latest LTC expenditure rate of 3.7% is little different than the 1996-2010 rate of 5%.  What matters much more is what’s likely to happen with the Medicaid LTC expenditure growth rate as the age wave crests, boomers start turning 85 (the critical threshold age for LTC) in 2031, and the Social Security/Medicare trust funds run out in the 2030s.  Sometime between now and then, Medicaid will no longer be able to fund most custodial LTC and private financing alternatives like home equity conversion and private LTCI will become much bigger factors in the LTC marketplace.  For more on what’s likely to happen, see our 2016 report Cassandra's Quandary: The Future of Long-Term Care.

Truven:  “Expenditures for LTSS provided through managed care organizations grew more than overall Medicaid LTSS. Managed LTSS spending increased 55 percent in FY 2014, from $14.5 billion to $22.5 billion. Managed care accounted for 15 percent of LTSS spending in FY 2014. Because of ongoing challenges with collecting managed care data, not all managed care spending is included. As a result, the $22.5 billion figure is a conservative estimate. Starting in FY 2016, CMS requires states to identify an estimate of institutional and HCBS expenditures within Medicaid managed care, which will improve the availability of managed LTSS spending data.”

LTC Comment: The Obama Administration, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is pushing headlong into managed long-term care.  They’re replacing traditional fee-for-service reimbursement with new, experimental financing schemes including bundled and value-based payments.  Let’s hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Unfortunately, every other time Medicaid has interfered with the LTC market, bad things (such as crowding out private home care and knee-capping LTC insurance) have happened.  Most LTC will still be provided by nursing homes and home care companies, but now a new middle-man, the managed care company, will come between the payer (Medicaid) and the provider, which already stands between the patient and access to quality care.  In every state where I’ve studied this development, LTC providers have complained vehemently that their already meager Medicaid reimbursements, often less than the cost of the care, will be further attenuated with dire consequences for care access and quality.

Truven:  “The percentage of Medicaid LTSS attributable to HCBS continued to increase in Federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, one year after HCBS accounted for a majority of Medicaid expenditures for the first time. The percentage of total LTSS spent on home and community-based services (HCBS) increased from 51.3 percent in FY2013 to 53.1 percent in FY 2014. The shifting balance was caused by a 7.7 increase in HCBS spending, from $74.9 billion to $80.6 billion. Institutional service spending was flat, with only a 0.2 percent increase from $71.1 billion to $71.2 billion.”

LTC Comment:  The good news is that nursing home expenditures have leveled off.  The bad news is that HCBS expenditures are exploding.  Academics and policy makers hope that over time HCBS will save money, but there is little reason to believe that.  Despite the rapid transition of Medicaid financing from institutional to home-based care, aggregate LTC expenditures continue to rise worrisomely even before baby-boomers have reached the age of needing LTC. 

Think about it.  People want to avoid nursing homes, and they overwhelmingly prefer home care.  So, as Medicaid pays for the more desirable care, more people will seek Medicaid LTC financing, including by means of Medicaid planning, i.e. artificial self-impoverishment.  Without the economy of scale nursing homes provide, keeping costs down and ensuring at least minimal quality control (QC) will become far more difficult.  Medicaid can’t send QC reviewers into every little adult care home as they can with nursing facilities. 

Nevertheless, aging in place is highly preferable, even if it isn’t cost-effective compared to institutional care.  We need to find a way to pay for HCBS even though they’re more expensive.  Private LTC insurance has done that already; it pays many more claims for home care and assisted living than for nursing home care.  That’s one of the reasons LTCI premiums are relatively high.  Medicaid is trying to have its cake (HCBS) and eat it too (control costs).  That won’t work.

Truven:  “The percentage of LTSS expenditures for HCBS continued to vary across population groups. HCBS accounted for 75 percent of spending in programs targeting people with developmental disabilities, compared to 41 percent of expenditures for programs targeting other large population groups: older people or people with physical disabilities, and people with serious mental illness or serious emotional disturbance. HCBS spending for all three populations increased relative to institutional services in FY 2014, but the historical differences in HCBS spending across the groups remained.

LTC Comment:  How interesting!  The growth of Medicaid-financed HCBS is much higher (75%) for people with developmental disabilities than for the traditional aged, blind and disabled population adding in people with serious mental illness or serious emotional disturbance (41%).  There must be something about the latter groups that makes providing for their LTC needs in the community more challenging even than providing home care for the developmentally disabled.  Otherwise, state Medicaid programs would be further along in implementing the mandates of the 1999 Supreme Court Olmstead decision requiring more HCBS whenever feasible.

Truven:  “New Medicaid State Plan authorities authorized in 2006 and 2010—Section 1915(i), Section 1915(j), Community First Choice (CFC), and Health Homes—continued to represent a small portion of HCBS spending (seven percent). Expenditures for these authorities decreased in FY 2014 because the March 2014 final regulations for CFC required some states to modify their CFC programs to comply with changes in the level of care eligibility standards. Spending for these new authorities is expected to increase in subsequent years as more states implement these important programs.”

LTC Comment:  I’m not so sure “spending for these new authorities . . . [will] increase in subsequent years as more states implement these important programs.”  Far more likely is that Medicaid funding of HCBS will hit a fiscal wall; that institutional services will continue and possibly grow again in comparison to HCBS; and that Medicaid will diminish in time from the dominant payer of LTC services to a lesser role.  For my reasoning on why this is likely see LTC Bullet:  How Fiscal and Monetary Malfeasance Will Ruin Long-Term Care

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Updated, Monday, October 10, 2016, 10:32 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-039:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • How to help even the wealthiest clients see the need for LTC planning

  • Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors 2016

  • Can You Go Home Again? Some Older Retirees Say Yes

  • Gary Johnson: What Clinton and Trump Won’t Tell You About Entitlements

  • CNO cancels LTCI reinsurance arrangement

  • Rising cost of Medicaid expansion is unnerving some states

  • Broken federal system threatens elderly patients’ safety

  • Know the difference: Critical illness vs. LTCI riders

  • How to Hack Your Medicare Costs, With a Retirement Guru's Help

  • The Two Mysteries of Medicare

  • Future care: The caregiver gap epidemic

#############################

"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

#############################

Updated, Friday, October 7, 2016, 11:07 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

#############################

LTC BULLET:  HOW FISCAL AND MONETARY MALFEASANCE WILL RUIN LONG-TERM CARE

LTC Comment:  Fiscal malfeasance ($20 trillion federal debt) enabled by monetary malfeasance (artificially low interest rates) bode ill for the economy and for Medicaid LTC financing.  Here’s why and how after this ***quick message.***

*** CLTCR Premium Membership  --  Center for Long-Term Care Reform premium members receive our full suite of individual membership benefits including: 

  • All LTC Bullets and E-Alerts

  • Access to our Members-Only Zone website, Almanac of Long-Term Care and Clipping Service Archive

  • Subscription to our Clipping Service

  • Email/phone access to Steve Moses for 24-hour turnaround queries

Our Premium Membership is designed to give you a competitive advantage in your long-term care profession. Your increased knowledge of the critical issues and challenges we face in the field of long-term care service delivery and financing equals improved professional success for you and better LTC services for your clients and for those who have no choice but to rely on scarce public resources. 

Stay on the forefront of professional knowledge and help us fight for rational long-term care policy reform by contacting Damon at 206-283-7036 / damon@centerltc.com to start your Premium Membership immediately or go directly to our secure online subscription page and sign up for as little as $21 per month. ***
 

LTC BULLET:  HOW FISCAL AND MONETARY MALFEASANCE WILL RUIN LONG-TERM CARE

Following is an excerpt from our forthcoming (currently in draft) report titled “Long-Term Care Financing:  The Myth and the Reality.”  This passage, read in tandem with the report’s annotated chronological bibliography, explains why efforts have stalled to target Medicaid LTC benefits to the genuinely needy, why a new compulsory government program to finance catastrophic LTC costs is highly unlikely, and why instead we’re most likely to see Medicaid retrench from being the dominant funder of LTC to a lesser role.

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Excerpt from Stephen A. Moses, “Long-Term Care Financing:  The Myth and the Reality”

Historically, as . . . documented in the Bibliography, progress toward making Medicaid a better long-term care safety net for the poor tends to occur after major economic downturns when state and federal governments face serious financial constraints.  After most recessions since 1965, Congresses and Presidents of widely divergent ideological persuasions backed legislation closing Medicaid long-term care eligibility loopholes and encouraging early and responsible long-term care planning.  But as each recession was followed by a rapid economic recovery and fiscal pressure abated, Medicaid long-term care benefits always reverted to virtually universal availability for all economic classes.

This pattern has changed recently.  After the March to November 2001 recession following the internet bubble’s implosion, economic recovery came more slowly than before.  Likewise, it took much longer for legislation discouraging the excessive use of Medicaid long-term care benefits to be passed.  The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 was not signed into law until February of 2006, nearly five years after the start of the previous recession.  Ultimately, economic recovery did come and true to form enforcement of DRA ’05 lessened.

The resulting boom ended when the housing bubble burst causing the Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009.  Again, economic recovery has come very slowly and meagerly.[1]  To date, more than seven years after the end of the last recession, we have seen neither a full economic recovery nor action to spend Medicaid’s scarce resources more wisely by aiming them toward people most in need.  In fact, . . . public policy analysts and advocates are moving in the opposite direction, toward proposing yet another government program funded by taxpayers to expand public financing of long-term care for all.

What might explain both phenomena, i.e., slower recoveries in recent years and less attention to the cost of Medicaid long-term care benefits?  The Federal Reserve forced interest rates to almost zero during and since the Great Recession.  The consequences of this policy have ramified through the economy in many ways.  One way is that government has been able to finance deficit spending and the rapidly increasing national debt at considerably lower carrying costs than before, when interest rates were much higher.  Consequently, according to a Wall Street Journal article:

Gone are the fights of yesteryear over striking a “grand bargain” to slash the debt. In their place a new debate has emerged over whether America’s borrowing capacity has gone up—and how the nation might take advantage of it.  The top candidates from both major parties have made scant mention of addressing rising long-term deficits and are calling instead for an increase in federal stimulus.[2]

By enabling politicians to spend more without facing the normal fiscal consequences, this new economic policy has attracted greater financial resources, including borrowed funds, into public financing of all kinds and simultaneously diverted private wealth into low-interest-rate-induced malinvestment.  Consequently, political concern about burgeoning budgets and debt has abated and no significant effort to preserve Medicaid funds by targeting them to the poor has occurred.

The danger is that just as excessive public spending and private malinvestment in the early 2000s led to the housing bubble and its consequent mid-decade recession, so the current much larger credit bubble driven by excessive government borrowing and spending could lead to an even greater economic collapse.  With the current national debt topping $19 trillion[3] and total unfunded entitlement liabilities around $103.1 trillion,[4] a return to economically realistic market-based interest rates would render the federal government immediately insolvent. 

Further exacerbating the problem of long-term care financing is the fact that the long anticipated age wave is finally cresting and will soon crash on the U.S. economy.  Baby boomers began retiring and taking Social Security benefits at age 62 in 2008.  At age 65 in 2011, they turned the Social Security and Medicare programs cash-flow negative.  Boomers begin taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from their tax-deferred retirement accounts this year depleting private investment capital.  They will reach the critical age (85 years plus) of rising long-term care needs in 2031, right around the time Social Security and Medicare are expected to go broke.  Of course, Medicaid is the main funder of long-term care, but according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Chief Actuary, in a statement of mind-numbing denial, “. . . Medicaid outlays and revenues are automatically in financial balance, there is no need to maintain a contingency reserve, and, unlike Medicare, the ‘financial status’ of the program is not in question from an actuarial perspective.”[5]  In a phrase, conditions are coalescing for a potential economic cataclysm in or before the second third of this century and public officials are in near total denial about the risk.

Under current circumstances, therefore, incrementally adding a new government long-term care financing program to the already dysfunctional system described in this paper would be the height of folly.  We should instead change course and try something totally unprecedented.  Save Medicaid long-term care for the poor by diverting everyone else to personal responsibility for their own lives, well-being and long-term care. 


 

[1] According to the Wall Street Journal, we are experiencing “the weakest pace of any expansion since at least 1949.”  Eric Morath and Jeffrey Sparshott, “U.S. GDP Grew a Disappointing 1.2% in Second Quarter,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2016; http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-economy-grew-at-a-disappointing-1-2-in-2nd-quarter-1469795649

“Even seven years after the recession ended, the current stretch of economic gains has yielded less growth than much shorter business cycles.”  Eric Morath, “Seven Years Later, Recovery Remains the Weakest of the Post-World War II Era,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2016; http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/07/29/seven-years-later-recovery-remains-the-weakest-of-the-post-world-war-ii-era/

[2] Nick Timiraos, “Debate Over U.S. Debt Changes Tone,” Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2016; http://www.wsj.com/articles/debate-over-u-s-debt-changes-tone-1469385857

[3] The “National Debt Clock” (http://www.usdebtclock.org/) places the national debt at $19.4 trillion (cited August 8, 2016).

[4] The “National Debt Clock” (http://www.usdebtclock.org/) places U.S. unfunded liabilities at $103.1 trillion (cited August 8, 2016).

[5] Christopher J. Truffer, et al., “Report to Congress:  2013 Actuarial Report on the Financial Outlook for Medicaid,” Office of the Actuary, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, United States Department of Health & Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, 2013, pps. 3-4; http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Research/ActuarialStudies/MedicaidReport.html.  Critiqued in S. Moses, “LTC Bullet:  Does Medicaid Solvency Matter?,” Friday, October 31, 2014; http://www.centerltc.com/bullets/archives2014/1062.htm
 

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Updated, Monday, October 3, 2016, 11:00 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-038:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  •  How The Senior Wave Will Reshape The Economy

  • Avalere: Prescription Drug Plan Premiums to Rise, Medicare Advantage Premiums Stay Stable

  • Policy with Built-In Living Benefits for Chronic and Terminal Illness:  Premium rates will never increase, benefit payout guaranteed  

  • 2 ways to encourage affordable senior housing: White House report  

  • CMS final nursing home rule bans pre-dispute arbitration agreements  

  • Critical Illness Insurance Might Not Be Worth It,” by Tracy Anderman  

  • Assisted living use is above average in 13 states  

  • Would delay in a long-term care price hike for federal workers do any good?  

  • As Their Numbers Grow, Home Care Aides Are Stuck at $10.11  

  • 50 Must-Know Statistics About Long-Term Care  

  • 2017 Medicare Advantage hole rankings

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, September 30, 2016, 9:35 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  CLAUDE THAU HAS YOUR BACK

LTC Comment:  Erroneous research that leads to damaging media often goes uncorrected.  Not this time.  Details follow.

LTC BULLET:  CLAUDE THAU HAS YOUR BACK

LTC Comment:  The Boston College Center for Retirement Research (BC CRR) does not have a very high opinion of private long-term care insurance.  They concluded, for example, that people are better off planning for Medicaid than buying LTCI.  The national media slavishly repeats BC CRR’s conclusions as if they were unassailable.  That negative publicity has hurt LTCI producers and denied needed LTC protection to untold numbers of innocent consumers.

We identified and rebutted errors in the BC CRR research in previous LTC Bullets, including “LTC Bullet:  How Careless Economists Boosted LTC Risk,” published December 12, 2014 and “LTC Bullet:  Another LTCI Hit Job?,” published October 9, 2015.  Read those two Bullets and you’ll come away with no uncertain idea about our opinion of BC CRR’s sloppy, ideologically biased, inaccurate, misleading and highly damaging work.  I guess you could say, we’re the “bad cop.”

Claude Thau is the good cop.  Claude reached out to the economists at BC CRR and invited them to undertake a rational dialogue about the same two research papers we critiqued in our LTC Bullets.  Calm, cool and collected, Claude respectfully challenged their findings and positions.  He made them aware of newer data and other angles from which to view the data that only an accomplished actuary with expertise in the specialized field of long-term care would know.  He patiently interacted with the BC CRR researchers for months. 

We are all now privileged to learn what Claude Thau discovered and how the BC CRR researchers responded to the information he provided.  The Society of Actuaries published Claude’s article titled “A Response to Recent Lapse Research” in the current (August 2016) issue of Long-Term Care News.  I strongly recommend that everyone concerned about accurate LTC research and the future of private long-term care insurance read this important article in full.  What follows are excerpts to give you the flavor of the piece, and I hope, to motivate you to read it.

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Excerpts from Claude Thau, “A Response to Recent Lapse Research, Long-Term Care News, Society of Actuaries, August 2016:  https://www.soa.org/Library/Newsletters/Long-Term-Care/2016/august/ltc-2016-iss-42-thau.aspx.  (Footnotes omitted, but you can find them in the original.)

“The Boston College Center of Retirement Research (BC CRR) has published articles relating to long-term care insurance (LTCI), including a November 2014 study, ‘Long-Term Care:  How Big a Risk?’ and an October 2015 study, ‘Why Do People Lapse Their Long-Term Care Insurance?’” . . .

“Unfortunately, these studies published conclusions that I and other LTCI professionals consider unjustifiable. When asked by several people to comment on these studies, I engaged the researchers to try to assure my comments are fair and intelligent. I contacted the researchers in May 2015 regarding the 2014 study and in November 2015 regarding the 2015 study and I can report the following progress:

1. The researchers intend to update their 2014 study to address its reliance on rehabilitation data. It is not clear whether the revised paper will clarify or modify other information which concerned LTCI professionals.

2. On May 13, 2016, after considering my concerns and speaking with Marianne Purushotham and Cindy MacDonald (experts on the SOA lapse studies), the researchers published a brief revising their 2015 study. The researchers' brief has bridged our differences as to lapses, but their comments about cognitive lapses still seem to be unjustified.

3. The researchers have stated that their future papers regarding LTCI will be vetted with LTCI industry experts prior to publication.

4. New related research is being contemplated by the SOA LTCI Section Council.”  . . .

“CALL TO ACTION

“BC CRR's 2015 report was widely reported. People who read that report think that LTCI policyholders are 50 percent more likely to lapse than data suggests (and as noted above, today's buyers are even less likely to lapse).

“They also are likely to think people lapse because of being cognitively impaired. They may falsely conclude that insurers take advantage of these policyholders and that regulators do nothing about it.

“I urged the researchers to mention the safeguards against cognitive lapses. They responded, ‘We are aware of these provisions but are unable to incorporate their effects in our analysis.’ Although I told them I was not asking that they ‘incorporate their effects’ but rather that they simply acknowledge the efforts, they chose, once again, not to mention those provisions in the revised brief.

“The researchers' November 2014 paper, ‘Long- Term Care: How Big a Risk?’ essentially concludes that many more people need LTC than was previously thought, but that the need lasts a short time, so LTCI is not valuable. My primary concerns are that the researchers' analysis is based primarily on rehab, which of course is common and short, but has nothing to do with LTC. “Moreover, it is not clear that they have included home care and assisted living facility care in their analysis.

“My interaction with BC CRR highlights the value of actuaries fostering dialogue with professionals performing related work. Timely discussion can contribute to clearer conclusions and more accurate consensus.

“Claude Thau is president of Thau, Inc. He is a consultant and wholesaler, and he can be reached at ClaudeT@targetins.com.”

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LTC Comment:  We all owe a debt of thanks to Claude Thau for donating so much of his valuable professional time to reach out to the Boston College researchers with sincerity, good will, and exceptional expertise.  Thanks also to the Society of Actuaries for its work on behalf of long-term care insurance and for publishing Claude’s article.  If truth does win out in the end, it will likely be because of the hard work, usually unrecognized and under-appreciated, of these dedicated professionals.

