If You Need Long-Term Care, It Matters Where You Live

If you or a loved one needs long-term care, where you live matters…a lot. A new report by AARP shows wide variation in the quality of supports and services among states—whether delivered at home or in a nursing facility. While it found important improvements across states, it also identified significant shortcomings, even in the highest-rated states.

The best states to get care: Washington, Minnesota, Vermont, Oregon, and Alaska. Washington and Minnesota have been consistent leaders in the AARP reports, which began in 2011. The worst states: Tennessee, Mississippi,   Alabama, Kentucky, and Indiana.  However, Tennessee, along with New York, showed the greatest improvement since AARP’s last report in 2014.

How Long-Term Care Helped Wreck British PM Theresa May’s Election Campaign

You probably know by now that last week’s snap election was a disaster for UK Prime Minister Theresa May and her Conservative Party. But you may not know that one issue that cost the Tories their strong parliamentary majority was a proposal that came to be known as the “dementia tax.”  It is a story that has some important lessons for the US.

In the run-up to the election, May proposed major changes in the way the UK provides long-term care.  The Tory manifesto’s aim was to make public support for services more broadly available to low-income people and provide more equal assistance to those living at home and in residential care. But that was not how it played to voters. Hence: the dementia tax.

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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.”