Trump Backs Paid Leave for New Parents, But Ignores Those Caring For The Elderly

The Trump Administration believes that caring for babies is so important that employers should give their parents up to six weeks of paid leave. It apparently doesn’t believe it is as important, or as disruptive to work life, to care for aging parents or other relatives in need of personal assistance.

That, at least, is the message it is sending in Trump’s 2018 budget. In a fiscal plan otherwise filled with cuts to government-funded social supports, the president proposed allowing states to use their unemployment insurance systems to fund paid family leave.  The US is the only developed country in the world without a paid leave program.

Americans Remain Baffled By Long-Term Care Financing, But Would Like A Medicare Benefit.

Americans age 40 and older continued to be flummoxed by the challenges of long-term care financing, but increasingly believe that Medicare ought to provide such supports and services. According to a new poll by the Associated Press-University of Chicago NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (AP-NORC), support for a Medicare long-term care benefit has grown significantly over the past five years. And for the first time since the survey began, a majority of Republicans favor Medicare long-term care.

Trump’s Budget For Seniors: Bad, But It Could Have Been Worse

The best that can be said about President Trump’s 2018 budget and older adults: It could have been worse.

In a fiscal plan focused on historic domestic spending cuts, programs for older adults were hit by substantial reductions, though not slashed as deeply as other domestic programs.

Medicare was largely untouched. So was Social Security for seniors, although Trump would tighten eligibility and reduce some benefits in the Social Security disability program. Spending for most senior services programs was frozen for yet another year while subsidies for low-income senior housing were increased.

The House Health Bill: Bad For Seniors, Bad For Long-Term Care Insurance

The House-passed health bill could further batter the already-beaten down market for long-term care insurance. And drive even more middle income seniors into impoverishment and onto Medicaid long-term care.

Here’s why:  The House bill, called the American Health Care Act (AHCA) would significantly raise health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical costs for buyers aged 50-64. And that is exactly the age at which people think about buying long-term care (LTC) insurance. While only about 9 percent of buyers are under 50, two-thirds are age 50-64, according to an industry survey.

Seniors Had A Terrible Week In Washington. It Could Get Worse

Congress and President Trump took dead aim at seniors and younger people with disabilities this week. First, Congress voted to cut or freeze funding for key federal senior service programs. Then the House passed its bill to replace the Affordable Care Act—a measure that would make health insurance unaffordable for many people aged 50-64, allow insurance companies to sell policies that exclude important benefits for  people with chronic conditions, and slash Medicaid spending for those who need long-term supports and services.

Fix The Affordable Care Act By Letting People 55-64 Buy Into Medicare

Congressional Republicans seem once again stymied in their efforts to “repeal and replace Obamacare.” So here is a partial solution that can be a winner for both political parties, the insurance industry, and consumers: Allow people 55-64 to buy into Medicare. And enhance the deal by letting Medicare Advantage plans offer some long-term supports and services, such as personal care, as part of their benefit package.

The idea of a Medicare buy-in has been around for years. It was proposed by President Bill Clinton and endorsed again in the recent presidential campaign by Hillary Clinton. About now, you are thinking that the Clinton pedigree is a death sentence in a Republican-controlled government.

How Health Systems Can Provide Better Care For Seniors

Older adults are among the biggest victims of our often disorganized, uncoordinated, and impersonal system of medical care. Backwards financial incentives encourage useless tests and dangerous hospital admissions and discourage important social support, personal assistance, and preventive care.  The result is that Medicare pays hundreds of billions of dollars for treatment that not only fails to improve the quality of life of older adults, it often needlessly harms them.

Men Are Family Caregivers Too

About four in 10 family caregivers are men—sons, husbands, brothers, sons-in-law, or neighbors. We are nearly always ignored in discussions about caregiving, lost in the stereotype of the family caregiver as a 40-something daughter.

Finally, AARP is shining a much-needed spotlight on these men. A new study by Jean Accius at AARP’s Public Policy Institute paints a valuable, and rare, picture of male family caregivers. The organization has supplemented Jean’s paper with a series of videos  highlighting men who care for loved ones with serious illnesses.  It is even sponsoring a public service ad starring tough guy actor Danny Trejo. The message: “Caregiving is tougher than tough.”

We May Be About To See A Big Change In How Long-Term Care Insurance Is Priced

The way you pay for long-term care insurance policies may be about to change in a big way.

Genworth, the biggest seller of stand-alone long-term care insurance, is about to ask state insurance regulators for permission to fundamentally revise the way it structures premiums. Instead of holding premiums flat for several years followed by big double-digit rate hikes, it wants to be able to revise premiums annually.

In this design, unfortunately called the Annual Rate Sufficiency Model, buyers of new policies would likely see modest, single-digit rate hikes each year or two. If Genworth thinks it is likely to pay fewer claims than expected or if investment income is higher than projected, consumers might even see small rate reductions in some years.

Despite Medicare, Seniors Will Pay More For Medical Care In Coming Years

Medicare is a critical lifeline for older adults who need health care as they age. But a new study shows that over the next two decades, out-of-pocket medical costs for older adults are likely to rise significantly, even with access to Medicare.

By 2035, a typical senior will spend one out of every seven dollars of retirement income on medical care, a 40 percent increase from 2012. The study, by Laura Hatfield, Thomas McGuire, and Michael Chernew of the Harvard Medical School and my Urban Institute colleague Melissa Favreault, projected that out-of-pocket cost increases will hit poor and near-poor households hardest.  It was published in the journal Health Services Research (paywall).