LONG TERM CARE: System Still Not Up to Speed
Not enough has been done to build public/private partnerships to provide long term care for the elderly, according to a new study by the Urban Institute. The current system is "badly broken" and the source of "passionate dissatisfaction," according to the Urban Institute's Joshua Wiener. He said recent attempts in Connecticut, Indiana, California and New York "to provide easier access to Medicaid to those who have taken out approved long term care policies, have failed." This is because long term care policies "remain unaffordable for most elderly Americans" -- just 30,000 of the approved policies have been sold in the four test states. As a result, said Wiener, "Private insurance is unlikely to reform the financing of long-term care." He said the amount of money people are allowed to keep and still receive through Medicaid should be raised so that people are not completely impoverished, recommending that couples be allowed to keep $60,000 in assets and "receive $100 a month for personal needs." He also said that providing in-home services would be a "big improvement" over the current system of institutional care, "as would integrating acute and long term care to remove the incentive for the federal government and the states to shift costs across to each other through" Medicaid and Medicare (Timmins, 3/4).
Today's New York Times reports on the growing business of geriatric care management, a field "born in response to the nation's rapidly aging population and the health care system's complexity." Geriatric care managers are "[p]art counselors and part social workers" who "help manage the health care, living arrangements and other affairs of the elderly clients." Raymond Coward, dean of the School of Health and Human Services at the University of New Hampshire, said, "The systems are so complex now that even some of us who think we know something about them get confused. And families are being pulled in more ways than they have in the past. They've changed to the point where they're looking to share this responsibility with someone else" (Rimer, 3/4).