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Updated, Monday, September 26, 2016, 9:22 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-037:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Finding common ground on long term care funding
  • Medicare Advantage rates to drop slightly
  • Leading cause of injury, death in older Americans is on the rise
  • Interest rate slump rocks Pa. LTC Partnership Program
  • Families Caring for an Aging America
  • Medicare Advantage Savings Spread Far and Wide
  • Population Aging and Economic Growth
  • To Protect More of Us, ACSIA Partners Adds Tools from OneAmerica for Long-Term Care Solutions
  • Medicare Advantage Plan Switching: Exception or Norm?
  • Prevalence of mental disorders in seniors higher than thought
  • New LTC entrant could appeal to execs
  • Report Uncovers Widespread Medicare Fraud in Hospice Care
  • Where your new residents are moving from

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, September 23, 2016, 10:53 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  GOODMAN ON BETTER RISK MANAGEMENT

LTC Comment:  We invite your consideration of an exceptional paper by health policy guru John C. Goodman after the ***news.***

*** FREE TICKETS to the Insurance Agent Summit, the world’s largest online event for insurance agents.  Jonas Roeser of Agent Review and 3in4 Need More recommends the program and offers free tickets.  Learn more and register here:  www.insuranceagentsummit.com.  Feel free to pass this offer on. ***

LTC BULLET:  GOODMAN ON BETTER RISK MANAGEMENT

LTC Comment:  Having come to understand what’s wrong with long-term care public policy in the late 1980s, I decided I needed to have a better grasp of acute health care policy.  I read John C. Goodman and Gerald L. Musgrave’s seminal Patient Power (Cato Institute, 1992) and was totally blown away.  The book is clear, comprehensive, and convincing.  What surprised and pleased me about its analysis was that health policy generally as explained in the book and LTC policy specifically as I’d come to understand it fit together perfectly.   Government is the source of dysfunctions in both and solutions in both depend on bringing consumers back into the market while phasing government interference out.

So I’ve followed Goodman’s work at the National Center for Policy Analysis and more recently at The Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research with great interest.  He’s best known as the “Father of Health Savings Accounts,” but I’m pleased to see he’s branching out into much broader public policy analysis.  I want to focus your attention today on a new paper he presented recently to the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS).  The MPS was founded by Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek and other classical liberals and counts among its members more than a half dozen Nobel Prize recipients.  Goodman says

My paper . . . presents a new way of approaching public policy reform - especially reform of entitlement programs.  It draws on work by Kotlikoff, Saving and other scholars we are working with. My book on this subject will be published by the Independent Institute later this year.

Find his paper, titled “Better Than Government:  New Ways of Managing Life’s Risks,” here.  What follows are excerpts I’ve selected to convey the gist.  We’ll let you know when the book becomes available.

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Excerpts from John C. Goodman’s “Better Than Government:  New Ways of Managing Life’s Risks

This paper is based on three ideas.

The first idea is the win/win policy change.

A typical government program is funded by taxpayers and provides goods, services or money to a group of beneficiaries. Imagine that you could make a change in that program that reduces the cost to the taxpayers and enhances the value of the program for the beneficiaries – at the same time. Who could possibly object to that?

I think there are thousands of opportunities to make win/win policy changes in the US political system. Win/win policy changes ought to be irresistible to politicians – whether Republican or Democrat, conservative or progressive, independent or socialist. After all, win/win means that everyone comes out ahead. There are no losers. What could be more popular?

And yet win/win is just about the last thing our representatives seem disposed to talk about. It’s almost as if members of Congress think they were sent there to do battle. If they don’t draw blood, if someone doesn’t suffer as a result of their efforts, they apparently think they aren’t doing their job. Perhaps for that reason, Washington is dominated by a zero-sum mentality: everyone’s gain must be offset by someone else’s loss.   . . .

The second idea is what I call the trial and error principle.  . . .  Whenever two policy extremes exist such that one kind of cost falls and another rises as we move back and forth between them, there is almost always some intermediate point where everyone gains. We can’t find that point by armchair theorizing, however. We must be willing to experiment and adapt. That is, we must be willing to do the kind of experimentation that private markets do every day.

Why do I think there are thousands of opportunities for win/win public policy changes? Because so many government programs are so visibly inefficient. They labor under archaic rules and regulations . . . -- obstacles that any private entrepreneur would jettison in a second. Further, they inevitably leave all of us with perverse incentives. When we act on those incentives we do things that make social costs higher and social benefits lower than otherwise.

Economists define inefficiency as a state of affairs in which everyone could potentially be better off by doing things differently. If government programs are inefficient, we know that in principle everyone could be better off through some sort of policy change.

Here is the third idea: win/win strategies can be used to solve our most difficult public policy problems – problems created by social insurance.

Many people incorrectly assume that the reason for the growth of government in the twentieth century, both here and abroad, was the need to take care of the poor and the unfortunate. Even the term “welfare state” suggests that way of thinking. But modern governments in developed countries are not principally focused on welfare for the poor. They are focused on benefits for the middle class.

More than one commentator has loosely characterized our federal government as an insurance

company connected to an army. That insurance is “social insurance.”

All developed countries in the world today face a common problem: they have promised more than they can deliver. People are expecting benefits for which taxpayers are unlikely to be willing or able to pay, once the needed tax increases become evident. In addition, the benefits that government provides are all too often delivered inefficiently, impersonally, inflexibly, and in a way that encourages perverse behavior on the part of the beneficiaries.  . . . 

There are certain risks that human beings always have faced. These include:

• The risk of growing too old and outliving one’s assets.

• The risk of dying too young and leaving dependent family members without resources.

• The risk of becoming disabled and facing financial ruin.

• The risk of facing a major health event and being unable to afford needed medical care.

• The risk of becoming unemployed and finding no market for one’s skills.  . . .

In the United States, the federal government provides an income, pays medical bills, and covers a large part of the cost of long-term care for people during their retirement years. For people of working age, the federal government is subsidizing health insurance and insuring against disability and unemployment. State governments are also involved — insuring workers for injury, death, and disability on the job. Although many of these programs include the word “insurance” in their names, they are very different from traditional indemnity insurance. In many respects, they are not insurance at all, but merely thinly disguised vehicles for redistributing income. 

These programs have been insulated from private-sector competition. People who find a better way of insuring on-the-job injuries or health or disability expenses or providing for retirement income are normally not able to take advantage of that knowledge. For the most part, we are all forced to participate in monopoly insurance schemes, regardless of potentially better alternatives. Even where competition is allowed (as in health insurance) it is regulated so tightly that no one ever sees a real premium for any health plan. Government insurance and government-regulated insurance are also subject to special interest political pressures that undermine its rational provision.  . . .

[I]n the United States and in most other countries around the world social insurance schemes

almost always leave individuals with perverse incentives. For example:

• Social Security’s early retirement program and its survivorship benefits discourage work by imposing an implicit marginal tax rate of 50 percent — on top of all the other taxes workers face.

• Our unemployment insurance and disability insurance programs literally are paying people not to work.

• Both Social Security and Medicare have substantially altered the lifetime consumption and saving behavior of most people.

• Both Medicare and Medicaid encourage the over-use of healthcare and long-term care services.

• Obamacare’s employer regulations are encouraging part-time rather than full time work, encouraging contract labor, outsourcing jobs rather than making new hires and discouraging small firms from becoming larger. . . .

Because of the temptation to spend payroll tax revenues that are not needed to pay social insurance benefits on other politically popular programs, social insurance is almost always operated on a pay-as-you-go basis. This has resulted in huge unfunded liabilities both in this country and abroad. These unfunded promises have created enormous implicit liabilities for governments around the world. According to a Social Security trustees report, the unfunded liability in Social Security and Medicare is $107 trillion, or more than six-and-a-half times the size of the entire U.S. economy. If the implicit, unfunded promises in Medicaid, Obamacare and other programs are included, the government’s total implicit debt is almost twice that figure.  . . .

Here is the principle behind social insurance, then: government intervenes in those insurance markets where people’s choices to insure or not insure impose potential costs on others. Because of basic human generosity, society is not going to allow people to starve or live in destitution. So when people don’t insure for retirement, disability, and so forth, society is going to step in and help where help is needed. Implicitly, we have a social contract that socializes the downside of certain risks. If we allow the upside to be left to individual choice, we will have privatized the gains and socialized the losses. When people don’t bear the social cost of their risk-taking, they will take more risks than they would otherwise, a behavioral response known as “moral hazard.”  . . .

Here is the upshot: In fashioning better choices for people, we must at the same time prevent them from becoming free riders on the rest of society if their choices do not turn out as well as planned.  . . .

If individuals can find better ways of protecting themselves against life’s risks, they should be allowed to take advantage of those discoveries. If they are willing to take responsibility for their own needs and relieve others of that burden, they should be encouraged to do so. Wherever possible, the goal should be to maximize choices and opportunities for individuals, leaving to government the minimum role of ensuring that the needs of the most vulnerable continue to be met.  . . .

If we do nothing to reform our nation’s entitlement programs, we will eventually be forced to adopt harsh policies. High-income individuals will be cut off, of course. They will not receive any Social Security checks. Or if they do get them, the government will take the money back through higher taxes. Instead of getting subsidized Medicare, they will be forced to pay the full (unsubsidized) premium — and then some. Yet these changes will amount to no more than a drop in the bucket for Uncle Sam. Before it’s over, most people will find that they are getting less than what was originally promised. In fact, it’s likely that everyone will face higher taxes, smaller benefits, or both. Such a zero-sum outcome is one in which everybody loses. And because everyone will lose, these reforms will be difficult and painful to enact. They will be resisted by everyone. Is there an alternative?  . . .

In what follows, I propose a simple idea. People of any age should have the opportunity to opt out of social insurance in favor of alternatives that better meet their individual and family needs. In particular, they should be able to substitute assets and arrangements they have voluntarily chosen, and that they own and control, for the government systems in which they are now forced to be participate.  . . .

There is only one general condition that must govern these choices: They must not increase the expected burden for other taxpayers. This means that there must be (1) a reasonable expectation that the direct tax burden for others will not rise as a result of an individual’s opting out and (2) a reasonable expectation that the individual will not try to return to the government program (thus creating an additional burden for everyone else) if the private option turns out to be disappointing. This condition implies that opting out must be a win/win proposition.  . . .

Despite this almost self-evident fact, most proposals to change our social insurance programs – proposals coming from both political parties – are zero sum. For every gain they promise, someone else must bear a loss. For example, some Democrats are proposing more generous Social Security benefits. But those benefits would be paid for by imposing new burdens on the young, either in the form of higher payroll taxes or a larger public debt. Some Republicans are proposing to solve future deficit problems by reducing future benefits – a burden for the young without any corresponding gain.  . . .

There is a more general principle here: Any time anyone — rich or poor — can find a way to solve the social problems Social Security and Medicare were designed to address and leave the taxpayers with a smaller burden in the process, we should welcome the change.  . . .

We don’t want the elderly to live out their remaining years of life in extreme poverty. Most of us don’t care very much, however, if seniors fail to live out their remaining years in luxury. That is important to remember because Social Security benefit payments are actually highly regressive.  . . .

What about private savings? If private savings are to serve as acceptable substitutes for benefits there would probably have to be some assurance that the funds would not be squandered or gambled away. Part of the requirement might be that the funds be held by reputable financial institutions and that they be managed according to prudent investment rules. There would also have to be rules governing the rate of withdrawal during the retirement years and a general prohibition against putting the asset up as collateral for loans or other indebtedness.

Texas A&M University economists Thomas Saving, Andrew Rettenmaier and Liqun Liu have produced a first-of-its kind calculation of the value of Social Security to young people in light of the political uncertainty about its future. They conclude that a 21-year-old earning an average wage with a moderate degree of risk averseness would be better off if he could completely opt out of the system by paying a 4.5 percent payroll tax for the remainder of his work life. That means he would forgo all future Social Security benefits and avoid all future Social Security taxes, including the current 12.4 percent tax he and his employer are now paying.  . . .

Think back to the mid-twentieth century when many social security systems were devised in countries around the world. What rational person would choose a system that makes promises to pay young people benefits five or six decades into the future without making any provision to save and invest the funds needed to pay those benefits? What rational person would devise a system that encourages young people to believe they will get benefits five or six decades into the future, knowing all along that the payment of benefits depends on future taxpayers -- but without knowing what the fertility rate will look like a half century later and therefore without knowing how many future taxpayers there will be? In short, what rational person would devise an entire retirement system, using the same techniques that Bernie Madoff used to scam his investors?

----------------

LTC Comment:  That’s enough to give you the flavor of this paper.  I hope this inspires you to read it in full here and to await eagerly, as I will, the book-length treatment of these ideas.

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Updated, Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 8:06 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-036:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • 5 insider tips for finding affordable long-term care insurance

  • AARP Urges Candidates to Address Social Security's Financial Challenges: 67% of its Members Cite Social Security’s Future as Their #1 Concern

  • Donald Trump's Plan To Support Family Caregivers

  • Adult children dread discussing senior living with aging parents: poll

  • Regulators post LTCI reserve-testing draft

  • Study: Elderly’s Family Caregivers Need Help Too

  • Medicaid Is a Ticking Time Bomb

  • 7 new peeks at how long-term care insurance is working

  • Failure to Improve Is Still Being Used, Wrongly, to Deny Medicare Coverage

  • Nearly 90% of Consumers Satisfied with Their Long-Term Care Coverage

  • New LTCI sales firm up

  • 5 ways Genworth wants to reboot LTCI

  • Report: Demand, vacancies for SNF nursing assistants on the rise

#############################

"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

#############################

 

Updated, Friday, September 16, 2016, 9:46 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  MEDICAID MALFUNCTIONS MULTIPLY

LTC Comment:  Medicaid ruined long-term care, but that’s not the only damage it’s done.  Examples after the ***news.***

*** ILTCI CONFERENCE:  The 17th Annual Inter-Company Long-Term Care Insurance Conference will convene March 26 to 29, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency in Jacksonville, Florida.  Conference organizers have issued their call for sponsors and exhibitors.  “Early Bird Discounts of up to $3,495 are only available through 9/28/16!”  Booth locations are first come, first pick, so best to get a move on.  See you there. ***

*** DYCHTWALD AT NIC:  Just received this note from Ken and watched the video.  Don’t miss it.  One of his best.  He says:  “This week I had the great honor of addressing global leaders in the senior care and housing industries in Washington DC as part of the NIC [National Investment Center] conference.  I was asked to tell them how the boomers will transform aging and how aging will transform them – and do so in less than 20 minutes.  As you’ll see, I threw in a few zingers…..  Enjoy!  https://vimeo.com/182924690  All the best, Ken ***

 

LTC BULLET:  MEDICAID MALFUNCTIONS MULTIPLY

LTC Comment:  Medicaid has had a devastating impact on long-term care services and financing.  By making nursing home care virtually free for all in 1965, Medicaid (1) led to decades of institutional bias, (2) crowded out a market for private home care, (3) crippled private financing options like LTC insurance and home equity conversion, and (4) created the caregiver shortages and access, quality, reimbursement, and discrimination problems we face today.  Seems like that would be enough damage for one centrally planned and managed government program to cause. 

But no, there’s much more to learn about Medicaid’s multiplying misadventures.  Cato’s Dan Mitchell says “Medicaid is a Ticking Time Bomb.”  He delivers devastating evidence that Medicaid (1) is “the fastest-growing entitlement program,” (2) grows faster than state revenues, (3) expands “faster than the private sector,” (4) incentivizes over-spending with a perverse federal funding scheme, (5) lures states into ObamaCare with “free money” that turns out to be very expensive,  (6) hurts the poor with fewer doctors available and worse medical outcomes, (7) enables “staggering amounts of fraud and theft,” (8) enriches the “poverty pimps,” i.e.the vast array of government employees, their union allies, contractors, and third parties who earn six-, seven-, eight-, or nine-figure paydays taking their cuts of money we think we’re spending on the poor,” and (9) should be block-granted like welfare was in 1996 to stem the red ink and to improve the program for the needy.

That must be all that can be said about Medicaid’s problems, right?  But no, there’s more.  The Mercatus Center’s Brian Blase reports today that “Evidence Is Mounting: The Affordable Care Act Has Worsened Medicaid’s Structural Problems.”  In a nutshell, Blase says:

The first two years of the ACA’s [Affordable Care Act, i.e., ObamaCare’s] Medicaid expansion demonstrate that government experts failed to account for how states would respond to the incentives resulting from the elevated federal reimbursement rate. Enrollment and spending are much higher than expected, and this is espe­cially noteworthy since states are adopting the expansion more slowly than expected. Overall, the ACA expansion significantly adds to Medicaid’s unsustainable spending trajectory, likely fails to produce outcomes worth the corresponding cost, and creates a large federal government bias toward nondisabled, working-age adults at the expense of traditional Medicaid enrollees.

He adds details on each of these problems:  (1)  Enrollment has been higher than expected,” (2) “Total costs have been higher than expected,” (3) “Individual enrollees have been more expensive than projected,” and (4) “Medicaid expansion enrollees receive inadequate value from the program.”  Blase also expands on Medicaid’s fundamental problems, explaining how (1) “It crowded out other priorities,” (2) “It lacked effective oversight,” (3)“It disincentivized work,” and (4) “It resulted in lack of access” to care.

Obviously it’s high time to reform Medicaid radically.  Remove its perverse incentives and target its scarce resources to the truly poor.  But how?  We’ve tackled that question with regard to long-term care in the Center’s forthcoming report “Long-Term Care Financing:  The Myth and the Reality.”  Other analysts, including the two cited in today’s LTC Bullet, have complementary proposals to offer.  But time is running out.  A fiscal vise is closing as an unprecedented  monetary bubble expands and the age wave is finally about to crest and crash.  This triple threat compels change either through responsible public policy or by default.

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Updated, Friday, September 9, 2016, 9:46 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  CENTENNIAL CARELESS AND DIY PUBLICITY

LTC Comment:  How can we get the word out more effectively about the need to plan for long-term care and avoid Medicaid dependency?

*** TODAY'S LTC BULLET is sponsored by Claude Thau, a GA whose proprietary tools help advisors find clients and reduce the “Ping-Pong” in the LTCi sales process. Help clients make informed final decisions about buying LTCi in 15-20 minutes!  Gauge a client's true interest in a combo product immediately!  Change work-site LTCi sales from a series of proposal deliveries to a single interactive consultation!  Claude is the lead author of the Milliman Broker World LTCi Survey, one of Senior Market Advisor's 10 "Power People" in LTCi in 2007, a past Chair of the Center for Long-Term Care Financing. Test Claude by calling 800-999-3026, x2241 or email him at claudet@targetins.com to ask questions or get references. ***

 

LTC BULLET:  CENTENNIAL CARELESS AND DIY PUBLICITY

LTC Comment:  Analysts, legislators and public officials have drifted into a dangerous frame of mind about long-term care financing.  They blame Medicaid for impoverishing millions who need LTC; they’ve given up on private LTC insurance; so they assume the only hope is to give more power, control and financing of LTC to government. 

But they’ve got the problem and the solution all wrong as we explain in our new report (currently in draft) and in LTC Bullet:  Real vs. Mythical Medicaid.  Medicaid for LTC does not require impoverishment.  Rather Medicaid has operated to fund long-term care after people need expensive care while allowing them to preserve most of their wealth.  The right way to think about Medicaid’s role in long-term care financing is that it substantially ameliorates the risk and cost of long-term care, not that it impoverishes people. 

The result is that most people do not worry about long-term care until they need it at which point they qualify easily for Medicaid without spending down significant assets.  What that means for state Medicaid programs I’ve described in the following “op-ed” which was published in slightly modified form in last Sunday’s Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico’s, the “Land of Enchantment’s,” largest-circulation newspaper.  Also published yesterday on NMPolitics.net here.

I’d like you to read this op-ed in a special way.  It is designed to be a template.  For each of the data points underlined in the article there are easily accessible state-specific online sources.  What this means is that virtually anyone in possession of those sources could fill in the blanks and create a similar op-ed for any state in the country.

As I have those sources at my fingertips, I could easily replicate this op-ed for any state or help others tap those sources to do it themselves.  Your Center at work.

--------------- 

“Centennial Careless”
by
Stephen A. Moses

“Centennial Care” is New Mexico’s name for Medicaid, the national means-tested public welfare program providing health benefits to the needy.  Fully one-third of the state’s citizens rely on the program. 

Expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare has blown a big hole in the state’s budget.  Governor Martinez recently called for a five percent across-the-board cut.  An even bigger problem is the demographic time bomb facing Centennial Care:  long-term care (LTC) for the aged, blind and disabled.

Three-fourths of Medicaid recipients are poor women and children in need of acute care.  But they account for only one-third of Medicaid’s cost.  The aged, blind and disabled are barely one-fourth of total recipients, but they consume two-thirds of program costs, mostly for their long-term care.

LTC costs skyrocket after age 85.  New Mexico’s 85-plus population is only two percent now (28th nationally), but it’ll be three percent (10th) by 2032, about when their Trustees say Social Security and Medicare will become insolvent.

Already, Centennial Care pays too little to ensure quality care.  The state reimburses nursing homes $25 per day less than the cost of providing the care (a $34 million annual shortfall).  But New Mexico shuns nursing homes, relying more heavily on home and community-based care (73.6 percent of LTC expenditures, third in the nation).  Home care workers are notoriously underpaid, especially by Medicaid, which is why quality caregivers are extremely difficult to hire and retain.

Given the staggering financial risks Centennial Care already faces, and the exponentially greater liabilities it will soon encounter, some of the state’s policies regarding eligibility for Medicaid long-term care boggle the mind.

For example, New Mexico exempts up to $828,000 of home equity from asset eligibility consideration, the maximum allowed by federal law.  Why does a state with fiscal problems invite people with so much wealth to partake of its welfare program’s most expensive benefit?

Nor is income an obstacle to qualifying for long-term care benefits in New Mexico.  Anyone with income over the monthly limit of $2,199 a month can shift the excess into a “Miller income diversion trust” and qualify quickly. 

Even much wealthier people qualify without spending down their assets by consulting elder law attorneys.  Try Googling “Medicaid planning in New Mexico” for advice like this:  “Medicaid planning involves developing a strategy to protect your assets should you require long-term nursing home care. . . . We will help you maintain what you spent your life earning.”  (http://www.pbwslaw.com/services/medicaid-planning/)

Since 1993, the federal government has required state Medicaid programs to recover care costs from the estates of deceased recipients.  Otherwise, the welfare program would become free inheritance insurance for boomer heirs.  But New Mexico recovers only $1.7 million from estates annually, less than half of one percent of its LTC expenditures, and only one-fourth of Idaho’s, the best state’s, recoveries percentagewise.

Medicaid was supposed to be a safety net for the poor, but it has become the dominant source of long-term care financing for nearly everyone.

Is it any wonder that only 3.8 percent of New Mexico’s age-40-plus population (33rd nationally) have planned ahead for long-term care by purchasing private insurance?  They can ignore the risk, avoid the premiums, preserve their estates and get Centennial Care to pay if they ever need expensive extended care.  So why worry?

What should New Mexico Medicaid do?  Governor Martinez and the Human Services Department should work with the state legislature and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to (1) cut the home equity exemption to the federal minimum (currently $552,000), (2) maximize estate recoveries to bring in an extra $5 million per year in non-tax revenues, (3) curtail long-term care financial eligibility loopholes wherever possible, (4) promote your LTC Partnership Program, and (5) educate the public that long-term care is a personal responsibility for which everyone one needs to plan, save, invest or insure.

It is probably too late for New Mexico to avoid a long-term care financing catastrophe, but those measures could reduce the damage and save Centennial Care $100 million per year.

Stephen Moses is president of the Center for Long-Term Care Reform in Seattle, Washington (www.centerltc.com) and a Santa Fe homeowner.  Reach him at smoses@centerltc.com.

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Updated, Tuesday, September 6, 2016, 11:08 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-035:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Long-term care costs skyrocketing

  • Top markets for baby boomer moves

  • Will my mother have to sell her half of our house to pay for care?

  • The Staggering Cost Of Long-Term Care And Medical Care in Old Age

  • Taxpayers Foot 70 Percent Of California’s Health Care Tab, Study Finds

  • Sensors help predict falls up to 3 weeks in advance

  • 8 ways long-term care insurance applicants are different: Researchers say people who seek coverage tend to be much healthier than other Americans

  • Small blocks of long-term care insurance may get own rules: Insurers say requiring full actuarial analysis for them would be overkill

  • Demand for seniors housing may be overstated, white paper says

  • ‘America’s Other Drug Problem’: Copious Prescriptions For Hospitalized Elderly

  • Engineering students create app for those with dementia

  • Audits of Medicare Advantage plans find rampant overcharging for elderly patients

  • ADL needs increasing for those aged 45 to 64

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, September 2, 2016, 10:11 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  BEHIND AHEAD

LTC Comment:  The people and organizations advocating a new, compulsory, payroll-financed government program to fund catastrophic LTC expenses base their arguments on dubious sources and reasoning.  Details after the ***news.***

*** LTC CLIPPING:  Here’s an example of a recent LTC Clipping we sent to subscribers.  To subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com

8/31/2016, “8 ways long-term care insurance applicants are different:  Researchers say people who seek coverage tend to be much healthier than other Americans,” by Allison Bell, LifeHealthPRO 

Quote:  “The researchers end with a prediction that could disappoint many long-term care insurance agents and brokers: The researchers say using expansion of private long-term care insurance coverage to eliminate the need for new public long-term care programs efforts will be difficult, because about 40 percent of Americans ages 50 and older have health problems or other risk factors that would make them expensive for private long-term care insurance issuers to cover.

LTC Comment:  That “prediction” is nonsensical and, frankly, offensive.  The fact that 40% of Americans over 50 years of age have health problems is no reason to shift the cost of their long-term care to healthier people by means of government compulsion.  People who don’t qualify for private LTCI should begin early to save or invest individually against the LTC risk and cost.  Maybe, without government to step in after they already need care (as Medicaid does now), they would take better care of themselves, avoid obesity, dodge diabetes, exercise and never become ineligible for private LTCI in the first place.  If we stop covering the middle class and affluent on Medicaid, that program could survive as a decent safety net for the rest, but only after they’ve genuinely spent down their own resources, which is not required now.  Will these policy wonks never grasp that it’s the nanny state that caused these problems in the first place and will only make them worse? ***

 

LTC BULLET:  BEHIND AHEAD

LTC Comment:  After decades of searching for a better way to do long-term care financing, leading policy wonks have homed in on . . . well . . . let the government do it.  Not exactly radical new thinking. 

Their reasoning goes something like this:  Although the risk and cost of long-term care are huge, the public just won’t take the problem seriously; they don’t buy private insurance; they end up devastated by LTC costs, impoverished and dependent on welfare, i.e. Medicaid, government’s answer to LTC financing since 1965.

So, what can we do?  We must redouble our efforts to employ government’s monopoly on the use of force to compel people to take long-term care seriously.  Let’s have a new, mandatory, payroll-financed federal program to cover the back-end catastrophic cost of LTC. 

How in the world do they end up with such a stale proposal, yet another federal entitlement program doomed to add more unfunded liabilities to a government already hopelessly submerged in debt?

They rely on survey data, simulations and modeling.  And where do they find the big data to manipulate and analyze?  Two sources.  Today’s LTC Bullet examines those sources and concludes they are highly problematical and lead to conclusions that are misleading, mistaken and misguided.  The following analysis comes from the Center’s new draft report titled “Long-Term Care Financing:  The Myth and the Reality.”

First we explain how the assets analysts discover in the survey data are either entirely exempt from Medicaid resource limits under federal law (meaning they don’t need to be spent down) or they are easily converted into exempt assets.  Then we show why the sources of the data themselves are unreliable.  Finally, we invite analysts to “ask the people who know” instead of ignoring, as they have done for decades, the testimony of Medicaid staff, financial advisors, consumers, long-term care providers, Medicaid planners, the vast legal literature on Medicaid planning, and 143 LTC Bullets on the subject.

-------------

HRS and AHEAD

When economists and health policy analysts claim that older people approaching the need for long-term care retain few assets and spend down rapidly, they generally . . . draw their evidence from survey data provided by the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and its auxiliary, the Asset and Health Dynamics among the Oldest Old (AHEAD) study. 

The AHEAD has information on the value of housing and real estate, autos, liquid assets (which include money market accounts, savings accounts, T-bills, etc.), IRAs, Keoghs, stocks, the value of a farm or business, mutual funds, bonds, and other’ assets.[1] 

Noteworthy is the fact that every one of these financial holdings is either expressly exempt under federal law or easily converted into an exempt asset for purposes of Medicaid long-term care eligibility.  Homes are exempt up to between $552,000 and $828,000 depending on the state.  Additional real estate such as a vacation home or homes may easily be made exempt.

Many of our clients own a second piece of real property--a summer home, a mountain cabin, an investment.  It is typically viewed as an impediment to Medi-Cal eligibility when one spouse enters a nursing home.  . . .  Rather than sell this property, as Medi-Cal would likely advise, protect it.  . . .  Assume further that the appraised value is $40,000, entirely likely in light of [California] Proposition 13.  The community spouse, the spouse living at home, could take out a loan in the amount of $40,000 and, for purposes of Medi-Cal, reduce its effective value to $0.  The borrowed money could then be used to add on to the residence, buy needed items, invest in other exempt resources, or be protected by an increased Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) order.[2]


If a couple has a second vacation home, consider having the couple rent that home and then claim the rental income as necessary for maintaining the community spouse's minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance.  If the vacation home is considered necessary for this purpose, it is no longer a countable resource.[3]

One automobile is exempt regardless of value as long as it is used for the benefit of the Medicaid recipient.  Liquid wealth such as bank accounts or securities may be converted from countable to non-countable status by purchasing exempt assets.

Another tactic is to spend the assets on property that won't count for Medicaid purposes...[such as] a home...a new car...household goods...funeral expenses...and...a burial plot...A client can also reduce his net worth by spending money on travel, which many elderly people enjoy.[4]

Farms and other businesses, including the capital and cash flow of unlimited value, are exempt.

The new amendment to the Social Security Act (Pub. L. No. 101-239, 103 Stat. 2465, amending 42 U.S.C. 1382b(a)(3)) allows for the exemption of all income-producing property used in a trade or business....  In other words, there is now an unlimited exemption for such property....  Property used in a trade or business is excluded regardless of its value or rate of return....  Critical provisions for advocates to note are that liquid resources used in the trade or business may be excluded from countable resources, and that no limit is placed on such resources (POMS SI 01130.501C.5).  Thus, advocates may exclude large amounts of cash in business operating accounts, trust accounts, and the like, that are necessary for use in the business....  Ultimately, Medicaid recipients will want to transfer their property to avoid the imposition of a lien and recovery from the estate for Medicaid expenditures.  Since business, farms, and ranches in current use are exempt property, they can theoretically be transferred without penalty.  No restrictions are placed on the transfer of this exempt property, unlike the transfer of a home (42 U.S.C. 1396(c)).[5]

Tax-deferred retirement accounts, including IRAs, Keoghs, and 401Ks, etc. are exempt if the holder is receiving a regular payout.

At age 70 ½, individuals must begin taking required minimum distributions from their IRAs, which means the IRA is in payout status. You may also be able to choose to put your IRA in payout status as young as age 59 ½ if you elect to take regular, periodic distributions based on life expectancy tables. If an IRA is in payout status, depending on your state, it may not count as an available asset for the purposes of Medicaid eligibility, but the payments you receive will count as income.[6]

Risks of Relying on HRS/AHEAD Data

While the HRS/AHEAD surveys provide the most reliable longitudinal data ever available, they are not fool proof.  Stephen F. Venti found “data quality issues” when he focused “on measurement errors in the data, particularly those arising from item nonresponse and from inaccurate respondent reports of the ownership and level of assets.”[7]  He explains “The fault lies not so much in the sample design or the execution of the survey, but is instead a consequence of the extraordinary lack of knowledge displayed by respondents.”[8]  He adds “‘Noise’ created by inaccurate reports and non-response is a problem common to all asset variables in the HRS.”[9]  Venti concludes “It is difficult to reach consensus among research studies if each author must arbitrarily decide whether to exclude, censor, or impute particular observations.”[10]  Wiener  points out that HRS “information on people who are cognitively impaired and who die is derived from proxy respondents, often relatives, who may not know about specific long-term services and supports use or Medicaid eligibility.”[11]  HRS and AHEAD data provide a very dubious foundation on which to generalize about long-term care financing policy.

There are many reasons why HRS/AHEAD respondents and their representatives might fail to report income and assets to surveyors or even purposefully misrepresent the facts.  People who have reconfigured their wealth in order to qualify for public welfare benefits may be ashamed of having done so or simply unaware that their heirs did this on their behalf.  Seniors reporting on themselves may be cognitively impaired or intimidated by their self-interested loved ones.  Heirs who benefit from preserving parents’ estates may prefer to conceal the facts.  Lawyers who do Medicaid planning are protected from disclosure by attorney/client privilege.  Long-term care providers and Medicaid eligibility staff, who often know, especially in small rural communities, which wealthy locals are taking advantage of Medicaid, often seethe, but cannot disclose the information because of legally enforced confidentiality.  Getting to the truth in such matters is extremely difficult. 

Finally, the Health Retirement Study asks the wrong question regarding wealth transfer and does not address the larger issue of Medicaid planning at all.  According to Lee, Kim, and Tanenbaum,

Specifically, the HRS asked the following question: ‘Did you (or your husband/wife/partner) give financial help totaling $500 or more in the last two years (since the previous interview) to any of your children (or grandchildren) not counting shared housing or shared food?’[12] 

There are several problems with this question.  Transfers of assets relevant to qualifying for Medicaid long-term care benefits are not necessarily done to provide “financial help” to children or grandchildren.  The question is too narrow.  Looking back only two years is insufficient.  Medicaid’s two-year asset transfer look back period ended with the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988 when it became 30 months.  Effective with the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, the asset transfer look back period is five years.  Finally, focusing narrowly as the question does on asset transfers ignores the much larger issue of Medicaid planning as Lee, Kim and Tanenbaum to their credit also observe,

Medicaid recipients will tend to underreport wealth transfers that occurred prior to applying for Medicaid. In addition, elder law attorneys have devised a wide variety of sophisticated asset-sheltering instruments, including irrevocable annuities, life estates, and ''spousal refusal'' testaments in the practice of Medicaid estate planning. These instruments, in fact, make up the bulk of Medicaid estate planning activity and are not captured by the AHEAD survey.[13]

Why Not Ask the People Who Know?

Besides passing over the formal legal literature on Medicaid planning, long-term care scholars have paid little attention to the voluminous testimony of Medicaid staff, financial advisors, Medicaid planners, consumers, and long-term care providers about the ease and impunity with which middle class and affluent people take advantage of Medicaid long-term care benefits.  In the 1990s, The Gerontologist published several articles quoting sources like these on that topic,[14] but very little such information has found its way into the peer-reviewed literature since.  Not so with the non-peer-reviewed literature and the popular media, which abounds with examples. 

Since May of 1998, for example, the Center for Long-Term Care Reform has published 143 articles about Medicaid planning covering what it is, who does it, media coverage, general public opinion and what various groups of professionals think about it, as well as state and federal legislative efforts to curtail it.[15]  . . .  Unfortunately, most academic scholars either do not read such material or they think they can ignore anything in it, however conclusive, that contradicts the conventional scholarly wisdom about long-term care financing.  Such arrogance has consequences.  Had no one thought outside the peer-reviewed box about astronomy, most people would still believe the sun revolves around the earth.

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[1] Mariacristina De Nardi, Eric French, and John Bailey Jones, “Medicaid Insurance in Old Age,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 19151, May 17, 2016, p. 10;  http://www.nber.org/papers/w19151.  To be published in the American Economic Review.
[2] Michael Gilfix, "Practice Tip:  Protect Non-Residential Real Property and Medi-Cal," Gilfix ElderLaw News Alert, Vol. VII, No. 1, February 1997, p. 3
[3] John J. Regan, Tax, Estate & Financial Planning for the Elderly, Matthew Bender, New York, 1991, 1993 update, p. 10-68
[4] Lawyers Weekly, September 27, 1993
[5] Rebecca L. Shandrick, "The Family Business:  An Exempt Resource for Medicaid Eligibility," The ElderLaw Report, Vol. 4, No. 3, October 1992, pps. 1-4, emphasis in the original.
[6] ElderLawAnswers, “Can an IRA Affect Medicaid Eligibility?,” article last modified 03/17/2015, cited August 9, 2016;  http://www.elderlawanswers.com/can-an-ira-affect-medicaid-eligibility-14544
The relevant Social Security Administration, Program Operations Manual System (POMS) reference is “SI 01120.210 Retirement Funds,” https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0501120210.
[7] Steven F. Venti, “Economic Measurement in the Health and Retirement Study,” Dartmouth College and NBER, January 21, 2011, p. 3; http://www.dartmouth.edu/~bventi/Papers/Venti-DMC-review_final_1-22-11.pdf
[8] Ibid., p. 2.
[9] Ibid., p. 5.
[10] Ibid., p. 4.
[11] Joshua M. Wiener, et al., “Medicaid Spend Down:  New Estimates and Implications for Long-Term Services and Supports Financing Reform: Final Report,” prepared for the SCAN Foundation by RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, March 2013, p. 50; http://www.thescanfoundation.org
[12] Jinkook Lee, Hyungsoo Kim, and Sandra Tanenbaum, “Medicaid and Family Wealth Transfer,” Gerontologist, Vol. 46, No. 1, 2006, p. 9
[13] Ibid., p. 12
[14] Examples include Stephen A. Moses, “The Fallacy of Impoverishment,” Gerontologist, Vol. 30, No. 1, 1990; http://gerontologist.oxfordjournals.org/content/30/1/21.abstract.
Leslie Walker, Cynthia Gruman, and Julie Robison, “Medicaid Estate Planning:  Practices and Perceptions of Medicaid Workers, Elder Law Attorneys, and Certified Financial Planners, Gerontologist, Vol. 38, No. 4, 1998, pps. 405-411,; http://gerontologist.oxfordjournals.org/content/38/4/405.full.pdf
Leslie Walker, Cynthia Gruman, and Julie Robison, “Medicaid Eligibility Workers Discuss Medicaid Estate Planning for Nursing Home Care,” Gerontologist, Vol. 39, No. 2, 1999, pps. 201-208; http://gerontologist.oxfordjournals.org/content/39/2/201.full.pdf 
[15] Find 143 articles on Medicaid planning here:  http://www.centerltc.com/bullets/subject.htm#medicaid_plan


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Updated, Monday, August 29, 2016, 10:53 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-034:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Social media use linked to less chronic illness, loneliness in seniors

  • Seniors who rarely exercise have 50% higher risk of dementia

  • New tax needed to fund NHS and care, says ex-minister

  • An Insurance Agent’s Case for Buying Long-Term Care Insurance:  A rebuttal to the recent article by Next Avenue's Money Editor

  • Where Clinton and Trump Stand on Caregiving and Long-Term Care

  • Retirees, make sure medical expenses are part of your plan

  • CBO: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security share blame for deficit increase

  • Less is more: The dilemma over long term care insurance

  • 6 ideas for this week's big long-term care hearing

  • What It Means to Be a Senior in the Gig Economy

  • Elderly with no nearby family to help them need safety net, experts say

  • Are your personal finances as good as gold?

