States Seeking More Medicaid Funds for Long-Term Care
Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton (D), vice chair of the National Governors Association, yesterday told the Senate Special Committee on Aging that states facing rising Medicaid costs need increased funding of long-term care services for the elderly, the AP/Nando Times reports. Funding for long-term care is "often shifted to Medicaid," as Medicare, the federal program for the elderly and disabled, only offers "limited" benefits for services such as nursing home care. The aging of 77 million baby boomers is expected to strain a Medicaid system already weakened by rising health costs and recession-related tight state budgets, the AP/Nando Times reports. "The demand for long-term care services under Medicaid will bankrupt state budgets unless another form of financing is found," Patton said. He added, "This is not an issue that can be put on the back burner until Social Security and Medicare are reformed." Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), Aging Committee chair, said, "[Medicaid] has become our country's de facto payer of long-term care for the elderly and disabled. This is an issue that just can't wait." Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), the committee's ranking Republican, added, "If the way we look at long-term care financing does not change, both state and federal governments may be unable to meet the needs of the many seniors who depend on these programs." The NGA has said it will form a commission to examine Medicaid and is considering a "strategy for getting more federal money" for the program. The commission would include governors, members of Congress, Bush administration officials and "other experts" (Carter, AP/Nando Times, 3/21).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.