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LTC Bullet:

Former Secretary for Aging Confirms Center Message

Monday March 8, 1999


Dr. Fernando Torres-Gil, former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Aging, warns of the impending disaster this nation faces without genuine LTC reform in a recent article entitled, "Piecemeal Changes Inadequate for Long-Term Care Reform" (McKnight's Long-Term Care News, February 1999). The coming impact of boomers on already overburdened public programs leads Torres-Gil to implore Congress and the President to find solutions that will encourage people to plan for the risk of LTC and save the social safety net for the truly needy.

Sound familiar? The Center for Long-Term Care Financing's "LTC Choice" plan creates the proper incentives for people to plan ahead when they're young, healthy and affluent enough to purchase insurance or otherwise plan for the risk of a long-term illness. Diverting most people away from public programs, in turn, will preserve a reinvigorated safety net for the genuinely needy.

How? Find out more by purchasing a copy of "LTC Choice: A Simple, Cost-Free Solution to the Long-Term Care Financing Puzzle" ($24.95; free to media). Contact Nadia Morgen at 206-447-1340 or reply to this e-mail with your order.

The following are excerpts from Dr. Torres-Gil's article:

"Just as 77 million retiring baby boomers will alter the solvency of Social Security, so too will they put pressure on Medicare and Medicaid. How can government programs that will be stressed with the aging baby boom generation be examined separately? The answer is they cannot. The stage is set for reform.

"Consider this: Ninety percent of all long-term health care services are paid for by the government - Social Security, Medicare and predominantly Medicaid. What will happen to our health care system when the baby boom generation nearly doubles the elderly population by 2030? The answer is both obvious and startling. The cost of Medicaid for home health and nursing home care will skyrocket to $120 billion in 2007, according to HCFA. The approaching tidal wave of aging baby boomers will push the financially squeezed Medicaid program into bankruptcy. It is clear that the present long-term care financing system under Medicaid will not be able to withstand the demographic demands that will more than double the number of its elderly beneficiaries. Nearly one in two
Americans will require long-term care at some point in their lives."

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"It is no wonder that, with health care costs and the number of patients on the rise, Medicaid was never intended to be a long-term care program for the middle-class elderly, yet more Americans rely on it than any other health care program, including Medicare."

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"Congress must work with the President to find an answer to long-term care financing that offers planning incentives to all Americans while maintaining a social safety net for the truly needy."

Fernando Torres-Gil, Ph.D., is the director of UCLA's Center for Policy Research on Aging, Los Angeles. He is also a delegate to the White House Conference on Social Security. His article first appeared in the Washington Times and was reprinted with permission in McKnight's Long-Term Care News.