Time for long-term care to go postal?

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James M. Berklan
James M. Berklan

One of my favorite gone-off-the-rails fundraising stories involves one of my former college roommates.

A Communications major in class and social animal the rest of the time, “Party Artie” was in need of a quick fix for a debate class assignment. The challenge was to improve some wretched societal condition (I forget exactly which), so he and his debate partner decided an alternate funding stream could pave the way.

Enter a precocious underclassman who figuratively and literally looked up to my 6-foot-7 former roommate. The idea he loaned Artie was genius: Start a national lottery, with the proceeds funding Artie and partner's plan, which would bring debate victory. In these pre-Powerball and Mega Millions days, the debating duo had this scheme scored down to how many millions could be raised weekly, putting society on the right path and them on Easy Street to an “A.”

They presented their argument in class. The teacher nodded his head appreciatively. And then revealed that the great lottery plan was something he had presented to the debate team as his own original idea about a week earlier. Oops.

The idolizing underclassman was a member of the debate team but apparently forgot to disclose some important facts about the origin of "his" plan.

Artie survived the incident, passed the class and now runs a very successful family business. But I don't think he's bought a single lottery ticket in the decades that have passed.

So what does this have to do with long-term care? Well, it zoomed back to mind when I caught wind of another clever fundraising idea the other day. This time, it's from the U.S. Postal Service and there appears to be no plagiarization possibilities.

The operative phrase is “semipostal stamps,” something I had never heard of before Monday. The newly passed Semipostal Authorization Act allows the USPS to issue and sell five semipostal stamps to advance important causes viewed to be “in the national public interest and appropriate.” 

Such stamps, also called "charity" stamps, date back to 19th century England and became widespread in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. The first U.S. semipostal was issued in July 1998 and benefited breast cancer research; four more were subsequently issued.

Now the USPS has the authority to issue five more of these semipostals over the next 10 years. Each will be sold for a limit of two years.

The cost will be 60 cents each — 11 cents more than a regular first-class stamp. Net proceeds will be distributed to the Department of Health and Human Services. The first issuance will be the Alzheimer's Semipostal Stamp. Following it will be a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stamp and three more yet to be determined.

This program might not raise enough to find a cure for Alzheimer's or eradicate PSTD, but that's OK. The savings the fundraising leads to could still be huge.

That's where I challenge long-term care leaders and stakeholders to throw their hats into the ring. By law, proposals can be submitted for nearly six more years (until May 20, 2023).

How about proposing an LTC stamp to create a pool to raise CNA wages nationwide? Or to pay for exorbitant liability insurance costs? To set up oral health clinics for seniors around the country? To fund renovations for aging facilities that date back to the start of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s? The possibilities are endless, the needs are undeniable.

When you get a good idea, share it below in the comments section. Then think about sending it in for official consideration to:

Office of Stamp Services, Attn: Semipostal Discretionary Program, 475 L'Enfant PLaza SW, Room 3300, Washington, DC 20260-3501

Just make sure the ideas you propose are your own — and not some teacher's.

Follow Editor James M. Berklan on Twitter @jimberklan.


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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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