LTC Bullet: Don't Forget Why We're Doing This

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Houston, TX--

LTC Comment: Unless you're giving away Medicaid to well-heeled clients for big fees, long-term care is a tough business in which to make a living. Ask any long-term care provider, insurer or financier. It takes passion and persistence to succeed. That's why it's good to remember now and again why we stay in the fight. More after the ***news.***

*** THE 17TH PRIVATE LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE CONFERENCE, titled this year "Financing Long Term Care: Policy, Politics, and Practice," is scheduled for June 23-25, 2004 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. For more information, go to http://www.ltcedfoundation.org/ or call Diane Fulton at 703-968-8863. Stay tuned to this space for more details as the conference date approaches. In the meantime, visit our Virtual Visit to last year's 16th iteration of this meeting (in San Antonio) at http://www.centerltc.org/members/Virtual_Visits/texas.htm . If you lack the user name and password to view our Virtual Visits, just keep reading for instructions how to Zone In. ***

*** NEW DONOR-ZONE FEATURE JUST ADDED. Our Virtual Visit to the "National LTCi Producers Summit" is now available online. You'll find details about the conference, session summaries, pictures of and interviews with attendees, and much more. Our "Virtual Visits" to major industry conferences are designed to help people compare the meetings and decide which of them best suit their interests and pocketbook. If you're already zoned in, just go to http://www.centerltc.com/members/Virtual_Visits/new_orleans.htm , enter your user name and password, and you'll find the new Virtual Visit. If you aren't in The Zone yet, read on through the section below for how to join. ***

*** LATEST DONOR-ONLY ZONE CONTENT: Here's the latest Zone content followed by instructions on how to subscribe so you can receive these critical epistles daily by email.

LTC E-Alert #4-007--LTCI Tax Deductibility Lite (Persistent agent discovered state LTCi tax deductibility where everyone said it didn't exist.)

The LTC Reader #4-006--VA Dumps Nursing Home Vets into Medicaid Facilities (More reasons not to count on the Department of Veterans Affairs for long-term care.)

The LTC Data Update #4-006--Medicaid Underpaid Nursing Homes $4.1 Billion in Latest Year (Latest BDO Seidman study shows severe funding shortfalls.)

LTC E-Alert #4-008--SOA LTCI Embed--Report from the Front--Part I and
LTC E-Alert #4-009--SOA LTCI Embed--Report from the Front--Part II
(Steve Moses's onsite reports from the Society of Actuaries LTC Insurance Conference in Houston, TX)

Don't miss our "virtual visits" to major LTC industry conferences in The Zone. You'll find our comparison of the conferences, session summaries, interviews and pictures at http://www.centerltc.com/members/index.htm .

Individual donors of $150 or more and corporate donors to the Center for Long-Term Care Financing receive our daily email LTC Bullets, LTC E-Alerts, LTC Readers, and LTC Data Updates for a full year. You'll also get access to the donor-only zone where these publications are archived along with other donor-only features. If you already qualify for The Zone, you can click the following link, enter your user name and password, and go directly to the latest donor zone content and archives: http://www.centerltc.com/members/index.htm . If you do not already qualify for The Zone, mail your tax-deductible contribution of $150 or more to the Center for Long-Term Care Financing, 2212 Queen Anne Avenue North, #110, Seattle, WA 98109. Then email mailto:damon@centerltc.org your preferred user name and password (up to 10 characters each). You can also contribute online by credit card or direct withdrawal at http://www.centerltc.com/support/index.htm . ***

LTC BULLET: DON'T FORGET WHY WE'RE DOING THIS

LTC Comment: Following are excerpts from a Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial about a recent PBS Special titled "The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer's" followed by a letter to the editor from a Center for Long-Term Care Financing supporter who adds a key observation. You can find more information about the PBS Special at http://www.pbs.org/theforgetting/about/index.html , including a link to a video clip and instructions on how to purchase a DVD or VHS video of the show.

