LTC Bullet: The CLTC Class and Certification

Wednesday, April 30, 2003


LTC Comment: When the Corporation for Long-Term Care Certification (CLTCC) first offered its CLTC (Certified in Long-Term Care) professional designation five years ago, we published a scathing critique of the program. We stand by that opinion . . . for THEN. But not for NOW. People and programs can change, sometimes for the better. This is an example. More after the ***news***.

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When the private, for-profit Corporation for Long-Term Care Certification (CLTCC) began offering the first professional training and certification program on LTC insurance for senior advisors, we challenged the program on several grounds. We observed that an objective, nonprofit organization might be a more appropriate sponsor of such a program. We pointed out the close connection between CLTCC and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA is the trade association of Medicaid estate planning attorneys), which originally sponsored the program, provided course reviews, and proctored the certification exams. We criticized the program's emphasis on Medicaid eligibility, its defense of Medicaid planning, and its failure to acknowledge adequately the downside risks associated with welfare-financed long-term care. That was then.

This is now. We have a different and far more favorable opinion of the CLTC class and designation today. The CLTCC has trained thousands of LTC insurance agents and other senior advisors. We have been impressed with the caliber of the professionals holding the CLTC designation. The CLTCs themselves generally speak very highly of the program. We no longer doubt the value of an independent for-profit certification program, especially now that it competes with an industry-sponsored non-profit alternative (the LTCP designation which we reviewed February 4, 2003 in "LTC Bullet: HIAA's New LTCP Books, Course and Designation Evaluated" ). The condescending, ethical aspersions toward LTCI agents that we discerned in earlier CLTC publications are now gone, replaced by strongly positive statements about the dignity and value of the long-term care insurance sales profession, properly conducted.

The CLTC course materials have been vastly improved, thanks in part to careful review by competent LTC insurance experts and in part to the expanding knowledge and professional growth of the program's founder, attorney Harley Gordon. For example, the CLTC course manual now acknowledges many of the shortcomings of Medicaid as a financier of long-term care including Medicaid's failure to cover or pay adequately for the levels of care most seniors prefer, i.e., home care or assisted living. Significantly, the CLTCC severed its ties with NAELA, which no longer plays a role in the training or examination of CLTC graduates. See "LTC Bullet: CLTC Certification Program Ejects NAELA," published May 30, 2000: . Finally, and most extraordinarily, in an unusual display of sincerity and commitment toward responsible long-term care planning, CLTCC President Gordon gave up a lucrative elder law practice, grounded in Medicaid planning, to dedicate himself and his company to improving Americans' ability to pay privately for quality long-term care.

We could still raise many quibbles and some stronger criticism of the CLTC course. For example, it is not nearly as comprehensive or in-depth as the new LTCP program, whose course materials include four book-length volumes. On the other hand, CLTC covers all the bases well, and the entertaining, charismatic Gordon must make the live training program highly memorable. More profound criticisms of the CLTC manual are that it still fails to explain adequately the quality problems associated with Medicaid; it continues to condone Medicaid planning for the uninsurable and it frequently urges LTCI agents to confer with and refer to "elder law attorneys." Demand for LTC insurance will never grow as long as the public can ignore the risk, avoid the premiums, qualify for free or subsidized, publicly financed care, avoid spending their own money for long-term care, and pass on large estates to their heirs at the expense of taxpayers and nursing home owners. As long as elder law attorneys use legal sleight of hand to convert Medicaid from an LTC safety net for the poor into inheritance insurance for the affluent, they have no role in responsible long-term care planning.

You can learn all about the CLTC Class and Certification, including details on coverage and cost (which varies from $895 for the correspondence course to $1195 for the in-person version), on CLTCC's website at . You can also do a search on the website to find a CLTC graduate in your state or locality in case you want to ask the opinion of someone who has been through the class. Continuing Education credits granted for the CLTC class vary from six in Utah to 38 in Colorado, with most states in the 15 to 25 CEU range. One of the strongest features of the CLTC program is its follow-up benefits, which include yearly online course updates, periodic newsy e-alerts, sales tips, a monthly newsletter, and various discounts.

Full disclosure: the Corporation for Long-Term Care Certification is currently a corporate donor to the Center for Long-Term Care Financing.