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

#############################

 

Updated, Friday, August 26, 2016, 10:23 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  REAL VS. MYTHICAL MEDICAID

LTC Comment:  What’s the difference between the Mythical Medicaid conjured by analysts and the Real Medicaid at work in the LTC financing market and why does it matter?  After the ***news.***

*** GLICKMAN FOR PRESIDENT:  President of the Society of Actuaries, that is.  Jim asks “Although you may not be eligible to vote in the SOA election (only actuaries can vote for the President) it would be very helpful for my campaign if you can contact the actuaries at your company (as well as actuaries at other companies that you may know) and let them know about my candidacy, and how involved and dedicated I am to my volunteer activities in the LTCi industry.”  We say “hear, hear” and gladly support the candidacy of this indefatigable advocate for responsible LTC planning.  Here are a few links he pointed us to in support of his candidacy: 

·       Read about my leadership approach from this interview, published in the March 2014 issue of the SOA Reinsurance News

·       View my Video Message with my goals, as SOA President: Jim Glickman Video Message

·       View my Candidate Page containing my Election Message, Bio, Background Information and Photos (click on the photo to read the caption): Jim Glickman SOA Candidate Page

Go Glickman! ***

*** SAVAGE TRUTH on long-term care:  Don’t miss this column by Center friend and nationally syndicated financial columnist Terry Savage that quotes Brian Gordon of Center- corporate-member MAGA, Ltd.:  “Don't ignore possible long-term care needs,” by Terry Savage, Chicago Tribune. ***

*** LTC CLIPPING:  Too many academics and senior advocates live in an ideological fantasy world.  They think long-term care is inadequate and call for more government financing which is exactly what fouled up LTC financing in the first place.  I loved this article so we sent it to LTC Clippings subscribers last week.  Here’s what happens when an academic with her head in the clouds confronts the hard reality of Real Medicaid. 

8/21/2016, “An academic knowledge of elder care becomes a harsh, real lesson,” by Erin E. Arvedlund, Philly.com

Quote:  “‘You can only get your parent 10 hours of in-home care a week under Medicaid. Then the gap in service becomes real. I had to fill in the gap myself,’ Olson said of her visits to Florida. ‘While everyone is pushing for at-home care, there's not enough coverage under Medicaid. In order to be eligible, you have to be nursing-home eligible,’ which means your elder relative's assets have been depleted. In 2013, she moved her mother, now 93, into Gracedale, a county-run and subsidized senior facility in Nazareth, Pa. Finding a facility for her mother and ensuring that her benefits stayed consistent shattered Olson's convictions and exposed irrationalities in government systems. Despite her expertise, Olson was ill-prepared to deal with the bureaucratic barriers imposed at every turn. ‘I was surprised at how much every service is siloed,’ she said. ‘It's so burdensome as to be impossible. The VA? To deal with them [Dottie Katz's husband was a veteran] is a nightmare.’”

LTC Comment:  Read this article and you’ll hate to let another LTCI prospect say “No thanks.”  I’ll bet dollars to donuts this elder care “academic” spent her classroom decades teaching that private LTCI is unworkable and we need more government financing of long-term care.  Karma.

To subscribe to LTC Clippings, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com. ***

 

LTC BULLET:  REAL VS. MYTHICAL MEDICAID

LTC Comment:  Economists and health policy analysts insist that Medicaid requires impoverishment; that it drives millions of Americans into destitution paying for long-term care; and that, therefore, we need a new mandatory, payroll-financed, government program to cover the catastrophic LTC risk and cost.

Bunk!

The Center for Long-Term Care Reform’s new paper proves access to Medicaid LTC benefits does not require impoverishment (that’s Mythical Medicaid); that Medicaid has counterproductively ameliorated LTC risk and cost rather than caused widespread penury (Real Medicaid); and that a new unfunded government entitlement program is the diametrically wrong prescription for future LTC financing.

You’ll have to wait for final release of the paper currently under review by its sponsor to see all the evidence and logic backing up that conclusion, but here’s a peek at how Real Medicaid (government financed indemnification for LTC costs after care is needed) has impacted the long-term care financing market.

---------------

Following is an excerpt from “Long-Term Care Financing:  The Myth and the Reality”
by
Stephen A. Moses

Real Medicaid's Consequences

By making nursing home care virtually free in the mid-1960s, Real Medicaid locked in institutional bias, crowded out a privately financed market for home care, and trapped the World War II generation in sterile, welfare-financed nursing facilities.

By reimbursing nursing homes less than the cost of providing the care, Real Medicaid guaranteed that America's long-term care service delivery system would suffer from serious access and quality problems.

By underfunding most long-term care providers resulting in serious quality problems, Real Medicaid incentivized plaintiffs' lawyers to launch giant tort liability lawsuits, extract massive financial penalties, and further undercut providers' ability to offer quality care.

By making public financing of expensive long-term care available after the insurable event occurred, Real Medicaid discouraged early and responsible long-term care planning and crowded out the market for private long-term care insurance.

By compelling poor people to spend down what little income and savings they possessed in order to qualify for long-term care benefits, Real Medicaid discouraged accumulation and growth of savings among the poor, reducing their incentives to improve their stations in life.

By allowing affluent people to access subsidized long-term care benefits late in life, Real Medicaid encouraged accumulation and growth of savings among the rich who could pass their estates to their heirs whether or not they were stricken by high long-term care expenditures.

By enforcing spend down more aggressively on the poor than the rich, Real Medicaid aggravated ageism and racism because the rich tend to live longer than the poor and minorities.

By allowing people and families with extra "key" money to buy their way into the better nursing facilities, Real Medicaid discriminated against the poor and favored the affluent.  Medicaid planners help affluent clients avoid the program's reputedly poor care.

Medicaid is the cause of most of the dysfunctions in America's long-term care service delivery and financing system.  But blame should not fall on the Mythical Medicaid program imagined by advocates of a new compulsory government program.  Rather blame the Real Medicaid program that has operated to fund long-term care after people need expensive care while allowing them to preserve most of their wealth.

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Updated, Monday, August 22, 2016, 10:57 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-033:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • An academic knowledge of elder care becomes a harsh, real lesson

  • The incredible cost of higher interest rates

  • As the For-Profit World Moves Into an Elder Care Program, Some Worry

  • Computer chips to improve cognition not appealing: survey

  • Who Owns Long-Term Care Insurance?

  • 1.4 Million Americans Will Go Abroad for Medical Care This Year. Should You?

  • Affordability, amenities top influencers of future moves for those 55+

  • New Study Finds Medicare Advantage Plans Pay Lower Prices Than Traditional Medicare

  • Health Care Costs for Couples in Retirement Rise to an Estimated $260,000

  • Alzheimer's Care Puts Financial Strain On Family Members

  • Mother is elderly; does she need long-term care insurance?

  • Will The Cost Of Long-Term Care Bankrupt You?

  • 7 new, free LTC marketing graphics

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Monday, August 15, 2016, 9:43AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-032:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Feds may ban agents from selling Medicare long-term care plans

  • Dementia care added to Medicare Advantage insurance model

  • Active Life Expectancy in the Older US Population, 1982–2011: Black-White Differences Persisted

  • Medicaid long-term care eligibility and IRA distributions

  • Assisted Living Residents With Dementia Prone To Abusing Others, Study Finds

  • Most Sick, Aging Americans Live Far From In-Home Care

  • Hot Franchising Trend: Services for Seniors

  • Don't ignore possible long-term care needs

  • Brain aging accelerated by 10 years with midlife overweight, obesity

  • Elderly Hospital Patients Arrive Sick, Often Leave Disabled

  • Long-term care insurance rates soaring

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, August 12, 2016, 10:59 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC Bullet:  New CLTCR Website Feature

LTC Comment:  Today we are pleased to debut an exciting new feature from our Members-Only Zone website:  The Long-Term Care Clippings Archive.  Think of it as a highly-curated compendium of LTC news.  More on that after this week’s ***news.***

*** NEW 2016 MEDICAID SPOUSAL IMPOVERISHMENT NUMBERS.  We’ve just updated MEDICAID AND MEDICARE KEY NUMBERS UPDATED ANNUALLY in The Zone, the Center’s members-only website.  If you need your user name and password to access The Zone or if you’d like to join the Center to gain sustained access, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  (HINT:  Read on to find out how to “Zone in” for free.)

*** Ever wonder how Medicaid made long-term care free and bungled rational LTC financing and public policy in the process?  Read The Bibliography and last week’s LTC Bullet Half a Century of Bad Medicaid LTC Policy” to get enlightened. ***


LTC Bullet:  New
CLTCR Website Feature

Many of our Center for Long-Term Care Reform Premium members are familiar with our LTC Clipping Service, and from what we hear, get great value from this benefit of Premium membership.

For those who don’t already know, our Clipping Service is an excellent way to stay on top of current and critical long-term care news without having to spend hours a day researching on the internet. We send our Clipping Service subscribers an average of 2 emails per workday with a must-read-article link, a pull quote and some brief analysis. We’re sensitive to the fact that we all receive too many emails, so we’re very careful to send along only the most important LTC news items. 

If you’re reading this, chances are you play a valuable role in protecting people from the risk and cost of long-term care and to that end we think the Clipping Service allows our subscribers to be more effective doing so.  Based on their feedback, we think our subscribers feel the same.

What we introduce today is a running collection of the LTC Clippings called the Long-Term Care Clippings Archive. This archive is organized by LTC-related subject and sub-category.  While CLTCR Premium members will continue to receive their LTC Clippings in real time, Individual members will now have access to the Clippings Archive (updated monthly) through our Members-Only Zone website.  Furthermore, this feature is still in beta, and for a limited time (two weeks), we’re making access free to all.  Keep reading to learn how you can access the Archive, but in the meantime, here’s a breakdown of the subject categories: 

  • INSURANCE (Long-Term Care Insurance, Critical Illness Insurance, Hybrid and Miscellaneous [including alternative financing solutions])
  • LONG-TERM CARE (General, Cost, Assisted Living, Nursing Homes, Home Care, Caregiving, Veterans Affairs and Government Solutions)
  • MEDICAID (General and Medicaid Planning and Crowd-Out Effect)
  • MEDICARE (and Medi-Gap and Medicare Advantage)
  • SOCIAL SECURITY
  • ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE
  • POLITICS, LEGISLATION AND PUBLIC POLICY
  • ECONOMICS, DEMOGRAPHICS AND DATA
  • RETIREMENT PLANNING
  • HEALTH AND HEALTHCARE
  • OTHER

See why we’re excited about this new utility and take advantage of the free trial period by going to http://www.centerltc.com/members/LTC_Clippings_Archive/Main.htm and log in with UN:  IntrotoZone / PW:  FreeTrial.  If you find the Clippings Archive useful, join the Center for Long-Term Care Reform here or contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.

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Updated, Monday, August 8, 2016, 11:18 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-031:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • New Medicare Law to Notify Patients of Loophole in Nursing Home Coverage

  • CMS steps up enforcement on Medicaid users getting marketplace tax credits

  • How to Manage Family Finances While Taking Care of an Elderly Parent

  • Decrease Medicaid beneficiaries in nursing homes, CMS says

  • Genworth stock surges on better financial report

  • CMS Will Begin Immediate Imposition of Penalties

  • Medicaid’s Role in Meeting Seniors’ Long-Term Services and Supports Need

  • 5 reasons Medicaid kills long-term care insurance sales: Economists look at how the government program knocks out the competition

  • CMS extends ban on new home healthcare agencies in select markets

  • How a Medicare Fix Backfires: Certificate of need laws have failed to reduce health care spending, and states should work to repeal them

  • CMS boosts skilled nursing payments by 2.4%

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, August 5, 2016, 11:35 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  HALF A CENTURY OF BAD MEDICAID LTC POLICY

LTC Comment:  Medicaid long-term care policy is a classic story of good intentions leading to unfortunate consequences, after the ***news***

*** MEDICAID AND LTCI:  One of this week’s LTC Clippings perfectly teed up our new report, due in draft August 15 and for publication this fall.  If you don’t receive our daily LTC Clippings that highlight all the news, articles, reports and data you need to see ahead of your prospects or competition, then contact Damon to subscribe at 206-283-7036.

8/2/2016, “5 reasons Medicaid kills long-term care insurance sales:  Economists look at how the government program knocks out the competition,” by Allison Bell, LifeHealthPRO

Quote:  “You know that competition from the Medicaid nursing home benefit makes selling private long-term care insurance hard.  So, what does that cash-strapped, bureaucracy-plagued program have that private LTCI never really had, even back when interest rates were high enough that insurers felt comfortable with writing private LTCI?  Mariacristina De Nardi and two colleagues have used the tools of economics to wrestle with that question in a new paper on Medicaid insurance in old age. The paper is on track to appear in an upcoming issue of the American Economic Review, a major academic journal.

LTC Comment:  The paper described in this article is at the heart of the evidence we’ll adduce in the Center’s new report referenced in last Friday’s “LTC Bullet:  New Report Preview.” ***


LTC BULLET:  HALF A CENTURY OF BAD MEDICAID LTC POLICY

LTC Comment:  Political satirist P. J. O’Rourke says “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.”  For all intents and purposes, long-term care has been free—or more precisely, very highly subsidized—since 1965.  So, by now, we have a pretty good idea of what free long-term care costs—a lot!

I spent the last couple days compiling information and quotes that explain how Medicaid made long-term care free.  Some highlights follow.  Find the whole sorry story here:  http://centerltc.com/Bibliography.htm.  In a nutshell:  Medicaid made nursing home care “virtually free for life” to anyone who couldn’t afford it.  From 1965 until 1980, anyone could give away everything with impunity to qualify.  Starting in 1980, many Congresses and Presidents have tried repeatedly to target Medicaid’s scarce resources to people in need.  But Medicaid planners have always circumvented legislative intent in order to divert critically needed funds from the poor to their affluent clients. 

A fascinating historical pattern evolved over the past 50 years.  The U.S. suffers a recession, tax receipts plummet, welfare rolls skyrocket, public budgets go bust, and government clamps down on Medicaid planning.  Then recovery sets in, tax receipts go back up, welfare rolls recede, and the politically sensitive rules intended to protect Medicaid for the poor go by the wayside.  Then another recession occurs, and so on.

What’s different this time around is that after the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, two things have not happened that always happened before.  We’ve seen no new measures to discourage Medicaid planning abuses and we’ve experienced very little economic recovery.  Why?  Federal debt and unfunded entitlement liabilities have increased enormously, but this time around no one seems to care.  Artificially low, Fed-induced interest rates have enabled careless deficit spending and political denial of the historically inevitable consequences.  Hence no new legislation like DRA ’05 to control Medicaid planning. 

Will the piper have to be paid?  Will the next recession, following the biggest credit bubble in history, blow up federal entitlements, including Medicaid, and lead to a whole new world of long-term care financing?  Or can the government and people go on forever defying economic gravity, borrowing to fund life styles they cannot afford, and pushing the unfunded liabilities into the future?  That’s the climax we’ll have to wait to see, but you can follow the history leading up to it right now.

Excerpts from a Bibliography of Books, Elder Law Treatises, and Law Journal Articles on Medicaid Planning Listed Chronologically
with Dates of
U.S. Economic Recessions
and
Passage of Major Legislation to Control Medicaid Planning

July 30, 1965:  President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicaid into law providing “medical assistance on behalf of . . .  aged, blind, or permanently and totally disabled individuals, whose income and resources are insufficient to meet the costs of necessary medical services.”

“Because of the attention focused on Medicare, Title XIX was passed by Congress with little public notice.  This relative obscurity was lost when the cost of New York State's Medicaid program (effective May 1, 1966) became known.  Federal cost estimates for the entire Medicaid Program were shown to have been grossly underestimated."  (p. 63)
“Under Title XIX a state may also provide medical assistance to some of the ‘medically indigent.’ This group includes all persons whose income is high enough to meet daily living expenses, but not sufficient to meet medical bills.”  (p. 64)
“Several different methods of limiting the federal contributions to state Medicaid programs were considered over the objections of liberal, mostly urban, Congressmen. After long debate, the method finally selected was to place limits on the annual incomes of the medically indigent for whom federal matching funds would be available.”  (p. 83)
_________, “Medicaid:  The Patchwork Crazy Quilt,” Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems, 5 Colum. J.L. & Soc. Probs. 62 1969 

January to July 1980:  Recession.

December 5, 1980:  President Jimmy Carter signed the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1980, imposing the first restriction on asset transfers done in order to qualify for Medicaid.

Spring 1981:  First law journal article on Medicaid planning published:

"Careful planning even under adverse state law will still be able to achieve the goal of excluding an applicant's resources for purposes of determining Medicaid eligibility." 
William G. Talis, "Medicaid as an Estate Planning Tool," Massachusetts Law Review, Spring 1981, p. 94 
Also:  "The article also describes ways clients might reduce exposure to health costs through (1) creation of various trust devices, (2) conveyance of remainder interests in property, (3) conversion of property into assets exempted from eligibility tests for medicaid, and (4) outright transfers of property. If a client can be rendered eligible for medicaid, medical expenses will be paid in full and estate assets will be conserved. Moreover, while the Department of Public Welfare may seek recovery for payments made on behalf of elderly recipients from their estates, careful planning can lawfully defeat the Department's ability to obtain indemnification."  (Ibid., p. 90)

July 1981 to November 1982:  Recession

September 3, 1982:  President Reagan signed the Tax Equity and Financial Responsibility Act authorizing state Medicaid programs to penalize asset transfers, place liens on real property, and recover benefits from the estates of deceased recipients.

"With long-range planning, the cooperation of relatives, some good health, and maybe a little luck, couples will be in a position to negotiate between the rock and a hard place that Congress has placed in the Medicaid path." 
Gill Deford, "Medicaid Liens, Recoveries, and Transfer of Assets after TEFRA," Clearinghouse Review, June 1984, p. 139 

"By helping clients plan before the occurrence of disability, by advising clients to make permissible transfers of assets, and by making them aware of relevant administrative regulations on deeming, lawyers can aid in preserving funds to the greatest extent possible." 
William E. Oriol, The Complex Cube of Long-Term Care, American Health Planning Association, Washington, D.C., 1985, p. 216

April 7, 1986:  President Reagan signed the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 restricting the use of Medicaid Qualifying Trusts. 

"Many people assume that a family's resources must be virtually exhausted before any help will be available through the Medicaid program.  In fact, people in Washington who need nursing home care can benefit from medicaid without devastating their families." 
Peter Greenfield and Barbara A. Isenhour, "Medicaid for Nursing Home Care:  Some Estate Planning Considerations," Washington State Bar News, Volume 40, Number 6, June 1986, p. 29 

"...many individuals find it desirable to shelter their income and assets in order to remain eligible for public assistance.  A trust is often recommended to achieve such a shelter....  Trust mechanisms have been and will continue to be an important aspect of planning for Medicaid eligibility." 
C. Wesley Martin, "Medicaid Qualifying Trusts," Connecticut Probate Law Journal, Vol. 3, Fall 1987, pps. 185, 208 

July 1, 1988:  President Ronald Reagan signed the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988 making asset transfer penalties mandatory and expanding the look-back period to 30 months.

"So is there any practical way to juggle assets to qualify for Medicaid--before losing everything?  The answer is yes!  By following the tips on these pages, an older person or couple can save most or all of their savings, despite our lawmakers' best efforts...Here are the best options:  Hide money in exempt assets...Transfer assets directly to children tax-free...Pay children for their help...Juggle assets between spouses...Pass assets to children through a spouse...Transfer a home while retaining a life estate...Change wills and title to property...Write a durable power of attorney...Set up a Medicaid Trust...Get a divorce...." 
Armond D. Budish, Avoiding the Medicaid Trap:  How to Beat the Catastrophic Costs of Nursing-Home Care, Henry Holt, New York, 1989, p. 34 
Also:  “By paying off a mortgage, they can magically change assets like cash, which would be lost to a nursing home, into assets that can't be touched....  Since there's no limit on the value of a house that they can buy, they may be able to hide most or all of their assets with this one simple technique.  This is a giant loophole, which they should feel free to take advantage of."  (Ibid., p. 38
Also:  "If the person is married, household goods, a car and personal effects are protected without regard to their value!....  For example, oriental rugs or paintings that appreciate in value may be worthwhile investments that add beauty and hide assets at the same time."  (Ibid., p. 39)  Also:  "Here's another loophole that a nursing-home resident may want to consider.  He or she could buy a brand-new--and expensive--ring right before going into a nursing home.  After all, the law doesn't limit this exclusion to rings purchased at the time of a wedding or engagement."  (Ibid.

