Senior Care on “Slippery Ledge,” LTC Commission Has Its Work Cut Out

A last-minute budget agreement reached by lawmakers in the first days of January may have averted the country from going off the “fiscal cliff,” but the nation is still left facing a looming “long-term care ledge,” according to a Becker’s Hospital Review piece

The agreement included the repeal of the CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports) Act, a voluntary long-term care insurance program included in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act that the Department of Health and Human Services had previously admitted was “totally unsustainable.”  

In its place, lawmakers created the National Commission on Long-Term Care, tasked with developing “a plan for the establishment, implementation, and financing of a comprehensive, coordinated and high-quality system that ensures the availability of long-term services and supports for individuals in need of such services and supports,” and championed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D.-W.V.).

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Harlon Wilson, MS, a health information technology executive and Chief Innovation and HIPPA Compliance Officer for CareGivers, Inc. writes for Becker’s Hospital Review: 

Solutions that will finally answer how to pay the bills while also providing quality medical treatment and long-term care for our seniors—at a time when most needed—must be realized if we are to step away from the shaky ledge.

At risk is an unprecedented increase in the cost of care that will be created by too much focus on cutting costs and not enough preparation for affording the quality of care that will be needed. Healthcare providers and home health agencies will undoubtedly be faced with reduced reimbursements while sick and disabled elders will pay the ultimate price: lack of quality care. Home health and personal care services agencies provide a formidable solution but appropriate remunerations that empower quality care are essential.

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The fiscal business of providing care for our seniors must pay for a comprehensive care plan that not only ensures the sick receive quality care during hospitalization and in acute-care settings, but also that adequate reimbursement for skilled nursing, home health and hospice care services is provided.

As the long-term health commission takes shape in the midst of the healthcare sector’s historic transformation, the future of Medicare and Medicaid coverage for medical treatment, home health, skilled nursing and hospice care for the elder population remains in the balance. Teeter-tottering on the slippery ledge are measures that must account for both quality and sustainability of the long-term care needs of our nation’s elders.

The commission will have its work cut out for it as it seeks to fix the broken finance system as part of the near-term fiscal cliff without unwittingly creating a catastrophic dive from the long-term care ledge.

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Read the full piece here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace