Governors' letter puts Medicaid long-term care spending in spotlight

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State governors are pushing for long-term care policy changes in the Medicaid program to help curb state budget spending.

A letter from the National Governors Association to the Medicaid Commission stressed the need for greater coordination between Medicaid and Medicare as a way of reining in long-term care costs for dual eligibles. It also suggested that the Medicaid Commission consider other long-term care financing options, like offering incentives to promote the purchase of private long-term insurance.

The commission was created by the Bush administration and is charged with recommending ways to reform and extend the long-term viability of the Medicaid program. Major recommendations are due by the end of the year.

"Medicaid has become the nation's largest payer of long-term care services, funding approximately 50 percent of long-term care spending and nearly two-thirds of the costs for all nursing home residents ... Medicaid simply cannot continue to afford to be the predominant provider of long-term coverage for seniors," NGA said in the letter.