CMS Administrator Mark McClellan Calls for New Focus on Long-Term Care
CMS Administrator Mark McClellan on Wednesday at a meeting with health policy experts called for a new focus on long-term care, CongressDaily reports.
According to McClellan, "the status quo is not sustainable" because Medicaid currently pays more than three-fourths of nursing home costs and the U.S. elderly population continues to increase. He added, "Change needs to happen now to meet the needs of a population that wants to remain as active as possible as long as possible."
McClellan also said that CMS has begun to implement provisions of the new Medicare law to improve the availability of "coordinated care" programs. He said, "We spend many millions of dollars a year on ... problems that could have been avoided," adding that improved coordination of care can provide "better outcomes without higher costs."
McClellan also called on Congress this year to remove a Medicaid "institutional bias," under which the program pays for nursing home care but not community-based care. McClellan made the comments in preparation for a White House Conference on Aging scheduled for later this year (CongressDaily, 4/20).
In related news, members of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health at a hearing on Tuesday said that they hope the "growing burden of long-term care for seniors will lead to legislation," but differences between Republicans and Democrats on the issue "may be insurmountable," CQ HealthBeat reports. Republicans support tax incentives for individuals to purchase long-term care insurance, but Democrats maintain that the federal government should provide a "social insurance" plan for long-term care coverage.
"It should be a program, in my opinion, for which everyone pays a small amount, and from which everyone could benefit," Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said.
However, subcommittee chair Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) said, "I do not believe we know how to provide long-term care services for the size population that's going to need them in 10 years."
Long-term care industry officials said that proposed budget reductions for Medicaid and Medicare are "increasing the urgency for changes in the way the care is provided," CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 4/19).