"...a common misconception among applicants is that excess resources must be spent only on doctors, hospitals, nurses, medication, and nursing homes.  Nowhere in the law is this indicated.  Quite literally, an applicant could spend all of his or her assets on something 'frivolous,' such as a 90th birthday celebration of Ziegfield Follies proportion and this should not be cause for denial of Medicaid, because the applicant received 'value' for his or her money." 
Ira S. Schneider and Ezra Huber, Financial Planning for Long-Term Care, Human Sciences Press, Inc., New York, 1989, p. 142

July 1990 to March 1991:  Recession

"It's common...for people to have undocumented and untraceable assets, such as cash and bearer bonds.  If these items were to be surreptitiously transferred, their existence would probably not become known to the authorities.  No doubt it is improper to tell clients to make such transfers, but the temptation to hint at them, or to scrupulously avoid finding out if the client has a safe deposit box or undocumented assets, however reprehensible, is strong." 
Peter J. Strauss, Robert Wolf, and Dana Shilling, Aging and the Law, Commerce Clearing House, Inc., Chicago, 1990, p. 16

"While there are rules against giving away most assets, there are no prohibitions against simply spending money...options might include travel to visit relatives or see the world, or one last tour of Reno's finest establishments." 
Michael Gilfix and Mark Woolpert, "Medi-Cal Asset Preservation and Your Clients or Estate Planning is Not Enough!:  A California Elder Law Institute Continuing Legal Education Seminar," Gilfix Management Group, Palo Alto, California, 1990, p. 42

"The most common problem put to the elderlaw practitioner is how to keep an older person's assets within the family and yet allow the person to qualify for Medicaid." 
John J. Regan, "Financial Planning for Health Care in Older Age:  Implications for the Delivery of Health Services," Law, Medicine and Health Care, Vol. 18, No. 3, Fall 1990, pps. 275-6 
Also:  "It is important to emphasize to the older client, who may be reluctant to utilize Medicaid because of pride or possible stigma, that participation in Medicaid is not a gratuity but an entitlement like use of a public library or a public park." 
John J. Regan, Tax, Estate & Financial Planning for the Elderly, Matthew Bender, New York, 1991, 1993 update, p. 2-44 
Also:  "If a couple has a second vacation home, consider having the couple rent that home and then claim the rental income as necessary for maintaining the community spouse's minimum monthly maintenance needs allowance.  If the vacation home is considered necessary for this purpose, it is no longer a countable resource."  (Ibid., p. 10-68)

"It is true, almost to the point of being a cliche, that benefit programs, whether public or private, are bonanzas for lawyers." 
Lawrence A. Frolik and Alison P. Barnes, "An Aging Population:  A Challenge to the Law," The Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 42, No. 3, March 1991, p. 715

"An alternative to resource gifting and conversion is the purchase of an annuity...the Medicaid estate can usually be reduced by the amount of countable assets used to purchase an annuity."  Jonathan M. Forster, "Favorable Investment Vehicles for Public Benefits Planning (Part 1:  Resource Planning and the Annuity," Elder Law Advisory, No. 7, October 1991, p. 2

"The new amendment to the Social Security Act (Pub. L. No. 101-239, 103 Stat. 2465, amending 42 U.S.C. 1382b(a)(3)) allows for the exemption of all income-producing property used in a trade or business....  In other words, there is now an unlimited exemption for such property....  Property used in a trade or business is excluded regardless of its value or rate of return....  Critical provisions for advocates to note are that liquid resources used in the trade or business may be excluded from countable resources, and that no limit is placed on such resources (POMS SI 01130.501C.5).  Thus, advocates may exclude large amounts of cash in business operating accounts, trust accounts, and the like, that are necessary for use in the business....  Ultimately, Medicaid recipients will want to transfer their property to avoid the imposition of a lien and recovery from the estate for Medicaid expenditures.  Since business, farms, and ranches in current use are exempt property, they can theoretically be transferred without penalty.  No restrictions are placed on the transfer of this exempt property, unlike the transfer of a home (42 U.S.C. 1396(c))." 
Rebecca L. Shandrick, "The Family Business:  An Exempt Resource for Medicaid Eligibility," The ElderLaw Report, Vol. 4, No. 3, October 1992, pps. 1-4, emphasis in the original

"We have committed an act of piracy--we have broken into the Fort Knox of Government benefits and uncovered the best legal strategies available to you for claiming your share of the gold from the Government's treasure chest....  We'll explain how you can 'strike gold' in the Social Security [including SSI], Medicare, and Medicaid programs....  With this book we are handing you the treasure map, deciphered from a mine of unintelligible government rules and regulations." 
Amy Budish and Armond D. Budish, Golden Opportunities:  Hundreds of Money-Making, Money-Saving Gems for Anyone over Fifty, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1993, p. xiii

"Another asset preservation strategy is for a community spouse to 'just say no' to paying for the other spouse's nursing home care.  Say Mrs. Jones holds more money than the state allows for her husband to qualify for Medicaid coverage.  If it can be shown that she simply refuses to spend her money on her husband's care, Medicaid coverage will be allowed for Mr. Jones if other easily met requirements are satisfied.  This approach has been particularly successful in New York." 
Michael Gilfix, "Elders and Nursing Home Expenses:  Preserving Client Assets," Trial, Vol. 29, No. 6, June 1993, p.38

August 10, 1993:  President Bill Clinton signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 making estate recovery mandatory, expanding the look back period to five years, eliminating the cap of asset transfer penalties, and prohibiting “pyramid divestment.”

"Old Tactics That are Still Good:  Give Assets Away.  Giving assets away [three years in advance] is still the simplest and easiest way to deal with the problem, although it leaves the elderly client totally dependent upon the good faith of their children or others.  Spend Assets on Exempt Items.  Another tactic is to spend the assets on property that won't count for Medicaid purposes...[such as] a home...a new car...household goods...funeral expenses...and...a burial plot...A client can also reduce his net worth by spending money on travel, which many elderly people enjoy.  Pay Children for Their Help.  Be sure that any payments to children for their services are pursuant to a written agreement, so it's clear that they are not just gifts.  Give Assets to the Other Spouse, a Minor Child, or a Child Who is Disabled.  [Such gifts] will not be penalized.  The Other Spouse Can Petition for an Increased Asset Allowance.  The other spouse can argue that additional assets are needed to generate income...[thereby sheltering in one example an additional] $200,000.  The Other Spouse Can Refuse to Support the Applicant....  In New York, this tactic can be successful even if the spouse's refusal is completely artificial; it is used in that state frequently.  Divorce....  The idea is for the spouse to be given a larger portion of the couple's assets, with little or no support awarded to the applicant.  Sign a Durable Power of Attorney.  All clients should sign a durable power of attorney so that if they become incapacitated, someone else can shelter their assets." 
Lawyers Weekly, September 27, 1993

"Medicaid is a middle-class entitlement, just like the deduction for mortgage interest and IRAs."  Mark Heffner, former Rhode Island state legislator and RI Coordinator of NAELA in Providence, RI Journal, February 22, 1994

August 21, 1996:  President Bill Clinton signed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (Throw Granny in Jail Law) making it a crime to transfer assets for less than fair market value for the purpose of qualifying for Medicaid.

"The chart at the end of these materials labeled 'The Home in Medicaid Planning'...contains a matrix with 10 rows and 8 columns.  Each row contains a method of protecting the family home from Medicaid estate recovery.  Each column contains a Medicaid or tax issue which must be considered when selecting a method of protecting the family home." 
NAELA Conference 1996 Proceedings, Session 7, p. 1

"As a practical matter, if your wife needs nursing home care in the future you may want to privately pay the nursing home (three months up front) for purposes of expediting your wife's placement in a nursing home, unless she is eligible for Medicare benefits.  Once your wife is in the nursing home and eligible for Medicaid, you should immediately proceed to file for Medicaid Nursing Home Care....  Since your assets are in excess of the CSRA [$652,550] at the time your wife files a medicaid application for nursing home care, then it is critical that you submit a 'Spousal Refusal' to contribute your assets to pay for her care, or else she will be denied Medicaid....  We are available to assist you in the preparation and filing of Medicaid applications and the coordination of Medicaid coverage, including monthly budgeting....  If you receive a denial of benefits...[o]ur firm is available to assist you with regard to any Medicare claims and appeals....  [S]hould your wife require such care, you can obtain Medicaid eligibility for her by transferring assets into your name and your utilization of spousal refusal....  Another alternative would be for you to purchase an annuity with the assets in excess of the CSRA....  This approach will allow your wife to qualify for nursing home care without a transfer penalty and without spousal refusal....  Your wife can transfer her assets into a trust for your sole benefit.  This transfer would not subject her to a Medicaid period of ineligibility....  [T]he CSRA should be enhanced to $200,000 from $76,740....  If the consultation exceeds the one-half hour, then you will be charged based upon my hourly rate of $275 and my legal assistant's rate is $100."  NAELA Conference 1996 Proceedings, Session 9, pps. 34-38, 46

"The PAN [private annuity] and the SCIN [Self-Canceling Installment Note] are clearly effective but highly underutilized tools in the Medicaid planning area.  As practitioners become more familiar with their tax, legal, and Medicaid planning benefits, their popularity will undoubtedly increase to the point where Congress will again change the laws." 
NAELA Conference 1996 Proceedings, Session 14:  "Making Resources Disappear--The Magic of Private Annuities and Self-Canceling Installment Notes," p. 12

"By using a LCC [Life Care Contract], the applicant is outside the purview of the disqualifying transfer section of Title 42 because the contract anticipates a transfer for value and not a gift.  Therefore, to the extent that the elder's assets are transferred pursuant to this contract, the elder will incur no period of ineligibility....  The LCC is a transfer for value and can either be structured as a lump sum transaction where the entire property is transferred at one time, or can be structured to payout on a month to month basis....  Using this one payment method, an elder can transfer a large number of assets and shortly thereafter qualify for Medicaid if the caregiver can prove that the medical condition causing the disability was totally unanticipated (massive stroke)....  IT DOESN'T MATTER IF MOM HAS A MASSIVE STROKE AND IS A CANDIDATE FOR LONG TERM CARE SIX MONTHS LATER...." 
NAELA Conference 1996 Proceedings, Session 6:  "Uses, Terms and Provisions of Lifecare Contracts for Elders," pps. 1-2, 4, 11                   

"Many of our clients own a second piece of real property--a summer home, a mountain cabin, an investment.  It is typically viewed as an impediment to Medi-Cal eligibility when one spouse enters a nursing home.  Assume that a couple's second (non-exempt) residence is worth $225,000 and that other cash assets are relatively modest, perhaps only $80,000.  Rather than sell this property, as Medi-Cal would likely advise, protect it.  In tallying their assets, the appraised value, not the fair market value, determines the value of the real property asset for Medi-Cal purposes.  Assume further that the appraised value is $40,000, entirely likely in light of [California] Proposition 13.  The community spouse, the spouse living at home, could take out a loan in the amount of $40,000 and, for purposes of Medi-Cal, reduce its effective value to $0.  The borrowed money could then be used to add on to the residence, buy needed items, invest in other exempt resources, or be protected by an increased Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) order." 
Michael Gilfix, "Practice Tip:  Protect Non-Residential Real Property and Medi-Cal," Gilfix ElderLaw News Alert, Vol. VII, No. 1, February 1997, p. 3 
Also:  "Payment for personal services can be part of a 'spend-down' when a Medi-Cal application may be submitted in one's future.  Depending on the amount of services rendered, this could justify $1,000 or perhaps $2,000 per month when care and support are very substantial....  [F]unds used for the payment of services might otherwise have to be invested in payment for nursing home services at the private rate."  (Ibid., p. 12)

"Cemeteries may do a good or bad job of maintaining grave sites.  And they may do a good job today, but drop the ball years from now.  A new service is being offered to provide assurance that sites will be maintained for the next 25 years.  Depending on the plan purchased, the one-time fee ranges from $3,800 to $13,500.  The company offering the plan, Westland Perpetual Trust, Inc., reports that payment of the fee has been permitted as a legitimate Medicaid spend down.  The service is offered nationwide." 
Elder Law Report, May 1997, p. 12

"Medicaid planning is still practiced by competent people of all socio-economic classes in all fifty states....  In this article, we argue that guardians should be permitted to perform Medicaid planning for their wards....  [T]he term 'Medicaid Planning' is used in this article to mean the process of lawfully rearranging an individual's assets so that the individual qualifies for Medicaid under the law while the assets are sheltered for use by a spouse, children or others....  These techniques...include:  divesting assets generally, transferring assets between spouses, transferring assets to trusts, converting assets, and divorcing a spouse....  [T]he couple may avoid a claim by the state to recover the Medicaid payments by transferring all spousal assets to the sole ownership of the community spouse after the institutionalized spouse's application for benefits has been approved....  Another sheltering strategy is to convert available, countable assets into noncountable exempt assets.  For example, money in checking or savings accounts may be used, without creating a period of ineligibility, to purchase or improve a home, pay off a mortgage, buy a cemetery lot, pre-pay funeral services, pre-pay residence-related taxes and insurance, or even pay outstanding bills, including legal fees....  Divorce is one of the more extreme Medicaid planning strategies.  A successful divorce, in which both parties are represented by independent counsel, and containing an agreement in which most or all of the couple's assets are given to the community spouse, can result in almost immediate Medicaid eligibility for an institutionalized spouse....  The mere fact that Congress and the states have enacted statutes and regulations expressly permitting and endorsing Medicaid planning is clearly an expression of the public policy to allow such planning." 
Hal Fliegelman and Debora C. Fliegelman, “Giving Guardians the Power to do Medicaid Planning,” Wake Forest Law Review, Vol. 32, No. 2, Summer 1997, pps. 341-2, 359, 362-4, 373

August 5, 1997:  President Bill Clinton signed the Balanced Budget Act (Throw Granny’s Lawyer in Jail Law) repealing the criminalization of asset transfer to qualify for Medicaid, but making it a crime to recommend asset transfers for the purpose of qualifying for Medicaid in exchange for a fee.

"Q:  Can my parents give away a part of their life savings and still qualify for Medicaid?  A:  Yes.  The law lets people give a portion of their savings to children or others to protect those funds from being tabulated as assets.  Giving away money can help your parents reduce their funds to a level that makes them eligible for Medicaid.  Q:  How else can my parents protect part of their life savings?  A:  Here are three of the most popular planning strategies. ...1.  Put money into exemptions [i.e. home improvements, a new car, etc.].  ...2.  Create specialized trusts.  Medicaid permits the creation of a variety of specialized trusts that preserve assets.  Your parents might transfer their home to an irrevocable Medicaid trust, which allows them to live at home for life, obtain Medicaid coverage if they must enter a nursing home, pass the residence to heirs at death, and avoid capital-gains taxes.  ...3.  Purchase an immediate Medicaid annuity or promissory note.  Let's return to the example of your parents with $100,000 in assets when dad enters a nursing home.  Your mom takes $50,000 of that and buys (in her name) an immediate Medicaid-qualified annuity from an insurance company.  ...Dad qualifies for Medicaid immediately, and Mom remains financially secure because she keeps all the income.  She may even save and accumulate the annuity payments without jeopardizing her husband's Medicaid coverage." 
Armond Budish writing in Family Circle, November 1, 1997, p. 46

March 2001 to November 2001:  Recession

“True, Medicaid planning remains a core element in any elder law practice and is probably the leading source of clients and revenues for almost all elder law attorneys.” (pps. 3-4)
“Of course, elder law is not a fringe practice. For thousands of attorneys, elder law represents the core of their practice.”  (p. 13)
“The practice of elder law, however, is not yet fully formed, because there are many parts of it that could either expand or contract, such as nursing home and assisted-living litigation. Will elder law attorneys perceive suing nursing homes and assisted-living facilities for negligent care as part of their practice, or will it be captured by personal injury attorneys?”  (p. 14) 
Lawrence A. Frolik, “The Developing Field of Elder Law Redux: Ten Years After,” The Elder Law Journal,  10 Elder L.J. 1 2002

“Unfortunately, members of the Medicaid planning bar have sometimes been their own worst enemies. For example, at the May 1996 Symposium of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, two prominent NAELA members (one a former President of the organization) gave a presentation on Medicaid planning. Using the format of a skit in which other NAELA members played the roles of the family, the presenters took the audience through a session in which an elderly couple, whose net worth exceeded $750,000, was counseled on how to arrange their affairs to attain Medicaid eligibility. Among the assets in the couple's portfolio was a vacation home. The skit became fodder for critics of Medicaid eligibility planning and indeed was widely criticized by other NAELA members.”  (p. 135) 
Timothy L. Takacs and David L. McGuffey, “Medicaid Planning:  Can It Be Justified?  Legal and Ethical Implications of Medicaid Planning,” William Mitchell Law Review, 29 Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 111 2002-2003

February 8, 2006:  President  George W. Bush signed the Deficit Reduction Act placing the first cap ever on Medicaid’s home equity exemption, limiting the half-a-loaf loophole, amending the annuity rules, and unencumbering the Long-Term Care Partnership Program.

“Can an elderly husband really refuse to support his wife in a nursing home by shifting the financial burden to Medicaid? Yes, says the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, by employing a Medicaid-planning strategy called ‘spousal refusal.’
“Due to the high cost of nursing home care, elderly people and their families have increasingly turned to Medicaid-planning strategies to qualify for Medicaid benefits and ease their financial burden.' Medicaid planning involves taking measures to preserve one's assets in order to gain Medicaid eligibility by meeting the program's financial criteria. One such Medicaid-planning strategy is spousal refusal, under which a healthy spouse refuses to financially support a spouse in need of nursing home care.  Spousal refusal has been in existence since 1988, following Congress' attempt to fix the Medicaid system to prevent spousal impoverishment, which is when a healthy spouse ends up poor after paying for an ailing partner's care.  (p. 487) 
Andrew D. Wone, “Don't Want to Pay for Your Institutionalized Spouse?  The Role of Spousal Refusal and Medicaid in Funding Long-Term Care, The Elder Law Journal, Volume 14, 14 Elder L.J. 485 2006

“Now that the annuity rules have been greatly clarified, the annuity industry will likely accept this gift from Congress and develop annuity products which comply with DRA.”  (p. 17) 
Stan Miller and D. Scott Schrader, Guest columnist:  Rebecca H. Winburn, “Advanced Planning Strategies:  Medicaid Planning After the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005,” Journal of Practical Estate Planning, April - May 2006, 8 J. Pract. Est. Plan. 15 2006-2007

December 2007 to June 2009:  The Great Recession

“President George W. Bush, in a statement made when he signed the DRA, explained:
The bill tightens the loopholes that allowed people to game the system by transferring assets to their children so they can qualify for Medicaid benefits. Along with Governors of both parties, we are sending a clear message: Medicaid will always provide help for those in need, but we will never tolerate waste, fraud, or abuse.
“The policy reasons set out by former President Bush for the passage of the DRA as it relates to Medicaid are clear: Medicaid's mission is to help the needy, the sickest and poorest members of society, without waste, fraud, or abuse.”  (pps. 347-8)
“Before the DRA, there was a huge gap between what Medicaid law allowed and Medicaid policy, as expressed by President Bush. The DRA was passed to bring Medicaid law closer to Medicaid policy.'”  (p. 350) 
Catherine M. Reif,  “A Penny Saved Can Be a Penalty Earned:  Nursing Homes, Medicaid Planning, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, and the Problem of Transferring Assets,” NYU Review of Law & Social Change, 34 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 339 2010

“While Medicaid was arguably created as a ‘safety net’ program with the sole purpose of providing health care for the poorest members of society, it is common for Medicaid to pay for LTC services for elderly individuals from a variety of economic backgrounds.”  (p. 358)
“It is not uncommon for couples and individuals to engage in a practice often referred to as ‘Medicaid Planning,’ which one commentary defines as ‘the legal fiction of 'rearranging assets' to make someone poor on paper so that he or she may qualify for Medicaid.’ It is well established that such ‘Medicaid Planning’ is legal and that it is professionally ethical, or acceptable, for attorneys and financial planners to assist clients in such planning. Nonetheless, the Medicaid planning and spend down processes are quite complex, potentially highly financially disruptive, and may lead to inequitable results. Moreover, although legal, Medicaid planning is often perceived as ‘gaming the system.’”  (p. 359)
Andrew M. Hyer, Elizabeth L. Hannah, Ross E. Burkhart, and Sarah E. Toevs, “Paying for Long-Term Care in the Gem State: A Survey of the Federal and State Laws Influencing How Long Term Care Services for Idaho's Growing Aged and Disabled Populations Are-and Will Be-Funded, Idaho Law Review, 48 Idaho L. Rev. i 2011-2012

“As discussed more fully in Section IX purchasing an annuity for the community spouse with excess resources can immediately establish eligibility of the institutional spouse irrespective of the amount of excess resources.”  (p. 169)
“As discussed in Section IX, the transfer of asset rules do not foreclose all planning opportunities. It is ironic that more planning opportunities remain for persons of substantial means than for those persons of lesser means. This is an irony quite familiar to those who do tax planning.” (p. 170)
“While not required, transferring title of exempt resources solely into the name of the community spouse can avoid ineligibility for the nursing home spouse in the event the resources are sold, as well as protect the assets from Medicaid estate recovery.”  (p. 183)
“Based on the foregoing analysis we can now set out various planning options to reduce excess resources in the most advantageous manner possible.  We begin by looking at the options available to single persons and then consider the additional options available to married persons.” (p. 188)

Gifting and Waiting Out the Look-Back Period or the Ineligibility Period”  (p. 188)
“Purchasing Exempt Resources”  (p. 190)
“Consuming Excess Resources”  (p. 190)
“Transfer the Home to Certain Children or Siblings” (p. 191)
“Establish Trusts for Disabled Persons Less Than 65 or For a Disabled Child of Any Age” (p. 191)
“Disinheritance or Third Party Special Needs Trusts” (p. 192)
“Transfer Exempt Assets from the Institutional spouse to the Community Spouse”  (p. 193
“Revise the Community Spouse's Estate Plan  (p. 193)
“Purchase an Annuity for the Community Spouse”  (p. 194)
“Requesting an Excess Resource Allowance”  (p. 195)
“Divorce, Legal Separation, or Non-Binding Unions” (p. 195)
“Using Washington State as an example, this article has attempted to provide a road map for practitioners seeking to guide their clients through the long term care planning process. Most of the legal requirements and planning techniques described here have application in other states as well. There are nuances of difference and, of course, the applicable authorities differ from state to state. Still the fundamentals are reasonably universal since Medicaid's basic architecture arises under federal law.”  (p. 196) 
Sean R. Bleck, Barbara Isenhour, and John A. Miller, Preserving Wealth and Inheritance Through Medicaid Planning for Long-Term Care,” MSU Journal of Medicine and Law, 17 Mich. St. U. J. Med. & L. 153 2012

“This Article suggests that the United States also maintains a secret welfare state. The secret welfare state exists because of lawyers' ubiquitous use of questionable practices in representing clients before benefit-granting government agencies, which enable thousands of individuals to collect public benefits who may not qualify for them.”  (p. 1847)
“The funding for SSDI and Medicaid is limited. In assisting relatively advantaged individuals to obtain SSDI, Medicaid, and other public benefits programs, lawyers may be jeopardizing these programs' sustainability and the welfare of those who depend upon them.  (p. 1847)
“This Article concludes by calling for additional research on the role of lawyers in the American welfare state. In particular, it may be possible that the legal profession's central role in the distribution of public benefits is an obstacle to a fairer and more transparent social safety net.”  (p. 1849)
“Studies estimate that anywhere from 5 percent to 54 percent of current Medicaid beneficiaries have engaged in Medicaid planning. Even if the lower estimates are accurate, as Medicaid planning is generally used by more affluent individuals, it predominantly benefits the nonpoor.” (p. 1855)
“Footnote 88:  While fee information for Medicaid planning is not as readily available, according to the American Council on Aging, attorneys' fees can range from $2500 for individuals with relatively simple estates to $10,000 for individuals with significant assets. See Am. Council on Aging, Medicaid Planners: Pros & Cons of Public and Private Assistance, MEDICAID PLANNING ASSISTANCE, http://www.medicaidplanningassistance.org/types-of-medicaidplanners#elderlaw-attorney (last visited Mar. 27, 2016) [http://perma.cc/EJ5L-2RWR].  Nonlawyers who provide Medicaid planning services generally charge less.”  (p. 1857)
“The American welfare state is sustaining relatively advantaged individuals and their lawyers as well as the truly needy. In the long-term, the United States would be well served by a more transparent public benefits regime.”  (p. 1864)
Milan Markovic, “Lawyers and the Secret Welfare State, Fordham Law Review, 84 Fordham L. Rev. 1845 2015-2016

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Updated, Monday, August 1, 2016, 11:12 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-030:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Nursing Home Bills Are Swamping Medicaid

  • Alzheimer’s researchers seethe over years of missteps after latest drug failure

  • Low interest rates a growing threat to Social Security

  • The Mega-List of Caregiver Support Strategies and Resources

  • 7 (relatively) easy insurer ideas for saving long-term care insurance

  • Trying to find adequate elder care is a bureaucratic and personal nightmare

  • When Aging Parents Need Help With Financial Tasks

  • How to solve California's housing shortage? Build 'granny flats' in homeowners' backyards

  • Senior surprise: Getting switched with little warning into Medicare Advantage

  • What you need to know about the Democratic platform

  • Lawmakers want answers to long-term care premium hikes

  • Dementia diagnosis has 'silver lining' for many

  • Nursing Home Residents Still Vulnerable to Abuse

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, July 29, 2016, 10:13 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  NEW REPORT PREVIEW

LTC Comment:  I’ve spent the past several months re-reading four decades of research on long-term care financing by economists, policy analysts, and lawyers.  Our new report due out this fall will tell all, but here’s a preview after the ***news.***

*** OMINOUS PARALLELS:  LTC Clippings subscribers received this item from us today.  Artificially low interest rates forced on the economy by the Federal Reserve are doing to Social Security what they’ve already done to LTC insurance.  To learn more about or subscribe to LTC Clippings, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com. ***

7/28/2016, “Low interest rates a growing threat to Social Security,” by Harvard Zhang, MarketWatch

Quote:  “Record-low yields on U.S. Treasurys endanger the long-run solvency of Social Security and the future retirement benefits for younger generations of Americans, economists say.  Newer Treasury bonds held by the trust fund have been earning less for years, the consequence of sluggish economic growth and persistently low interest rates. The Federal Reserve has kept its benchmark short-term rate at or near zero for more than seven years in an effort to stimulate the economy.  Even with the Fed’s extended easy-money approach, the U.S. economy has not grown fast enough to generate the necessary tax income to help fund all its responsibilities, including Social Security for current and future retirees.”

LTC Comment:  The Fed’s artificially low interest rates hurt LTCI by forcing premium increases so that reserves would suffice to pay future claims.  This article offers a rare observation that the Social Security trust fund faces the same problem, inadequate reserves with too little investment return.  So too Medicare and all the other many government trust funds.  A reckoning looms and when it comes, we’ll all pay higher “premiums,” i.e., taxes, because of government’s reckless monetary and fiscal policy. ***

*** OTHER NEWS:  LTC Clippings this week also addressed “The Mega-List of Caregiver Support Resources,” “7 (relatively) easy insurer ideas for saving long-term care insurance,” “Trying to find adequate elder care is a bureaucratic nightmare,” “When Aging Parents Need Help With Financial Tasks,” “How to solve California's housing shortage?  Build 'granny flats' in homeowners' backyards,” “Senior surprise: Getting switched with little warning into Medicare Advantage,” “Lawmakers want answers to long-term care premium hikes,” “Dementia diagnosis has 'silver lining' for many,” and other important stories.  Let us screen the voluminous media coverage of aging issues and send you the most important stories, reports and data with brief analysis to help it all make sense.  Subscribe to LTC Clippings. ***
 

LTC BULLET:  NEW REPORT PREVIEW

LTC Comment:  I’m almost one week into writing the draft of our new report.  Following are the “Abstract” and the “Introduction” as they stand right now.  Although they may change, this preview should give you a pretty good idea of where the report is headed.  We may offer more draft excerpts in future weeks.  Your feedback, whether complimentary or critical, is always welcome.

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Abstract:  The age wave and fiscal constraints challenge America’s long-term care financing system.  Decades of study commissions, white papers and legislative initiatives have failed to achieve a better way.  But consensus is finally forming around a public policy approach advocated by three similar papers published in February 2016.  That approach is to establish a new, mandatory, publicly financed, long-term care insurance program to cover the catastrophic, back-end long-term care financing risk.  The primary rationale for this new program is that the current system, based on Medicaid, forces people into impoverishment and has failed.  In fact, Medicaid does not require impoverishment and the draconian program blamed for the long-term care financing system’s dysfunctions has never existed.  This paper will explain how Medicaid long-term care financing actually works and why much of the contrary analysis by economists and health policy experts, based on survey data, simulations and modeling, is mistaken, misleading and misguided.  The paper concludes with recommendations to improve long-term care financing for the poor, middle-class and affluent based on free-market principles and individual responsibility without adding another layer of compulsory government involvement. 

Introduction

After decades of struggling unsuccessfully to find a better way to finance long-term care, researchers, industry experts and public policy makers are starting to agree on a general direction for reform.  A consensus is forming around the idea of a mandatory, government-financed program to cover the back-end, catastrophic long-term care risk.  Three reports published in February of this year by Leading Age, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the ad hoc LTC Collaborative offered variations of this plan.[1]  All three relied on research conducted by the Urban Institute (UI) and the actuarial firm Milliman as described in a November 2015 Health Affairs article titled “Financing Long-Term Services and Supports:  Options Reflect Trade- Offs for Older Americans and Federal Spending.”[2]

The Health Affairs article stated that “half of older Americans” will require “a prolonged period” of paid “long-term services and supports,” half of which assistance they will fund “out of pocket,” but because “few people purchase private long-term care insurance” or save sufficiently, “many will eventually turn to Medicaid for help.”  The article concluded and the three reports agreed that among the front-end or back-end, voluntary or mandatory, capped or uncapped financing alternatives considered, “the mandatory options would be more successful than the voluntary versions” and “the comprehensive and back-end mandatory options would be most beneficial.”  A payroll tax like Medicare’s, not subject to a wage cap, should fund a new mandatory public long-term care program based on these principles.  This is the consensus around which a growing number of policy analysts, policy makers, and interest groups are coalescing.

It behooves everyone concerned about long-term care financing to identify and question the assumptions, data, and reasoning behind this growing programmatic consensus.  When we unpack these components, we find several common propositions underpinning them that warrant critical analysis.  For example, does the fact that many people eventually turn to Medicaid for help with long-term care mean they have been forced to spend down into impoverishment by the welfare program’s allegedly draconian income and asset restrictions?  Is it true that half of what people spend for long-term care comes out of their own pockets?  Do too few people buy private long-term care insurance because the product costs too much and delivers too little?  Does it follow from rising long-term care expenditures incurred by a rapidly aging population that the best way to pay for care is through a new, compulsory government program?  America already has a number of centrally planned entitlement programs with high and growing unfunded liabilities.  We should not contemplate adding another without first scrutinizing these and other similar questions.

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LTC Comment:  “Scrutinizing these and other similar questions” is what the remainder of our report will do in detail.  Stay tuned for more.

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Updated, Monday, July 25, 2016, 10:02 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-029:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Behavior Changes May Be First Signs of Alzheimer's

  • Social Security, Medicare shortfalls are elephants in the room - today

  • Long-term care insurance market gets first new issuer in 10 years

  • Money, Personal Preferences Push States on Long-Term Care

  • 5 things state lawmakers want to do about long-term care insurance

  • Federal long-term care premiums rising by triple digits

  • GOP updates medical and long-term care platform provisions

  • Adult children vital to senior living move-ins

  • Debt dims boomers' retirement prospects

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, July 22, 2016, 10:14 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  THE SENIOR FINANCIAL SECURITY PROGRAM, AGAIN

LTC Comment:  Fundamental things apply as time goes by, even in long-term care policy, after the ***news.***

*** TODAY'S LTC BULLET is sponsored by Claude Thau, a GA whose proprietary tools help advisors find clients and reduce the “Ping-Pong” in the LTCi sales process. Help clients make informed final decisions about buying LTCi in 15-20 minutes!  Gauge a client's true interest in a combo product immediately!  Change work-site LTCi sales from a series of proposal deliveries to a single interactive consultation!  Claude is the lead author of the Milliman Broker World LTCi Survey, one of Senior Market Advisor's 10 "Power People" in LTCi in 2007, a past Chair of the Center for Long-Term Care Financing. Test Claude by calling 800-999-3026, x2241 or email him at claudet@targetins.com to ask questions or get references. ***

 

LTC BULLET:  THE SENIOR FINANCIAL SECURITY PROGRAM, AGAIN

In the spring of 1992, I sat before Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson.  He was famous already for pioneering welfare reform and later to become Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Governor Thompson wanted to do for Medicaid long-term care what he’d done already for welfare:  eliminate the program’s counterproductive incentives and incentivize positive solutions.  He asked me to study his state’s Medicaid long-term care program and propose changes to improve it.

On June 26, 1992, I presented this report to Governor Thompson:  “The Senior Financial Security Program:  A Plan for Long-Term Care Reform in Wisconsin.”  Read the full report here.  Its crux follows, but stay tuned for the rest of the story after this excerpt.

-----------

Excerpt from “The Senior Financial Security Program:  A Plan for Long-Term Care Reform in Wisconsin,” by Stephen A. Moses, LTC, Incorporated, June 26, 1992, Kirkland, Washington, pps. 30-31. 

Who are the main parties to the long-term care financing debate and what do they want?

Seniors want access and quality in home or institutional care without impoverishment or welfare.

Taxpayers, and their stewards in government, want limits on Medicaid's explosive growth.

Nursing homes and home care providers want more private patients at full-pay, non-Medicaid rates.

Long-term care insurers want a level playing field without the competition of free public benefits for the upper middle class.

Younger and future generations want to inherit more than a huge public debt.

Today, these constituencies are pulling in opposite directions, drawing and quartering the broader public interest. What could harness their energies in a common purpose?

First, we must establish in principle a moral high ground on which everyone can stand with pride and agreement. This is the common philosophy that I found in Wisconsin:

We have very limited dollars available for public assistance; we must take care of the truly poor and disadvantaged first; the middle class and well-to-do should pay privately for long-term care to the extent they are able without suffering financial devastation; prosperous people who rely on Medicaid for long-term care should reimburse the taxpayers before giving away their wealth to heirs; seniors and their heirs who wish to avoid such recovery from the estate should plan ahead and purchase private long-term care insurance.

Next, we must imagine a program structure that achieves everyone's goals without violating these principles. Such a program would have to do six things:

(1) Maximize income and asset protections for single and married seniors who need long-term care.

(2) Eliminate divestiture and estate recovery avoidance.

(3) Secure property in a beneficiary's possession as a condition of eligibility for publicly financed care. 

(4) Recover publicly financed benefits from estates when dependents no longer need the assets.

(5) Encourage the sale of long-term care insurance as an alternative to public benefits and estate recovery.

(6) Educate the public on the advantages of avoiding Medicaid dependency and paying privately for care.

Finally, we must show how this program delivers the key values that each constituency wants to achieve.

By maximizing income and asset protections, the program eliminates catastrophic spend-down for seniors. By requiring a pay-back from estates, it removes the stigma of welfare.

By making people pay their own way (pay me now or pay me later), the program creates an incentive (now nonexistent) for people to purchase private insurance.

By empowering people to pay privately for care with insurance, it diverts families from dependency on Medicaid.

By sending the home care and nursing facilities more full-pay private patients, the program enhances the providers' commercial viability and reduces their reliance on public financing. By infusing new money into long-term care, it enhances the industry's ability to provide good access to quality care for all patients, private-pay and Medicaid alike.

By making people spend their own money, i.e. their insurance benefits, on care, the program encourages a wide continuum of cost-effective home, community-based, and institutional options.

By stimulating heirs to plan ahead for their own long-term care needs and to protect their parent's estates (i.e. their own inheritances), the program ameliorates the biggest danger we face as a nation from the aging of the baby boom generation.

LTC Comment:  Here’s the rest of the story.  On August 10, 1993, President Clinton signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act into law.  OBRA ’93 incorporated all of the key principles and policies recommended in the Senior Financial Security Program.  It preserved Medicaid’s generous income and asset protections, but tightened controls on Medicaid planning (artificial self-impoverishment) and encouraged responsible LTC planning by making estate recovery mandatory.  OBRA ‘93’s goal was to save Medicaid as a long-term care safety net for the poor by creating stronger incentives for the middle class and affluent to plan early, save invest or insure for LTC, and avoid dependency on public assistance.

Wait, you say, it didn’t turn out that way.  True.  States did not enforce the new rules aggressively.  The federal government did not require their compliance.  The media didn’t publicize the new program.  And the public, unaware that Medicaid payments on their behalf were supposed to be deducted from their estates, did not respond by planning more responsibly for LTC.

So here we are, 24 years later, after dozens of studies, commissions and failed proposals, in the same fix we were in a quarter century ago.  The difference is that we are that much closer to the demographic nightmare we’ve known all along was coming.  Worse, we seem to be on the verge of doubling down on past mistakes by leaning toward a new payroll-financed government program to fund LTC’s catastrophic back-end risk.

At the Center for LTC Reform, we’re working on a new report, due out this fall, aimed at pointing out the error of pursuing such a new public LTC financing program and explaining, again, why pursuing policy based on enhancing the same principles and proposals in the Senior Financial Security Program is a much wiser and promising approach.  Stay tuned.

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Updated, Monday, July 28, 2016, 9:19 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-028:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

  • Care needs greatest determinant of senior living search length

  • 'We don't know if we can pay our bills on time': For some home care workers, hardest job can be getting paid

  • Why 4% of Patients Consume 25% of Medicare Spending

  • Jumper cables and stethoscopes

  • LTCi Premiums Could Rise In Florida

  • 7 ideas for improving long-term care insurance

  • National Health Expenditure Projections, 2015–25: Economy, Prices, And Aging Expected To Shape Spending And Enrollment

  • More Older Americans Cared for at Home

  • Can a Comic Book Change How We See Alzheimer’s?

  • The 2016 Medicare Trustees Report: Is Medicare Doomed?

  • As rates fall, scramble for riskier debt seen at pensions, insurers

  • 5 ways retirees can control long-term health-care costs

#############################

"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

#############################

 

Updated, Friday, July 15, 2016, 11:11 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC Bullet:  LTC Almanac Update (2)

LTC Comment:  We’ve updated the “Almanac of Long-Term Care” in The Zone.  More on the LTC Almanac and today’s update after the ***news.***

*** CLTCR Premium Membership  --  Center for Long-Term Care Reform premium members receive our full suite of individual membership benefits including: 

  • All LTC Bullets and E-Alerts
  • Access to our Members-Only Zone website and Almanac of Long-Term Care
  • Subscription to our Clipping Service
  • Email/phone access to Steve Moses for 24-hour turnaround queries

Our Premium Membership is designed to give you a competitive advantage in your long-term care profession. Your increased knowledge of the critical issues and challenges we face in the field of long-term care service delivery and financing equals improved professional success for you and better LTC services for your clients and for those who have no choice but to rely on scarce public resources. 

Stay on the forefront of professional knowledge and help us fight for rational long-term care policy reform by contacting Damon at 206-283-7036 / damon@centerltc.com to start your Premium Membership immediately or go directly to our secure online subscription page and sign up for as little as $21 per month. ***

LTC BULLET:  LTC ALMANAC UPDATE

LTC Comment:  Center members know and appreciate our "Almanac of Long-Term Care" in The Zone, our password-protected website. 

