Governors Discuss Recommendations on Long-Term Care at Meeting
States must make revisions to health care and other programs to address the "rapidly growing population of those 65 and older," governors said on Sunday at the summer meeting of the National Governors Association in Seattle, the AP/Boston Globe reports. At the three-day meeting, governors recommended that states streamline paperwork to allow elderly hospital patients to receive care at home, rather than in nursing homes; promote "elder-ready" communities with accessible transportation, shopping and social services; and increase tax cuts or tax credits for individuals who care for elderly patients. Ohio Gov. Bob Taft (R) said, "This is a huge national issue both because of the aging population and with regard to the costs of caring for this population. We need to move forward in the most caring way and in a way we can afford."
According to Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R), almost half of the 77 million baby boomers who will reach age 65 within the next eight years may have to file for bankruptcy because of long-term care costs. "What kind of future is that?" Kempthorne said. In addition, governors raised concerns about the "huge share that Medicaid eats from state budgets" and the "driving force of the elderly behind the growing Medicaid program," the AP/Globe reports. State officials estimate that elderly and disabled populations account for about two-thirds of their Medicaid budgets. Medicaid expenditures account for about 20% of state budgets on average, the AP/Globe reports.
Meanwhile, at a rally outside the meeting, several hundred members of ADAPT, a national disability rights group, called on governors to require state Medicaid programs to "more quickly turn" to programs that would allow elderly beneficiaries to receive care at home, rather than in nursing homes, the AP/Globe reports. "The goal is for people to be able to choose if they want to receive long-term care in their own home or in nursing homes," ADAPT coordinator Marsha Katz said, adding, "They would literally rather go to jail than go into a nursing home" (Tanner, AP/Boston Globe, 7/19).
C-SPAN on Monday will air the final plenary session of the NGA meeting. Speakers at the session, "A Consumer Driven Health Care System in the Digital Age," will include Kempthorne; Gov. Mark Warner (D-Va.); former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.); and Leon Panetta, who served as White House chief of staff under former President Clinton (C-SPAN, 7/19). The segment will air on C-SPAN3 at 5:30 p.m. ET and will be available online in RealPlayer and Windows Media after the broadcast.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.