Rep. Northup's Call to Action
June 17, 1999
The following is an excerpt from Rep. Anne Northup's (R-KY) editorial in the "As I See It" column of Health Insurance Underwriter Magazine (June, 1999). The Center for Long-Term Care Financing has provided Rep. Northup's office with information and assistance. The Center congratulates Rep. Northup for her commitment to reforming LTC Financing sooner rather than later.
LTC: "Doing Nothing" No Longer An Option
"...Our population is aging rapidly. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans 85 and older are our nation's fastest growing age group. The statistics show that from 1960 to 1990, this age group increased by more than 200 percent, and projections show that by 2050, the 85-plus population will increase six-fold from its current size. The reality attached to these numbers should cause all federal legislators to awaken to the upcoming challenges associated with long-term care.
"Over the years, Medicare and Medicaid funds have been used to aid individuals in accessing long-term care. These funds have created unreal expectations regarding the federal role and capacity for filling this void, and left huge gaps in meeting long-term care needs and costs. The federal government alone cannot solve the problems associated with long-term care. Medicare is heading toward bankruptcy and the federal government, along with the states, already spends a tremendous amount of money on long-term care. For example, according to the Health Care Financing Administration, the federal government covers 77 percent of all nursing home care expenses received in this country, compared to the 23 percent covered by private pay or other sources.
"It would be simple to legislatively expand the federal government's long-term care commitment, but irresponsible. Medicare and Medicaid are now compensating for long-term care services that were never intended, and not affordable. Congress must act quickly and creatively in order to stabilize these systems.
"Paying for quality long-term care will require a new revenue stream. Private insurance is one way Congress can create funding to solve the needs and financing of long-term care. Private, long-term care policies have been available for over 10 years, but have had much trouble breaking through to the mainstream because of their high cost for coverage. Most Americans do not even consider such insurance until they are close to the age where they anticipate its use. However, there is no disputing that this option promises the consumer the most in terms of both receiving quality care and protection against the rising costs of nursing or in-home care. Tax incentives must be made available to both individuals and employers for the purchase of this type of insurance. Congress must clarify the tax code and make it easier for people to look toward the private sector for long-term care solutions. Private solutions will also alleviate the burden on our Medicare and Medicaid programs, freeing up federal dollars to be spent on the people and the services for which they were created.
"Congress must realize that 'doing nothing' about long-term care is no longer an option. The increasing financial burden of Medicare and Medicaid on the federal government makes legislation essential. We must work together toward creating new tax incentives and educating the public about existing tax credits in order to promote private solutions to very public problems. I am willing to work with you to make this happen, so please do not hesitate to contact my office with your ideas or suggestions. I am located in 1004 Longworth HOB, Washington, DC 20515, (202) 225-5401."
*Source: Rep. Anne Northup, "LTC: 'Doing Nothing' No
Longer An Option," Health Insurance Underwriter, Vol.
47, No. 6, June 1999, p. 56. For information on subscribing to
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