The Congressional Long-Term Care Commission met for the first time on Thursday, just two days after naming an executive director. But members acknowledge they have no choice but to finish in barely 90 days. That’s an absurdly short amount of time for the panel to meet the ambitious goal Congress gave it—to recommend ways to improve the way we deliver and finance long-term supports and services.
Commissioners say they may try to convince Congress to renew the panel in the fall but, for now, they say they have no choice but to finish their deliberations and write a report according to the schedule Congress gave them early this year. That means they need to wrap up by Sept. 30.
“There are a lot of things we would have liked to do as a commission, but we will be done by the end of September,” said Bruce Chernof, CEO of the SCAN Foundation and the commission’s chair.
Two commissioners told me the panel may try to get an extension after September. Their idea: Show Congress some progress in what would be an interim report and then ask for additional time to dive deeper in the issues. However, convincing lawmakers to grant extra time remains a long-shot.
The panel’s executive director will be Larry Atkins, a well-known Washington health policy expert. In the 1980s, he was staff director of the Senate Special Committee on Aging under Senator John Heinz (R-PA). More recently, he was a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry. He is currently President of the National Academy of Social Insurance.
The 15-member commission is made up of nine Democrats and six Republicans. It was created in January as part of the measure that repealed the CLASS Act but it took months for the Obama Administration and congressional leaders to pick its members and more time for the panel to organize its first meeting. It must operate with a very limited budget and staff.