Long-Range Outlook for Long-Term Care

It was a good year for long-term care policy issues in the Capitol, and there will be a full slate of them again in the 2016 session. That was one of the take-home messages from the annual Long-Term Services and Supports Summit in Sacramento last month.

“It was heartening to see so many pieces of [long-term care] legislation taken seriously, and to have the Select Committee on Agings’ recommendations taken so seriously,” said Bruce Chernof, president and CEO of the SCAN Foundation, which sponsored the Oct. 27 summit.

By Chernof’s count, there were 33 bills proposed in the Legislature this year that dealt with long-term care issues, and 14 of them became law. Some of the unfinished legislation will come up in the 2016 session, as a number of them are two-year bills, Chernof said.

“[Some of them] are the important, difficult, big-picture questions,” he said. “Like should the state take a look at what it would mean to develop a planning tool for people to pay for long-term care? Or should we expand the nurse practitioners’ scope of practice? They address the broader question of how we build teams to meet the needs of the most vulnerable population in the state.”

“All of these [bills] are more visionary, and by nature are two-year bills because of the questions they ask,” Chernof said. “I’m not saying those will all get done, but it starts to focus on where we want to go. … A lot of them are really good ideas, but they needed more baking and refinement and that’s what the second session will do.”

Gretchen Alkema is vice president for policy and communications at the SCAN Foundation, and she added that the recent agreement between state and federal health officials on a new $6 billion waiver also could address some of the concerns raised at the summit by long-term care advocates — especially the home health pilot included in the new 1115 waiver.

“The major thing we’re looking out for is greater coordination and better integration of care,” Alkema said. “With a number of other pieces like the work of the 1115 waiver, that will help take the next big step forward. [The goal has been to] have a person-centered vision of care, and the technical pieces are the next big shift.”

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