*** SPECIAL:  We are making access to The Zone, including the "Almanac of Long-Term Care," free another week—today through Friday, July 22, 2016.  To access this introductory peek into The Zone, go to http://www.centerltc.com/members/index.htm and use the following case-sensitive user name and password:  UN:  IntrotoZone / PW:  FreeTrial.  Like what you see?  Then join the Center for Long-Term Care Reform here.  Or contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  ***

The LTC Almanac is divided into 11 sections:

Aging Demographics 
International 
Unfunded Liabilities--Social Security, Medicare, and Budgets 
Long-Term Care 
Caregiving 
Long-Term Care Financing 
Long-Term Care Insurance 
Reverse Mortgages 
Long-Term Care Providers 
Medicaid 
Medicaid Planning   

Each section is divided into sub-sections and under each sub-section we provide a list by date of the most important reports and articles published on the topic, usually with a few highlights and sometimes with analysis.

The Almanac of Long-Term Care is a great way to find statistics you need quickly or to get current on topics you need to know the latest information about.

The Zone and the LTC Almanac are for Center for Long-Term Care Reform members only, except during the current free trial offer.  Join the Center here:  http://www.centerltc.com/support/index.htm.  Call or email Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  He can give you a user name and password to open up The Zone even before your dues payment arrives.  Individual annual memberships are $150.  Premium memberships with access to our “Clipping Service” start at $250.  Premium Elite and “Regional Representative” membership (if you qualify professionally) are $500.  Corporate memberships with many extra benefits start at $1,000.  See our "Membership Levels and Benefits" schedule here.

Caveat:  With time, some hyperlinks go bad.  In a huge document like the "LTC Almanac," we can't keep all the links current all the time.  If you find a bad link, but want to get to the material, contact us.  We often have an electronic copy of the document and we can usually find a current live link.  We'll also fix the link in the LTC Almanac so it will be current again for others.

Suggestion:  Read through the following update to stay current on new resource materials.  Then browse the full LTC Almanac at your leisure.  When you need a quick fact or the latest research on a particular topic, you'll know right where to go.  Enjoy.

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Chapter 1:  Aging Demographics

International  

An Aging World: 2015 International Population Reports
Issued March 2016, U.S. Census Bureau [link]

3/28/2016, “Relatively low percentage of U.S. residents in long-term care: report,” by Lois A. Bowers, McKnight's Senior Living

Quote:  “The percent of the over-65 population living in skilled nursing facilities or other residential care settings or receiving care at home ranges from 0.8% in Poland to 22.1% in Israel, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Of 26 countries ranked in 2013 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in research cited in the report, the United States ranked seventh lowest, with 6.4% of the 65+ population living in SNFs or other residential care settings or receiving home healthcare.  The bureau released “An Aging World: 2015” (PDF) on March 28.

LTC Comment:  If you think we have problems, explore the wide, wide world of long-term care in this report.

Boomer Generation Characteristics

IRI on boomer-expectations-for-retirement-April 2016 URL 

“Boomer Expectations for Retirement 2016 Sixth Annual Update on the Retirement Preparedness of the Boomer Generation,” Insured Retirement Institute (IRI)

4/12/2016, “Trouble Ahead! Baby Boomers’ Retirement Outlook on the Decline,” Advisor Magazine

Quote:  “The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) today released a new research report that found less than a quarter of Baby Boomers, 24 percent, are confident they will have enough savings to last throughout their retirement years. This is the lowest level since IRI began this research study in 2011, when 37 percent of Boomers had this same level of confidence.    The entire report, “Boomer Expectations for Retirement 2016,” is available HERE.”

LTC Comment:  We are now beginning to see the unintended consequences of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid convincing consumers for decades that they do not need to plan privately for retirement income security, health and long-term care.  Today this is just a worry; by the 2030s it will become a national catastrophe of incalculable proportions.

Chapter 3:  Unfunded Liabilities--Social Security, Medicare, Pensions and Budgets

Unfunded Liability Estimates

Cato fiscal-imbalance-book 0416 URL:  http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/fiscal-imbalance-book.pdf  

Jeffrey Miron, “U.S. Fiscal Imbalance,” Cato Institute

See also WSJ:  Inattention-to-the-Deficit Disorder:  By one estimate, the government will spend $117.9 trillion more than it takes in this century.” By George Melloan May 26, 2016 6:07 p.m. ET
http://www.wsj.com/articles/inattention-to-the-deficit-disorder-1464300465

4/6/2016, U.S. Fiscal Imbalance, by Jeffrey Miron, Cato Institute

Quote:  “The U.S. fiscal imbalance—the excess of what we expect to spend, including repayment of our debt, over what government expects to receive in revenue—is large and growing. And with politicians proposing large new expenditures, little is being done to rectify the country’s fiscal health.    As of 2014, the fiscal imbalance stands at $117.9 trillion, with few signs of future improvement even if GDP growth accelerates or tax revenues increase relative to historic norms. Thus the only viable way to restore fiscal balance is to scale back mandatory spending policies, particularly on large health care programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”

LTC Comment:  Our fiscal imbalance of $117.9 trillion is about 6.6 times the U.S. Gross Domestic Product and getting worse all the time.  Fiscal and monetary shenanigans can delay the reckoning, but not prevent it.  The economic vise is closing.  I don’t think the status quo can continue until, much less beyond, the 2030s when boomers start turning 85 (2031) and Social Security (2034) and Medicare (2030) become insolvent. 

Chapter 4:  Long-Term Care

General

CDC on Care Incidence 0216 URL

Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data From the January–September 2015 National Health Interview Survey,” Centers for Disease Control

2/28/2016, “Number of seniors who need personal care help increasing, CDC says,” by Emily Mongan, McKnight's LTC News

Quote:  “The data, released last Tuesday by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, shows 7.2% of seniors required help with activities of daily living in 2015, compared to 6.6% in 1997. The report included eating, bathing, dressing and getting around as personal care needs.    Seniors over age 85 were twice as likely as adults between age 75 and 84 to require personal care help, and were five times as likely as adults age 65 to 74. The report also found 6.4% of white seniors required personal care help, compared to 9.6% of black and 11.3% of Hispanic seniors.  Click here to read the full report, which also includes data on other health issues like diabetes, influenza vaccinations and alcohol consumption.

LTC Comment:  We not only have more seniors, especially those over the critical age of 85, but their rate of needing care is increasing as well.  A dangerous combination!

Chapter 5:  Caregiving

Caregiver Shortages

DOL Mandates Minimum Wage for Home Care Workers 0316 URL:  http://www.dol.gov/whd/homecare/homecare_guide.pdf

“Paying Minimum Wage and Overtime to Home Care Workers:  A Guide for Consumers and their Families to the Fair Labor Standards Act,” U.S. Department of Labor

3/2016, “Paying Minimum Wage and Overtime to Home Care Workers:  A Guide for Consumers and their Families to the Fair Labor Standards Act,” by U.S. Department of Labor

Quote:  “Most home care workers must be paid at least the federal minimum wage and overtime. The relevant question is often who is responsible for making sure these workers are paid according to these FLSA requirements. Whether you are responsible for the worker being paid federal minimum wage and overtime depends on whether you are an “employer” as defined by the FLSA.”

LTC Comment:  Double whammy for LTC financing:  first the Labor Department mandates home care workers receive at least the minimum wage (January 2015).  Then California and New York, and probably more states, increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.  As economic gravity prevails, jobs for home care workers (and hence their availability) will decline and/or they’ll be increasingly replaced by technology such as robots and other assistive devices.  This is a classic case of good intentions with unanticipated consequences, though how can intentions be good when bad consequences are inevitable and recognized by most economists?

Chapter 9:  Long-Term Care Providers

General

CDC on Assisted Living Stats 0216 URL:  http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_03/sr03_038.pdf
“Long-Term Care Providers and Services Users in the United States: Data From the National Study of Long-Term Care Providers, 2013–2014,” Centers for Disease Control

2/24/2016, “CDC report details characteristics of assisted living residents,” by Lois A. Bowers, McKnight's Senior Living

Quote:  “‘Findings on differences and similarities in supply, provision and use, and the characteristics of providers and users of long-term care services, can inform policy and planning to meet the needs of an aging population,’ according to the report, titled ‘Long-Term Care Providers and Services Users in the United States: Data From the National Study of Long-Term Care Providers, 2013–2014’ (PDF).

LTC Comment:  Valuable information well worth your time to review.

Chapter 10:  Medicaid

Medicaid Financing and Burwell Data

Blase-Medicaid-Provider-Taxes-v1 URL 021716 URL:  http://mercatus.org/sites/default/files/Blase-Medicaid-Provider-Taxes-v1.pdf
Medicaid Provider Taxes: The Gimmick That Exposes Flaws with Medicaid’s Financing,” Brian Blase, Mercatus Center, February 2016

2/16/2016, “Biden Was Right: Medicaid Provider Taxes A 'Scam' That Should Be Scrapped,” by Brian Blase, Forbes

Quote:  “In his book, The Price of Politics, renowned journalist Bob Woodward chronicled the 2011 negotiations between the Obama administration and Congress as the sides attempted to reach a deal to trim future budget deficits. One area of common ground between the administration and congressional Republicans centered on Medicaid provider taxes, which happens to be the subject of my most recent study, “Medicaid Provider Taxes: The Gimmick That Exposes Flaws with Medicaid’s Financing,” published today by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.”

LTC Comment:  I’ve called Medicaid provider taxes “Medicaid planning writ large.”  They amount to states gaming the program in a manner similar to the way elder law attorneys artificially impoverish their affluent clients.  Brian Blase’s excellent critique of the practice is right on target with this proviso.  The extra federal revenue generated by provider taxes helps prevent Medicaid’s dismally low LTC provider reimbursement rates from getting even worse.  In the bigger picture, however, this fact is a further indictment of Medicaid LTC financing, which crowds out responsible private planning for long-term care, and not a justification for provider taxes.

Medicaid Services

Heartland on Welfare Report Card 2015 URL:  https://www.heartland.org/sites/default/files/03-18-15_welfare_report_card_final_0.pdf

3/19/2016, “2015 Welfare Reform Report Card,” by Diane Bast, Matthew Glans, Logan Pike, and Gary MacDougal, Heartland Institute

Quote:  “Most state governments can improve the effectiveness of their efforts to help those in poverty. This 50-state report card offers policymakers and the public a roadmap for how it can be done.

LTC Comment:  Trillions spent on welfare have failed to improve the lot of the poor and arguably made it worse.  See which states have done relatively well in fighting poverty and which have fared worse.  This “report card” doesn’t address Medicaid or long-term care financing, but many of the same principles of good public policy apply.

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Updated, Monday, July 11, 2016, 10:18 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-027:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • House panel votes to continue funding for Medicare assistance program

  • Americans underestimate senior care costs [infographic]

  • How a Clinton, Trump, or Johnson Win Will Impact Near and Current Retirees, Part 2

  • NAIC looks at ways to boost LTC policy sales

  • VA health care still has ‘profound deficiencies,’ report says

  • Meet 4 execs who are shaping the insurance industry of the future

  • The 2016 Trustees Report: Yet Another Warning to Congress and the President

  • Antipsychotic use down 27%

  • How Google Street View and exercise bikes are helping Alzheimer's patients to remember

  • MassMutual acquires MetLife’s retail advisors

  • U.S. Cancer Survivors Living Longer

#############################

"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

#############################

 

Updated, Friday, July 8, 2016, 10:00 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

#############################

LTC Bullet:  LTC Almanac Update

LTC Comment:  We’ve updated the “Almanac of Long-Term Care” in The Zone.  More on the LTC Almanac and today’s update after the ***news.***

*** Here are two news items we sent recently to our Clipping Service subscribers that deal with financing the many costs of long-term care:

1.)  07/03/2016, “How to get your kids to provide long-term care for you when you need it most,” by Sarah Anderson, Deseret News

Quote: “Are millennials as unwilling to help their parents and relatives as they age as popular conception would have you think? Not exactly. An opinion piece in Forbes discussed the recent results of the Fidelity Investments Family & Finance Study that interviewed 1,273 parents over the age of 55 and 221 of their adult children older than 25.”

LTC Comment: In many cases, it’s not about the willingness of an adult child to care for an aging parent or what generation they belong to. Ultimately, it’s about mitigating the costs associated with caregiving. Of course, those costs are many: financial, professional, physical, emotional, psychological, etc.

2.)  07/03/2016, “Warning: Healthcare Costs in Retirement May Be Higher Than We Thought,” by Maurie Backman, The Motley Fool  

Quote:  Many of us by now have been exposed to the dire reality of financing healthcare in retirement. For years, Fidelity has been releasing data on estimated retiree healthcare costs, and according to the most recent assessment, a 65-year-old couple retiring today can expect to spend $245,000 over the course of a 20-year retirement, not including nursing home or long-term care expenditures.”

LTC Comment:  We’ve often advised “save, invest or insure for long-term care” but with total healthcare costs in retirement on the rise, this article advocates for all of the above. In other words: save, invest and insure. On the upside, it does so in a way that eschews scare tactics and offers LTCi as a way to mitigate the risk of catastrophic healthcare costs in retirement.

Receive these LTC-relevant news items (with original analysis) in real time and stay on the forefront of professional knowledge by subscribing to our Clipping Service. Contact Damon at 206-283-7036 / damon@centerltc.com to start your subscription immediately or go directly to our secure online subscription page and sign up for $250 per year or $21 per month. Already a Center member? Contact us to add the Clipping Service to your membership for only $100 per year or $8.25 per month. ***

 

LTC BULLET:  LTC ALMANAC UPDATE

LTC Comment:  Center members know and appreciate our "Almanac of Long-Term Care" in The Zone, our password-protected website. 

*** SPECIAL:  We are making access to The Zone, including the "Almanac of Long-Term Care," free for two weeks—today through Friday, July 22, 2016.  To access this introductory peek into The Zone, go to http://www.centerltc.com/members/index.htm and use the following case-sensitive user name and password:  UN:  IntrotoZone / PW:  FreeTrial.  Like what you see?  Then join the Center for Long-Term Care Reform here.  Or contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  ***

The LTC Almanac is divided into 11 sections:

Aging Demographics 
International 
Unfunded Liabilities--Social Security, Medicare, and Budgets 
Long-Term Care 
Caregiving 
Long-Term Care Financing 
Long-Term Care Insurance 
Reverse Mortgages 
Long-Term Care Providers 
Medicaid 
Medicaid Planning   

Each section is divided into sub-sections and under each sub-section we provide a list by date of the most important reports and articles published on the topic, usually with a few highlights and sometimes with analysis.

The Almanac of Long-Term Care is a great way to find statistics you need quickly or to get current on topics you need to know the latest information about.

The Zone and the LTC Almanac are for Center for Long-Term Care Reform members only, except during the current free trial offer.  Join the Center here:  http://www.centerltc.com/support/index.htm.  Call or email Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  He can give you a user name and password to open up The Zone even before your dues payment arrives.  Individual annual memberships are $150.  Premium memberships with access to our “Clipping Service” start at $250.  Premium Elite and “Regional Representative” membership (if you qualify professionally) are $500.  Corporate memberships with many extra benefits start at $1,000.  See our "Membership Levels and Benefits" schedule here.

Caveat:  With time, some hyperlinks go bad.  In a huge document like the "LTC Almanac," we can't keep all the links current all the time.  If you find a bad link, but want to get to the material, contact us.  We often have an electronic copy of the document and we can usually find a current live link.  We'll also fix the link in the LTC Almanac so it will be current again for others.

Suggestion:  Read through the following update to stay current on new resource materials.  Then browse the full LTC Almanac at your leisure.  When you need a quick fact or the latest research on a particular topic, you'll know right where to go.  Enjoy.

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Chapter 1:  Aging Demographics

International

Longevity+paper+-+ADA+-3-21-16 URL  “A Silver LiningThe Investment Implications of an Aging World,” PGIM, Inc., March 2016

3/24/2016, “Aging population offers golden opportunities,” by Marlene Y. Satter, LifeHealthPRO

Quote:  “In its report “A Silver Lining: The Investment Implications of an Aging World,” PGIM presents the case that global aging will reshape consumer spending for decades to come. According to the report, these changes will not only impact developed markets but also have a far-reaching effect on emerging markets — where two-thirds of the world’s elderly live.  …  Within the three sectors to be most affected, specific opportunities exist in multifamily condos, senior housing, urban life sciences clusters, pharmaceuticals and biotech and technology-enabled medical services and devices.

LTC Comment:  Not to mention to mention LTCI and other financial products to save or invest for long-term housing and care costs.

Retirement Planning

NCOA-Older-Adult-Issue-Debt-Brief 0216 URL:  https://www.ncoa.org/wp-content/uploads/NCOA-Older-Adult-Issue-Debt-Brief.pdf

“Older Adults and Debt: Trends, Trade-offs, and Tools to Help,” National Council on the Aging, February 2016

2/17/2016, “Older Adults & Debt: Trends, Trade-offs, and Tools to Help,” National Council on the Aging (NCOA)

Quote:  “Numerous public and private benefits programs can help low-income older adults pay for health care, housing, food, transportation, and other expenses, thereby freeing up income that can be used to pay down debt.  …  These programs remain undersubscribed by older adults, and yet collectively are estimated to offer savings worth more than $12,000 (in 2014), an amount that would double the income of a person living at the federal poverty level.  …  NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp® is the nation’s most comprehensive free, online service to screen seniors with limited income for benefits. It includes more than 2,000 public and private benefits programs from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.”  (p. 3)

LTC Comment:   The epidemic of senior debt clearly described in this report is a serious problem, but government benefit programs are the problem not the solution.  After 80 years of Social Security followed by 50 years of Medicare and Medicaid, aging Americans depend too much on public benefits and too little on personal responsibility and planning.  When the public programs they depend on become insolvent, the current crisis will become a genuine national tragedy.

Chapter 2:  International

General

LTC Financing in Europe URL:  https://www.soa.org/Files/Pubs/pub-2016-05-ltc-coverage-europe.pdf

“Long-Term Care Coverage in Europe,” by Edith Bocquaire

6/15/2016, “Some European countries seek private long-term care help,” by Allison Bell, LifeHealthPRO

Quote:  “Some European countries are hoping use of private annuities and insurance policies can help their residents hold down long-term care costs.  Edith Bocquaire, a French insurance industry analyst, has described how some European countries build private-sector arrangements into long-term care planning efforts in a paper posted on the website of the Schaumburg, Illinois-based Society of Actuaries.”

LTC Comment:  Check this paper out if you’re interested in how European countries handle long-term care financing.

Chapter 6:  Long-Term Care Financing

General

Leading Age Pathways 0216 URL

“Perspectives on the Challenges of Financing Long-Term Services and Supports,” Leading Age, February 2016

2/17/2016, “Current LTSS financing methods 'irrational, unfair' LeadingAge report claims,” by Emily Mongan, McKnight's LTC News

Quote:  “’Perspectives on the Challenges of Financing Long-Term Services and Supports’ builds on research from LeadingAge, AARP and the SCAN Foundation first released in late 2015.  …  Click here to read the full LeadingAge Pathways report.

LTC Comment:  More of the same old, same old that we’ve refuted repeatedly.  Don’t bother.  The last thing we need is a “mandatory, universal insurance option” which is what Leading Age advocates.

Chapter 10:  Medicaid

Medicaid is the 800-pound gorilla of LTC

June-2016-Report-to-Congress-on-Medicaid-and-CHIP URL:  https://www.macpac.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/June-2016-Report-to-Congress-on-Medicaid-and-CHIP.pdf

“Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP,” Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC), June 2016

6/15/2016, “MACPAC: Medicaid spending for long-term care 'disproportionate',” by Emily Mongan, McKnight's LTC News

Quote:  “Medicaid is the largest payer of high-cost services like long-term care, MACPAC noted in its June 2016 Report to Congress. The program finances one-third of the country's nursing facilities; and spent $169 billion on long-term supports and services in fiscal year 2012.  That amount added up to roughly 43% of Medicaid's total expenditures for FY 2012, despite just 6.2% of Medicaid beneficiaries needing LTSS, the report found.  …  MACPAC's Report to Congress also covers financing reforms and trends in Medicaid spending. Click here to read the full report.

