Legislation Expected To Address Long-Term Care
House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Chair Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) on Wednesday said that he plans to introduce legislation that would establish state demonstration projects to help U.S. residents use home equity to pay for long-term care to retain a larger share of their assets and apply for Medicaid coverage, CQ HealthBeat reports.
At a subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, witnesses said that the need for long-term care will continue to increase as the population ages. According to witnesses, reverse mortgages that allow residents to remain in their homes and receive long-term care, as well as tax incentives that help reduce the cost of long-term care insurance, could help address the issue.
Barbara Stucki of the National Council on Aging, said, "With over $2 trillion tied up in their homes, home equity has the potential to help rebalance our nation's long-term care delivery system, integrate financing for housing and supportive services for seniors, and create new opportunities for public-private partnerships."
America's Health Insurance Plans President and CEO Karen Ignagni proposed an "above-the-line" tax deduction to help cover the cost of long-term care insurance, legislation to allow the use of funds from cafeteria and flexible spending accounts to purchase coverage and a presidential commission to address long-term care needs.
In 2000, an estimated 9.5 million residents -- six million elderly and 3.5 million nonelderly -- required long-term care, Deal said. According to AHIP, on average, a private nursing home room costs almost $71,000 annually, and a semi-private room costs $62,525 annually.
Medicaid currently covers about 45% of U.S. long-term care costs, compared with 14% for Medicare, 11% for private health insurers and 23% for individuals, CQ HealthBeat reports (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 5/17).
In related news, the House Education and the Workforce Committee on Wednesday by voice vote approved a bill (HR 5293) that would revise the 1965 Older Americans Act, CQ Today reports. The law, last reauthorized in 2000, authorizes programs administered by the Administration on Aging, which funds transportation, referrals to home care, health, legal aid and other social services. The law expired in 2005 but appropriations for AOA programs have continued (Barrett, CQ Today, 5/17).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.