LTC Bullet: Do We Need an LTC Tea Party?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Barstow, California--

LTC Comment: If excessive taxes and out-of-control government spending call for "tea parties," what about our dysfunctional LTC delivery and financing system? Answers after the ***news.***

*** HAPPY TAX DAY! Actually, the official tax day, the day by which the average American had worked long enough to pay his or her taxes for the year (103 days), was Monday, April 13, two days ago. If taxes are the price we pay for civilization, as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said, ask yourself how civilized our LTC system is after you read today's LTC Bullet. ***

*** WESTERN TOUR ITINERARY. As summarized in yesterday's LTC E-Alert (see it archived at our LTC Blog) here's where you can schedule Steve Moses and the Silver Bullet of LTC for your very own "LTC Tea Party" over the next couple months:

April 15 to 20: Los Angeles area.

April 21 to 28: Arizona, especially Flagstaff, Phoenix and Tucson

April 29 to May 9: Florida, especially Miami, Orlando and Tampa

May 10 to 16: New Mexico, especially Albuquerque and Santa Fe

May 17 to 20: Denver and Colorado

May 21 to 26: Salt Lake City and Utah

May 27 to 28: Missoula and Montana

May 29 to 31: Spokane and Eastern Washington ***



LTC Comment: Across the country today, at 300 locations in all 50 states, citizens are staging "tea parties" to protest high taxes and explosive public spending. That got me thinking: Do We Need an LTC Tea Party?

Think about it. We have a new President, a new administration, a new focus on fixing government, on helping those in need, and on holding those in power accountable. So why not tackle the utter inequities in our long-term care financing system?

For example, Medicaid is the dominant funder of long-term care. It's supposedly a safety net for the poor. But in truth it pays for most expensive LTC for nearly everyone, thus crowding out privately financed home care and LTC insurance to pay for it. What's fair about that?

Anyone with income below the cost of a nursing home qualifies for Medicaid LTC. That means the poor get Medicaid, but so do people with substantial incomes who should, could and would have paid for their own LTC or bought LTCi. What's fair about that?

Even after the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA '05), Medicaid exempts up to $750,000 of home equity (the socialized UK system only allows $42,000) enabling upper middle class people to co-opt benefits intended for the poor. What's fair about that?

Medicaid planners artificially impoverish affluent people to qualify them for government-financed long-term care and hold out "key money" to buy their clients' way into the best facilities. The poor are left with the dregs of long-term care. What's fair about that?

Give away $10 million five years before you need LTC and Medicaid doesn't even ask, but Germany (another socialized health care system) goes back ten years to recover assets transferred to game their LTC system. What's fair about that?

Medicaid spending, especially for LTC, is killing state and federal budgets, but the feds make supplemental "stimulus" funds contingent upon states retaining extravagant eligibility rules that benefit the rich while hurting the poor. What's fair about that?

States are slashing programs for the vulnerable and shorting high-minority nursing homes while preserving easy Medicaid eligibility for the prosperous, thus further anesthetizing them and their heirs to the risk and cost of LTC. What's fair about that?

And as the government continues to crowd out private financing alternatives such as home equity conversion and private LTC insurance, "a new analysis shows that when the cost of health care and long-term care is included, 64 percent of retirees likely will be unable to maintain the lifestyle they had before retirement." What's fair about that?

The solution is simple. Target scarce Medicaid funds to people truly in need and encourage everyone who is young, healthy and affluent enough to save, invest or insure for long-term care. That is fair!

Last year's "National Long-Term Care Consciousness Tour" and this year's "Western LTC Tour" are all about getting politicians, policy makers, publishers and people to think about these inequities and do something about them.

The Center for Long-Term Care Reform seeks your support, including your financial contributions and time, to help us fight the good fight for responsible long-term care policy and planning. Sponsor your own "LTC Tea Party" by inviting us in to serve this healthful brew.