LTC Bullet:  WSJ Says Don't Count on Government for LTC 

Wednesday, September 7, 2005 

Washington, DC-- 

LTC Comment:  Today's Wall Street Journal warns that government is likely to cut Medicaid LTC benefits and encourage private LTC insurance.  What a good set-up for today's webcast debate on "Who Should Pay for Long-Term Care."  More after the ***news.*** 

*** LTC DEBATE.  By the time you receive this LTC Bullet, the Cato-sponsored debate between Center for Long-Term Care Reform president Steve Moses and New York elder law attorney Vincent Russo will be over.  But you can watch the debate in the Cato Institute's archives later.  Just go to http://www.cato.org/realaudio/audiopages.html, search for "Medicaid and the Long-Term Care Crisis--Who Should Pay," and click on the link to the program.  You'll need a free downloadable video or audio player to watch and/or listen to this debate. *** 

*** QUOTES.  Following are sample quotes from each of the participants in today's debate: 

"If an individual requires long term care and has significant assets to protect, then a combination of outright transfers directly to family members and assets being placed in an Irrevocable Living Trust may make sense." 

Source:  Past-NAELA-President Vincent Russo in a presentation titled "Irrevocable Trusts for Asset Protection" at the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys' 10th Anniversary Advanced Elder Law Institute in Washington, D.C. from November 20 to 22, 1998.  

"Medicaid cannot survive as a long-term care safety net for the poor as long as it continues to be free inheritance insurance for the baby boom generation.  Medicaid planning has to stop if responsible long-term care planning is to have a chance." 

Source:  Stephen Moses, president, Center for Long-Term Care Reform, Inc. *** 

 

LTC BULLET:  WSJ SAYS DON'T COUNT ON GOVERNMENT FOR LTC 

LTC Comment:  Today's Wall Street Journal contains an excellent article by Kelly Greene (filling in for Jonathan Clements's "Getting Going" column).  Titled "Be Prepared: Government Funding for Nursing-Home Care May Be Cut," the piece warns that Congress will likely make Medicaid LTC benefits harder and LTC insurance more important to get.  Pick up a copy of the Journal or read the article electronically if you have a subscription to the WSJ Online:  http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112604564233833232,00.html

This article's message is critical for the public to receive.  Medicaid's ability to provide a long-term care safety net for most Americans has come to an end.  The program is already reeling fiscally long before the Age Wave will place the heaviest financial pressure on it.  Something has to be done to wake Americans up to the risk of long-term care and persuade them to save, invest or insure to meet that risk.  Articles in the national media like this one help immensely to wake the public up to the biggest LTC risk, i.e. that the government-financed safety net will soon collapse altogether. 

Following are some excerpts from Kelly Greene, "Be Prepared:  Government Funding for Nursing-Home Care May Be Cut," Wall Street Journal, Page D1, September 7, 2005. 

"A lengthy stay in a nursing home, especially for those relying on help from Medicaid, could become even more expensive under rules proposed to save the government health program money. 

"Medicaid, a joint federal and state program for the needy, pays almost half of the country's long-term-care bills.  But the Bush administration's budget plan, now being addressed by Congress, proposes cutting the Medicaid budget, which is $329 billion this year, by at least $10 billion over five years. 

"A commission convened in May by the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicaid, last week came up with specific proposals for tightening Medicaid's use for long-term care.  The same proposals were made in President Bush's budget plan and in recommendations by the National Governors Association. 

"'There's a political earthquake going on now with Medicaid and long-term care,' says Stephen Moses, president of the Center for Long-Term Care Reform Inc. in Seattle.  'In the future, Medicaid will no longer be a resource for middle- and upper-class people.' 

"Part of the proposed cuts could come from tightening loopholes that let some older people qualify for aid by sheltering their assets.  . . . 

"The proposed change could make it even tougher for older parents to leave their assets intact for their boomer children, while at the same time getting government help with long-term-care costs. . . . 

"Congress is also considering measures aimed at softening the blow.  Separate bills being considered in the Senate and House propose expanding nationwide the so-called Partnership for Long-Term Care, a public-private long-term-care insurance program that's currently available in four states:  California, Connecticut, Indiana and New York. 

"Under the partnership program, a person buys a private long-term-care policy that has been approved by state officials.  If the person later enters long-term care and exhausts the private policy's coverage, he can still apply for Medicaid to help cover any additional costs. . . . 

"In the states with these programs, the long-term-care insurance market grew 23% faster from 1993 (when the programs were started) to 2001 than in states without them, says Mark Meiners, a health policy professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., who helped develop the partnership program.  So far, of the 180,000 policies purchased since 1992, only 89 have been exhausted, a recent study found. . . . 

"There's no assurance that Congress will agree in the current session on the details of Medicaid cuts, or to expand the long-term-care-insurance program.  Even so, the intensifying focus on Medicaid's costs should be a red flag to anyone counting on government aid for long-term care."