LTC Bullet: LTC is Hot!
Monday January 11, 1999
We all know public awareness is a critical part of solving
the long-term care financing crisis. Thanks to the President's
recent focus on the issue, long-term care is in the news big time
these days! That is great news even if the Clinton plan itself
is deficient. Here is some of the coverage we think may interest
The "New York Times" editorialized today (1/11/99)
about the President's new LTC plan: "President Clinton's
proposal on long-term care will give only modest help to most
with debilitating illnesses and family members who are caring
for them and no help at all to the very poor. But it might do
some good if it puts the long-term care problem on the nation's
political agenda and becomes a starting point for increased Federal
involvement. The issue cannot be put off for long as millions
of baby boomers begin facing potentially huge long-term care costs
for themselves or their parents." So far so good, but then
the Times continues to perpetuate the myth of Medicaid spend-down:
"Medicaid...is available only to people with extremely low
incomes. Others have to deplete nearly all of their assets before
qualifying for Medicaid." This is ridiculous. New York
City residents who need nursing home care can qualify for Medicaid
benefits despite having incomes of over $7,000 per month, more
if they are married. Most assets are exempt already or they are
easy to divest or convert to exempt status. Evidently, the Times
editorialist forgot what the newspaper said back on April 14,
1996 when it editorialized correctly against "the blatant
and often unethical misuse of the [Medicaid] program by well-to-do
patients in nursing homes. These patients exploit legal loopholes
to transfer their wealth to their children, thus technically impoverishing
themselves and providing themselves with inexpensive nursing home
care. What was supposed to be a program for the poor has turned
into a boondoggle for everyone else.... The system is a scandal."
The "Investor's Business Daily" ran a front page
story by Laura Litvan today entitled "Long-Term-Care Troubles
Loom: Some Fear Taxpayers Will Pick Up Boomers' Tabs."
This piece comments on the danger of deflating the market for
long-term care insurance by providing too much public financing.
It cites Center President Stephen Moses to the effect that:
"We just keep applying more anesthesia, when what we really
need is a root canal."
The current "National Journal" contains an article
entitled "Another Looming Crisis" by Marilyn Werber
Serafini. Here the focus is on the hidden crisis of long-term
care which is usually overshadowed by the Social Security and
Medicare problems. The Center for Long-Term Care Financing was
cited at length in this article: "'It sounds very seductive
to take Medicaid and
Medicare money, pool it together and manage it and carefully identify
people's levels of need. Keep them at home, then move them to
assisted living, and use the nursing homes as a last resort,'
Moses said. 'But this is suicidal to the Medicaid program. For
every person in a nursing home,' he said, 'there are two or three
with comparable or even more-severe disabilities getting by at
home. Half,' he said, 'are incontinent, bedridden, or both.
If you make publicly financed home care available
offer free care at a level that people want--assisted living and
home care--people come out of the woodwork. As a result,' he
said, 'Medicaid could be overwhelmed. 'It sends the message to
the public: "Don't worry about long-term care. If you ever
need it, we'll be there for you," and that's why we're staring
into the abyss as boomers move through Social Security and Medicare
to the thermonuclear time bomb of long-term care.'"
Carl Hulse of the "New York Times" Washington Bureau
put a column on the wires January 6 entitled "Plan Could
Trigger National Dialogue on Long-Term Care." He says it
will be "available to dozens of newspapers" and "will
run in many places." Hulse cites the Center's criticism
of the new Clinton LTC plan: "It treats the symptoms and
not the underlying problems."
Watch for additional coverage based on input from the Center
for Long-Term Care Financing forthcoming from ABC News, the New
York Times, Consumer's Research magazine, and
McKnight's Long-Term Care News. Things are poppin'!