"Editorial: 'The Forgetting'/Step up pursuit of a cure," Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 22, 2004, http://www.startribune.com/stories/561/4332223.html

Bravo to Twin Cities Public Television and other public television stations around the country for debuting "The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer's" Wednesday night [January 21, 2004]. It's a must-see for all Americans -- because unless the memory-consuming disease named for Dr. Alois Alzheimer is brought under control, it will touch the lives of all Americans, directly or indirectly, in the next several decades. . . .

Alzheimer's disease is increasing in incidence in the United States at an epidemic rate. Fifteen years ago, there were 500,000 cases in the nation. There are an estimated 5 million Americans with the disease today. By 2050, that number is on course to triple.

. . .

Alzheimer's is a monumental personal tragedy for those who suffer from it and those who care for them. "The Forgetting" presents a sample of their stories, laced with enough science and research to keep the presentation from becoming maudlin. . . .

If there is a deficiency in the PBS broadcast, it is in the scanty information it provides about the investment the nation is making to defeat Alzheimer's. The federal government currently spends $640 million per year on Alzheimer's research, much less than it spends fighting AIDS, heart disease and cancer. Though federal outlays for Alzheimer's have been increasing, the rate of increase has slowed in recent years, as federal priorities have shifted elsewhere. A modest 2 to 3 percent increase appears likely this year.

The Alzheimer's Association, the largest source of private research grants, will kick in an additional $20 million this year. The pharmaceutical industry is likely spending more, though it does not disclose how much.

Those amounts are too small for a disease so menacing. The Alzheimer's Association is urging Congress to increase its appropriation to $1 billion a year, an amount they believe is sufficient to fuel the pursuit of several promising research lines. For all the reasons presented in "The Forgetting," America ought to be making that pursuit at full throttle.

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Letter to the Editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 23, 2004
by
Richard A. Schafer

Bravo to the Star Tribune for recommending the PBS program "The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer's" as a must-see for all Americans. I would add . . . bravo to all involved: the program sponsors, MetLife; the Alzheimer's Association for all their good  work; and to the scientists who are searching for a cure to this menacing disease.

As your editorial noted, the broadcast provided scanty information about the investment the nation is making to defeat Alzheimer's. If there is a second deficiency in the broadcast, it is the scanty information it provides about the dearth of planning that Americans are making to protect themselves and their families against the ruinous financial effects of Alzheimer's or other health maladies. The program's featured family, in imminent danger (50-50 chance) of contracting Alzheimer's Disease, offered no planning suggestions for their own care. Missing in the broadcast was the explanation of what or who pays for 8-20 years of care.

No mention was made of what action families could take or should take to protect their families from the surprise of Alzheimer's or the consequences attendant from other diseases of senescence. The absence of such candid discussions serves unwittingly to strengthen the notion that we all can ignore the risks of debilitating illness . . . if we need care, someone will take care of us, and someone else will pay for the care.

This seemingly benign oversight de-sensitizes the American public to the need to assume personal responsibility for expensive long-term care.  There was no mention of the serious cutbacks to Medical Assistance programs which dangerously affect women, children, disabled, and elderly. Most noticeably missing was the suggestion of how Americans, with means, can and should plan ahead, save, invest, insure for their own possible need for long-term care.

"The Forgetting" was a valuable program in so many ways. It sensitized us to the emotional horrors of the disease.  However, for two hours I waited for any suggestion of how responsible individuals can contribute to the solution. I waited for the explanation of how the Medicaid program must ensure that every federal and state statutory, regulatory and administrative remedy should be fully employed to target public assistance resources to the most needy while diverting more prosperous people to private financing options.

The quality of care and research will benefit from our responsible actions. While we wait for cures to be discovered, we need to come to terms with the inevitable surprises that will afflict many of us as we age. We must prepare for any health eventuality and just as we ask of our government and scientists, we must do so at full throttle.

Richard A. Schafer, CLTC, CSA is a Long-term Care Professional in Minneapolis, MN. He compiles a free bi-weekly newsletter on LTC. He can be reached at the Schafer Long-term Care LLC at 612-623-3219 or by e-mail at mailto:SchaferLTC@mn.rr.com.