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LTC Bullet:

Provider Nails It

Wednesday January 5, 2000


Provider magazine is a well-known LTC trade journal published by the American Health Care Association. In its January 2000 issue, Editor-In-Chief Lynn Wagner hits the LTC-financing nail on the head. Her article--entitled "Meeting the Baby Boomer Challenge: How Will a Generation of 70 Million Elders Reshape and Redirect Long Term Care?"--gives a broad overview of the issue, but also hammers in the critical importance of private financing. Here's a sample:

"Long term care financing reform must be considered along with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and tax policy changes, [former-Senator David] Durenberger says. All of these programs are tied to income security, and the role of social insurance must be defined so that the private long term care insurance market can take shape…. [P]rivate insurance will ultimately be the answer to the long term care financing dilemma. But it's impossible for this industry to mature until public programs stabilize and establish what their role will be over time in providing a safety net, [Durenberger] says. Once that is determined, private insurance plans can get a handle on risk and set rates accordingly.

"Baby boomers have not yet had to confront disastrous financial consequences when parents or grandparents need long term care, because 'for 35 years the government has been anesthetizing the public to the risk of long term care,' says Stephen Moses, president of the Center for Long-Term Care Financing, Seattle.

"Moses says the federal government needs to launch a major education campaign to inform this generation of its long term care risks and financing options. People should be encouraged to purchase private insurance by the time they are 55 or 60, when it's still affordable, Moses says. He advocates requiring individuals to purchase such plans or offer their property as collateral against future long term care expenses financed by Medicare or Medicaid. This would shield people from the indignity of Medicaid reliance, provide incentive for individuals to purchase long term care insurance, and ensure that public programs would survive to serve the genuinely needy. Any debts would be collected post mortem from an individual's estate."

Our compliments to Senator Durenberger for his thoughtful analysis of the problem and to Editor Wagner for giving the Center for Long-Term Care Financing's "LTC Choice" proposal some well-read ink in Provider magazine.