LTC Comment:  Critically important data:  long-term care touches only 6.2% of Medicaid recipients, but accounts for 43% of costs.  Yet far more political and policy attention is directed toward the other 93.8% of recipients who account for the only 57% of costs.  Whatever happened to the admonition “Follow the money?”

Medicaid Eligibility

KFF on Medicaid Financial Eligibility 0316 URL:  http://files.kff.org/attachment/report-medicaid-financial-eligibility-for-seniors-and-people-with-disabilities-in-2015

“Medicaid Financial Eligibility for Seniors and People with Disabilities in 2015,” Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, March 2016,

Highlights:  http://kff.org/medicaid/report/medicaid-financial-eligibility-for-seniors-and-people-with-disabilities-in-2015/

Medicaid Deficiencies

NCOA on Stigma 0616 URL:  https://www.ncoa.org/wp-content/uploads/An-End-to-Stigma-Issue-Brief-NCOA.pdf

“An End to Stigma: Challenging the Stigmatization of Public Assistance Among Older Adults and People with Disabilities,” National Council on the Aging, June 2016

6//2016, “Report: How to get more benefits to seniors,” by Lois A. Bowers, McKnight's Senior Living

Quote:  “So what's keeping older adults from applying?  Stigma, for one. Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits carry much more stigma that Medicare and Social Security benefits, according to the survey …  ‘Concerns about estate recovery and states placing liens on homes affect applicants' willingness to apply as well,’ the report authors state, noting that such concerns can be legitimate for families applying for Medicaid coverage for long-term services and supports.

LTC Comment:  More stigma for Medicaid than Medicare?  Well, yeah, Medicaid is welfare (for which others pay taxes) and Medicare is social insurance (for which everyone pays “premiums,” actually payroll taxes.  The irony is that Medicaid has become a de facto entitlement for LTC because of easy and elastic eligibility rules, whereas Medicare is moving toward welfare status due to means-testing, i.e. charging higher income people more.  Do some people object to paying back the cost of their care from their estates (estate recovery)?  Well, yes, and other people (taxpayers) object to paying for their own care and the care of people who transfer the cost of their care to Medicaid.  This new report is a good example of the moral decay we described in “Losing Principles.”

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Updated, Tuesday, July 5, 2016, 9:59 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-026:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Warning: Healthcare Costs in Retirement May Be Higher Than We Thought
  • How to get your kids to provide long-term care for you when you need it most
  • Catastrophic Insurance Could Help With Long-Term Care Expenses: Studies
  • Gawande: Good palliative care blocked by quality measures, lack of communication
  • Home healthcare industry braces for another Medicare cut
  • Diversity in age, ethnicity of post-acute residents increasing, research finds
  • The financial and emotional toll of America’s Alzheimer’s problem
  • How retirement planning for childless couples is different
  • Survey shows how much long-term care costs continue to climb
  • Aging parents: Your adult kids aren't total ingrates like you think they are
  • Michael D. Fraizer and Thomas J. McInerney

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, July 1, 2016, 11:07 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC Bullet:  LTC Action Plan

LTC Comment:  The best way to confront and change the growing LTC reform consensus into something better, after the ***news.***

*** CLTCR Premium Membership  --  Center for Long-Term Care Reform premium members receive our full suite of individual membership benefits including: 

  • All LTC Bullets and E-Alerts

  • Access to our Members-Only Zone website and Almanac of Long-Term Care

  • Subscription to our Clipping Service

  • Email/phone access to Steve Moses for 24-hour turnaround queries

Our Premium Membership is designed to give you a competitive advantage in your long-term care profession. Your increased knowledge of the critical issues and challenges we face in the field of long-term care service delivery and financing equals improved professional success for you and better LTC services for your clients and for those who have no choice but to rely on scarce public resources. 

Stay on the forefront of professional knowledge and help us fight for rational long-term care policy reform by contacting Damon at 206-283-7036 / damon@centerltc.com to start your Premium Membership immediately or go directly to our secure online subscription page and sign up for as little as $21 per month. ***

 

LTC BULLET:  LTC ACTION PLAN

LTC Comment:  Center members and LTC Bullets readers know we’re working on a six-month study of Medicaid and long-term care financing whose goal is “Ensuring Scarce Resources Reach the Neediest People.”  We explained in “LTC Bullet:  Losing Principles” how and why this study took a change in direction.  We expanded in “LTC Bullet:  Long-Term Care at a Crossroads” on why that change was necessary.  We describe today how we plan to proceed.

What follows is a rough, initial outline of the report we will complete in draft by August 15, 2016.  Many blanks remain to be filled in and much work remains to be done, but this first cut helps us organize our thoughts.  We welcome any feedback and suggestions readers may like to offer.

Draft Report Outline:

A policy consensus is forming based on reports from Leading Age, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the LTC Collaborative that America needs a compulsory back-end government long-term care financing program.

This consensus is based on the presumption that Medicaid requires impoverishment and that the welfare program’s LTC financing approach has failed.  Neither of these suppositions is correct.

The truth is that Medicaid does not require impoverishment and the Medicaid LTC financing program presumed to have failed has in fact never been tried.  This report will address each of those points.

I.  Does Medicaid require impoverishment?

The belief that qualification for Medicaid LTC benefits requires impoverishment is based on (1) a superficial reading of seemingly draconian income and resource eligibility rules, (2) evasion of evidence from key sources, and (3) research by economists and health policy experts grounded in HRS/AHEAD data.

The first two points are easy to substantiate.  Relatively high income and resources do not preclude Medicaid LTC eligibility as we’ve explained in detail often and will again in this report, with references to statutory and regulatory sources.

Advocates for an expanded government LTC financing program have ignored a vast, long-standing and current legal literature on Medicaid planning, i.e. artificial self-impoverishment to qualify for Medicaid, which we will cite and summarize.

Also ignored since the late 1980s and early 1990s are the opinions of Medicaid officials including eligibility workers, elder law attorneys, and the public regarding the ease with which people of substantial means qualify for LTC benefits. 

Less easy to rebut are the findings from more than two decades of longitudinal survey research based on the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) & Asset and Health Dynamics among the Oldest Old (AHEAD).  Journal articles citing these “big data” sources  downplay the use of “asset transfers” to qualify for Medicaid, show that most survey respondents decumulate wealth very quickly before they become eligible for Medicaid, and document how poor most Medicaid LTC recipients actually are.

We will analyze the most influential of these articles and refute their conclusions when mistaken.  For example:  their focus on asset transfers ignores the larger problem of easy and elastic eligibility rules and disregards other methods of Medicaid planning that do not involve divestiture.  They focus on survey respondents at the median of wealth, whereas we’ll show how people from the median to 95th percentile of wealth qualify easily for benefits.  We will explain why evidence of widespread, catastrophic asset spend-down for private long-term care is lacking.  Finally, we will point out deficiencies in the survey data itself based on non-reporting, mis-reporting, and misinterpretation. 

II.  Medicaid, as described by advocates of a big, mandatory public LTC financing program, has never been tried.

From its inception in 1965 until 1980, Title XIX of the Social Security Act (Medicaid) expressly permitted all people over age 65 with a need for long-term care to give away everything they owned in order to qualify for LTC benefits.  From 1980 on, through a long series of federal statutes—including ORA ’80, TEFRA ’82, COBRA ’85, MCCA ’88, OBRA ’93, HIPPA ’96, BBA ’97, and DRA ’05—18 Congresses and five presidents struggled to prevent, or at least discourage, access to Medicaid by the middle class and affluent.  Yet this problem still exists and it is getting worse as the stigma of accepting welfare recedes and the fiscal and monetary restraint of government declines.

Our report will trace these historical developments, describe the status quo, and explain the past consequences and future peril of relying excessively on public financing of long-term care.

Conclusion

Bottom line, the severely restrictive Medicaid LTC financing program, which allegedly forces millions of Americans into impoverishment due to catastrophic long-term care expenditures, does not now and never has existed. 

Historically and today, Medicaid crowds out much more than private LTC insurance.  It diminishes awareness of LTC risk and cost; it degrades personal responsibility; and it discourages early LTC planning and preparation resulting in excessive and ultimately insupportable dependency on the overburdened public welfare program.

A mandatory government program as proposed in the three early-2016 papers referenced above would exacerbate, not relieve, all these problems making the moral hazard of government interference even worse.

Far better to restore the original intent of the Medicaid LTC program, which was to provide long-term care for aged individuals “whose income and resources are insufficient to meet the costs of necessary medical services.”  The report will propose modifications to Medicaid LTC eligibility rules that would achieve that objective.

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Updated, Monday, June 27, 2016, 10:08 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-025:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications:  a title, representative quote, a link to the original, and our analysis in a sentence or two.  To inquire or subscribe, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  Read testimonials by satisfied subscribers here.  To subscribe online, please click here.

LTC E-Alerts:  Once a week, we compile our daily LTC Clippings into a summary, email it to Center for Long-Term Care Reform members, and archive it in The Zone, our password-protected members-only website.  Center members also receive our weekly LTC Bullet op-ed.  To join the Center and receive all these benefits and more, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.  

We no longer post our LTC E-Alerts on the Center’s public access website, but here’s what today’s LTC E-Alert contained:  links, quotes and comments on the following articles, reports, or data:

  • Selling LTCi: Pricing, Perception and Persistency

  • Person-centered care programs projected to cut skilled nursing stays by 20%

  • Boomers, it’s time to spend—and pay taxes on—your 401(k)

  • Changes loom as most-popular Medigap plans face extinction

  • A tiny Alzheimer's study with huge results

  • 'Spousal refusal' helps save on nursing home costs

  • Trustees: Tiny rise in Social Security benefits next year

  • As Suburbs Shift, Funding Fights Loom

  • Report: How to get more benefits to seniors

  • Consider Combining a CRT With Long-Term Care Insurance

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"LTC E-Alerts" are a feature offered by the Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. to members at the $150 per year level or higher.  We'll track and report to you news and analysis regarding long-term care financing, service delivery, and research.  We hope The LTC E-Alerts will help you attain and maintain a high level of knowledge and competency in this complex field.  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. is a private institute dedicated to ensuring quality LTC for all Americans (www.centerltc.com).

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Updated, Friday, June 24, 2016, 10:02 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC BULLET:  THE EARLY HISTORY OF LTC FINANCING (AND WHY IT MATTERS)

LTC Comment:  Did you know the original Medicaid law expressly permitted asset transfers to qualify for long-term care benefits?  Learn the early history, what changed, and how it has affected LTC financing after the ***news.***

*** LTC CLIPPINGS this week included the following two, which fit right in with today’s LTC Bullet topic.  The first, from a New York Medicaid planner, indicates one especially egregious artificial impoverishment technique lives on:

6/22/2016, “'Spousal refusal' helps save on nursing home costs,” by Bonnie Kraham, Times Herald-Record

Quote:  “Last week's column described the ‘gift and loan’ strategy, which is crisis planning that saves about half of the assets for single persons who are applying for Medicaid for nursing home costs. This technique is used on the eve of needing a nursing home when the client has not planned ahead to protect their assets.  In New York we also have a law called ‘spousal refusal,’ sometimes referred to as ‘just say no,’ to save assets from nursing home costs when one spouse needs a nursing home (the ‘institutionalized spouse’), the other spouse is at home (the ‘community spouse’), and they never planned ahead to save their assets.”

LTC Comment:  For the other side of the story on “Spousal Refusal,” see our take here:  They're Baaack, Part IV: "Abandon Your Spouse . . . Get Medicaid".

The other featured LTC Clipping laments America’s failure to expand “free” long-term care to even more seniors.

6/21/2016, “Report: How to get more benefits to seniors,” by Lois A. Bowers, McKnight's Senior Living

Quote:  “So what's keeping older adults from applying?  Stigma, for one. Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits carry much more stigma that Medicare and Social Security benefits, according to the survey …  ‘Concerns about estate recovery and states placing liens on homes affect applicants' willingness to apply as well,’ the report authors state, noting that such concerns can be legitimate for families applying for Medicaid coverage for long-term services and supports.

LTC Comment:  More stigma for Medicaid than Medicare?  Well, yeah, Medicaid is welfare (for which others pay taxes) and Medicare is social insurance (for which everyone pays “premiums,” actually payroll taxes.  The irony is that Medicaid has become a de facto entitlement for LTC because of easy and elastic eligibility rules, whereas Medicare is moving toward welfare status due to means-testing, i.e. charging higher income people more.  Do some people object to paying back the cost of their care from their estates (estate recovery)?  Well, yes, and other people (taxpayers) object to paying for their own care and the care of people who transfer the cost of their care to Medicaid.  This new report is a good example of the moral decay we described in “Losing Principles.”

To subscribe to our daily LTC Clippings, contact Damon at 206-283-7036 or damon@centerltc.com.

 

LTC BULLET:  THE EARLY HISTORY OF LTC FINANCING (AND WHY IT MATTERS)

LTC Comment:  The federal and state governments started funding long-term care in a limited way before Medicaid came along in 1965.  But the cost explosion didn’t occur until Medicaid made subsidized nursing home care easy to get.

The new Title XIX of the Social Security Act (Medicaid) provided federal funds to help states finance medical assistance, including nursing home care, for aged individuals “whose income and resources are insufficient to meet the costs of necessary medical services.” 

What’s really fascinating and little known is that the original Medicaid law expressly permitted elderly individuals in need of nursing home care to divest their assets with impunity in order to meet the new program’s relatively low resource eligibility limits.  Here’s the proof:

42 U.S.C. § 1382b(b) (1983) provides:  The Secretary shall prescribe the period or periods of time within which, and the manner in which, various kinds of property must be disposed of in order not to be included in determining an individual's eligibility for benefits.  Any portion of the individual's benefits paid for any such period shall be conditioned upon such disposal; and any benefits so paid shall (at the time of the disposal) be considered overpayments to the extent they would not have been paid had the disposal occurred at the beginning of the period for which such benefits were paid.[1]       

Does that citation not quite say to you:  “Go ahead, give away everything you own, and we’ll pay for your long term care”?  Right, me neither.  But the same source goes on immediately to explain:

A number of [court] decisions confirmed that states were not permitted to deny Medicaid eligibility to an applicant who had divested himself of resources for less than fair market value.  The conflict between the federal rule and state rules, which were promulgated to prevent applicants from divesting themselves of all resources in order to qualify for assistance, gave rise to litigation which prompted Congress to make a legislative attempt to resolve this problem.[2]

If you still have any doubt, check out some of these cases as listed in the source’s footnote 31:

See e.g., Blum v. Caldwell, 446 U.S. 1311 (1980); Fabula v. Buck, 598 F.2d 869 (2d Cir. 1979); Dokos v. Miller, 517 F. Supp. 1039 (N.D. Ill. 1981); Robinson v. Pratt, 497 F. Supp. 830 (D. Mass. 1980); Udina v. Walsh, 440 F. Supp. 1151 (D. Mo. 1977); Buckner v. Maher, 424 F. Supp. 366 (D. Conn. 1976).

I spot checked these citations and, sure enough, they involve courts striking down efforts by states to prohibit or penalize transfers of assets for less than fair market value for the purpose of qualifying for Medicaid.  For example, according to the decision in Buckner v. Maher, 424 F. Supp. 366 (D. Conn. 1976):

Connecticut's "transfer-of-assets" rule violates the Supremacy Clause by presuming that assets are available to welfare recipients, which are in fact not available. The statutory rule and the information requirements relating to establishing whether or not "reasonable consideration" was received for a particular transfer of property are contrary to federal law standards and found by this court to be unlawful and unenforceable.[3]

Here’s how another source describes the situation with asset transfers between 1965 and 1980:

Shortly after the creation of Medicaid and its adoption by the states, potential Medicaid recipients started exploiting "Medicaid planning" techniques. They structured assets to preserve Medicaid eligibility while retaining personal income and property above baseline levels. Congress responded to the creative lawyering surrounding Medicaid planning by passing the Omnibus Budget [sic] Reconciliation Act of 1980 (OBRA 1980). This act made asset transfers more cumbersome and increased the use of trusts to shelter funds.[4]

So, bottom line, between the passage of Medicaid in 1965 and enactment of the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1980 (including the Boren-Long Amendment empowered states to constrain asset transfers), there were no enforceable federal or state laws or regulations prohibiting asset transfers to qualify for Medicaid long-term care benefits.

Of course, that was only the beginning of federal efforts to control the transfer of assets problem, later broadened to include many additional techniques of “Medicaid estate planning.”  But that’s a story for another day, or if you can’t wait, read it here now, but you’ll need your user name and password to The Zone.  Lacking that, contact Damon@centerltc.com or 206-283-7036.

For now  . . .  So what if Medicaid allowed free asset transfers for its first decade and a half?  The cost of Medicaid exploded from the get-go beyond all expectations as this 1969 source explains:

The amounts expended to finance Medicaid in the first two years were surprisingly high. Estimates in 1965 of the annual federal cost of Medicaid ranged from $150 million to $238 million. Yet actual federal expenditures were $621 million in the calendar year 1966. In 1967 Congress estimated that the annual federal share would rise to $1.4 billion in fiscal 1968 and to $3.1 billion by 1972, provided no additional restrictions were placed on the 1965 program.[5]

It didn’t stop there of course and neither did the many ways people and their advisors qualify for Medicaid LTC benefits while preserving their wealth.  Medicaid expenditures as of Fiscal Year 2014 were $496 billion.  Of course, the program’s asset transfer and Medicaid planning giveaways only accounted for a portion of this cost explosion.  But direct cost of Medicaid to taxpayers is by no means the only or necessarily even the biggest problem.

Easy access to Medicaid LTC benefits after the insurable event occurred desensitized the public to long-term care risks and costs resulting in a vast decline of private revenue to LTC providers, excessive reliance on inadequate public funding, serious access and quality problems, institutional bias that stultified the private home care market, and a crowding out of major potential new LTC revenue sources such as home equity conversion and long-term care insurance. 

Consequently we find ourselves today with a public excessively dependent on a financially vulnerable and degrading welfare program for a critical human need, extended care at the end of life.  Perhaps as worrisome, our policy wonks and legislators are leaning toward new programs of even greater moral hazard by expanding government financing of long-term care. 

The lesson of the early history of Medicaid LTC financing is that when supply is free demand is infinite and consequences dire.


 

[1] Timothy N. Carlucci, “The Asset Transfer Dilemma:  Disposal of Resources and Qualification for Medicaid Assistance,” 36 Drake L. Rev. 369 1986-1987, p. 372:  [link].

[2] Ibid., footnotes omitted.

[3] Buckner v. Maher, 424 F. Supp. 366 (D. Conn. 1976): https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/1444817/buckner-v-maher/. b

[4] Michael A. Bottar, “Robbing Peter to Pay Paul:  Medicaid Liens, Supplemental Needs Trusts and Personal Injury Recoveries on Behalf of Infants in New York State Following The Gold Decision [link],” 53 Syracuse L. Rev. 175 2003, pps. 181-2, footnotes omitted.

[5] ________, “Medicaid: The Patchwork Crazy Quilt,” Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems, 5 Colum. J.L. & Soc. Probs. 62 1969, p. 65, footnotes omitted:  [link].

 

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Updated, Monday, June 20, 2016, 11:00 AM (Pacific)
 
Seattle—

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LTC E-ALERT #16-024:  LTC NEWS AND COMMENT

LTC Comment:  Do you spend hours searching the internet for useful articles, key data, and relevant reports to keep you on the forefront of professional knowledge?  Do you lose business because you’re blindsided by clients or competitors who learn critical information before you do?  Here’s an antidote:

LTC Clippings:  The Center for Long-Term Care Reform notifies subscribers to our LTC Clippings service daily of information you need to know.  Each message contains only the critical facts about new publications: