LTC Bullet:  First LTC Gadfly Brigade Mobilizes 

Thursday, April 12, 2007 

Seattle-- 

LTC Comment:  To fix LTC policy, we have to reach the right people:  politicians, policy makers and the media.  The Iowa LTC Gadflies have taken up that challenge, after the ***news.*** 

*** NOTE.  We need your help with this one, folks.  Please forward today's Bullet to friends, colleagues and competitors (and especially to companies) you think might be willing to get behind this initiative to promote rational LTC public policy. *** 

*** SPECIAL APPEAL.  I'm confident everyone will read this Bullet to the very end, but just in case you don't, here's what you'll find if you do.  "To help support the National LTC Consciousness Tour, we appeal to you for a special targeted contribution to the Center for Long-Term Care Reform.  Give $100 or more toward this project and we'll publish your name, credentials, and business affiliation on the Center for Long-Term Care Reform's website.  You'll be listed as a "CLTCR National LTC Consciousness Tour Guide."  Or, remain anonymous if you'd prefer.  Just let us know."  Give $250 and we'll post your ad on the LTC Blog at www.centerltc.com.  Give $500 and we'll throw in a Bullet sponsorship.  Help us make this project a success. *** 

*** AARP COPIES CLTCR.  Long after the Center for Long-Term Care Reform announced our "National LTC Consciousness Tour" with its early focus on Iowa, AARP began an identical initiative.  Their plan is to compel presidential candidates from both parties to engage voters on health care and financial security issues, according to CongressDaily.  AARP is a huge trade association dedicated principally to selling commercial products profitably to seniors.  It uses its profits, tax benefits, and public monies to push government toward taxing young people who are struggling financially in order to fund free benefits of all kinds for prosperous elders, i.e. AARP's members.  What a racket!  AARP has millions of dollars to urge politicians toward policies which are diametrically opposed to what we advocate and the country needs.  So, reread our appeal for support of the Center's campaign; pony up if you can.  And remember what David did to Goliath!  With the stone of facts and the sling of logic, we can bring this giant of hypocrisy down.  Or at least, hit him "where it hurts" . . . in the credibility.  *** 

*** BROKER WORDS ABOUT OUR PROJECT.  In the lead editorial to her magazine's March issue, Broker World editor Sharon Chace writes at length about the Center's National Long-Term Care Consciousness Tour.  Here's a taste:  "The plan is for Moses and members of the LTC Gadfly Brigade to write op-ed articles, meet with newspaper editorial boards, and do talk radio.  They will engage politicians and public officials.  They will enlist LTC providers, educate financial planners and accountants, address estate planning councils, and work with reverse mortgage lenders.  Moses says, 'We will rock the boat but we'll do it with humor and good will.'"  Thanks for the "shout-out," Sharon. *** 

 

LTC BULLET:  LTC GADFLY BRIGADE MOBILIZES IN IOWA 

LTC Comment:  Back in January, I proposed a plan to get "long-term care on the political front burner during the coming presidential campaign season."  Read about it in "LTC Bullet:  LTC Gadflies," January 23, 2007 at http://www.centerltc.com/bullets/archives2007/672.htm.  

I proposed a national mobilization of grass roots advocates for rational LTC policy.  Together, we'd ask aspiring politicians the tough personal and policy questions about paying for LTC.  We'd back up these efforts with letters to the editor and op-ed articles that I'd help write. 

No sooner did that proposal hit the blogosphere than I heard from a public relations expert in Iowa.  He advised:  "Don't wait until 2008 and don't dilute your efforts by going national.  Come to Iowa.  That's where all the presidential candidates will be.  And that's where they're most accessible." 

Made sense to me.  So we launched an appeal to front line LTC troops in Iowa, including folks in the LTC insurance, provider and reverse mortgage businesses.  Read the call to action in "LTC Bullet:  LTC Gadflies in Iowa," February 1, 2007 at http://www.centerltc.com/bullets/archives2007/675.htm.   

A handful of motivated Iowans showed interest.  They circulated flyers among their colleagues (and competition).  One volunteered a venue for a meeting.  Before long, we had a core group signed up to attend a planning session in Des Moines.   

In "LTC Bullet:  National LTC Consciousness Campaign Begins in Iowa," March 7, 2007 at http://www.centerltc.com/bullets/archives2007/681.htm, we appealed to Center members for special contributions so I could go to Iowa, attend the meeting, and suggest some strategies.  Several members, who are listed by name and business affiliation at the top of our "LTC Blog" at www.centerltc.com, contributed enough to fund my participation. 

So, we convened a group of about 20 top-notch experts in a Des Moines suburb on April 2.  They included LTC insurance marketers, several reverse mortgage specialists, a nursing home association representative, a Medicaid estate recovery expert, a public relations executive, and yours truly.  Sincere thanks to Karey Meek-Anderson and Iowa Bankers Insurance for hosting the event. 

At the meeting, we heard a presentation on how to reach presidential candidates, their staffs, and the media with our questions and proposals regarding LTC policy.  Stay tuned for a summary of those suggestions.  We learned how Medicaid estate recovery works.  We heard about a new "LTC Guild" forming in Iowa to bring together professionals concerned about long-term care in a cooperative and educational setting.  We heard an explanation of reverse mortgages and how they can help older people fund home care or to afford LTC insurance. 

Now, here's the advice Bob Fleming of the PR firm called The Sumo Group gave us about political policy advocacy: 

1.  He knows whereof he speaks having been chief of staff to the House Majority Leader and having worked in numerous political campaigns both on behalf of candidates and representing clients such as the American Cancer Society in pursuit of their public policy objectives. 

2.  2008 is a bellwether presidential election.  For the first time since 1952, there is no incumbent President or Vice President running.  Many candidates representing a broad diversity of views are running or will be running.  And they are very accessible in Iowa! 

3.  Unlike other states where the candidates will campaign mostly on TV, they'll have to do retail politics in Iowa because of the state's first-in-the-nation "caucus."  The candidates will be in cafes, shopping centers, and all sorts of venues throughout the state for many months. 

4.  They're more approachable now than they will ever be.  Reaching them in person and interjecting our issue, ideas, and concerns is easy.  All you have to do is show up, ask questions, and document their replies and policy positions with letters to the editor of your local paper.  Go to campaign events.  Visit the candidates' headquarters and ask to speak with a staffer about long-term care. 

5.  How do you find out where the candidates will be?  Easy.  "Stalk and talk."  Check the newspapers.  Visit or email their campaign headquarters.  Consult www.KCCI.com,  which publishes their schedules. 

6.  It's not just the candidates you can reach.  National media, including TV anchors and reporters from newspapers across the country, will be in Iowa in force.  They'll be looking for new and different issues and angles.  Talk to them. 

7.  How should we raise our issue?  Simple.  Iowa has the oldest population in the country.  Financing long-term care is already a big issue and it will get much bigger and more expensive as the boomer generation ages.  Lead with those facts and ask questions: 

What do you propose to deal with the aging of the population?  How will you protect Social Security and Medicare?  How can Americans afford long-term care?  I (Steve) would add:  Do you have long-term care insurance for yourself?  What do you think about people impoverishing themselves to qualify for Medicaid?  How do you feel about using home equity with "reverse mortgages" to pay for long-term care? 

8.  When asking questions or addressing candidates or the media:  be passionate.  That's great.  But don't sound angry. 

9.  Is it a waste of time if you know most of the candidates you talk to will never become President?  No.  If they lose, they'll go back to being prominent members of Congress or maybe Secretary of State or Defense.  And besides, half the battle is getting the issue on the political and media radar screens, no matter who is elected. 

I followed up with this appeal to the Iowa LTC Gadflies: 

"Bottom line, folks, this is our chance to make a difference.  Give these ideas a try.  Reach out to a candidate.  Go to a campaign event.  Visit a headquarters.  Buttonhole a candidate or staff member and tell him or her how important long-term care is to you.  Write a letter to the editor. Then, drop me an email and let me know what you've done.  Send a copy of your letter to the editor so we can share it with others.  My first Iowa letter, to the Des Moines Register, is attached.  (Also published as "LTC E-Alert #7-043:  125,000 LTCI Policies and No Claims Payment Problem, April 5, 2007 at http://www.centerltc.com/members/e-alerts/ltc_ea7-043.htm in The Zone.)
If you see a good news hook, let me know and I'll try to draft an 'op-ed' article for the newspaper.  I'll circulate the information you send me as time permits and we'll just see where this goes. 

"Finally, I don't have unlimited time to devote to this project.  If you don't hear from me for extended periods, it will because I have to make a living too.  But keep sending your stories and examples of your activities and progress and I'll do my best to get the word out to the others.  So, don your Nikes and . . .  Just Do It!" 

Well then, friends and supporters, that's where our "National Long-Term Care Consciousness Campaign" stands as of now.  I'd like to take this initiative to New Hampshire, the other early-primary state where presidential candidates are flocking and relatively accessible.  But the Center for Long-Term Care Reform lacks the resources to do very much pro bono.  So, let me make the same invitation as I did before: 

To help support the National LTC Consciousness Tour, we appeal to you for a special targeted contribution to the Center for Long-Term Care Reform.  Give $100 or more toward this project and we'll publish your name, credentials, and business affiliation on the Center for Long-Term Care Reform's website.  You'll be listed as a "CLTCR National LTC Consciousness Tour Guide."  Or, remain anonymous if you'd prefer.  Just let us know. 

With your help, we can pursue this initiative in Iowa and New Hampshire this year while the leverage from the earliest caucus and primary is huge.  Then next year, after the super-primary on February 5 has winnowed the presidential candidates down to a select few, we'll go national.  We'll target six separate regions of the country, work with local experts, and target the state and local policy makers, politicians and media. 

Who's game?