Health Care Proposals Among White House Aging Conference Delegates’ Recommendations
Delegates at the 2005 White House Conference on Aging made a number of policy recommendations in the final day of the conference on Wednesday, including several related to health care, the St. Petersburg Times reports (Nohlgren, St. Petersburg Times, 12/15). The conference, held in Washington, D.C., featured 1,200 delegates chosen by members of Congress, the Bush administration and each governor.
It is convened every 10 years to propose public policies on aging issues. Delegates must deliver to all state governors a list of recommendations within 100 days and present a final draft to Congress and President Bush by June (California Healthline, 12/14).
Delegates' primary recommendation this year is for Congress to "refund the Older Americans Act," which launched such programs as Meals on Wheels, senior centers and home health aides, according to the Times.
Other recommendations include:
- Allowing individuals who leave their jobs to care for a chronically ill family member to become eligible for Medicare when they lose their employee health insurance;
- Requiring Medicare and Medicaid to reimburse doctors for conducting treatment discussions via e-mail and videoconferencing to accommodate homebound patients;
- Standardize software coding to allow providers and social agencies to exchange electronic health records; and
- Make Medicare -- not the employee's health plan -- the primary health insurer for workers ages 65 and older to encourage businesses to hire and retain older workers (St. Petersburg Times, 12/15).
In related news, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows decreasing support for Bush among seniors and dissatisfaction with the new Medicare drug benefit. The poll -- based on nationwide telephone interviews with 1,006 U.S. adults between Dec. 9 and Dec. 12 -- finds that U.S. residents ages 65 and older disapprove of Bush's job performance by a margin of 20 percentage points, compared with 16 percentage points among those under age 65.
In addition, 65% of U.S. residents ages 65 and older disapprove of Congress' performance, compared with 19% who approve. Among those under age 65, the disapproval-approval ratio for Congress is 58% to 27%.
Forty percent of those ages 65 and older view the new Medicare drug benefit unfavorably, compared with 23% who have a favorable view. About 73% of seniors say the new benefit is "too complicated and too confusing," according to the poll (Harwood, Wall Street Journal, 12/15).