Poll shows retirees don't see Medicaid as important to their future LTC needs

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Very few retirees see Medicaid as having a role in their long-term care needs, according to a new poll.

Only 10% of pre-retirees and 7% of retirees think Medicaid will pay the majority of their costs for three months in a nursing home, according to the poll, conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health. Additionally, only 32% of retirees want major changes in the Medicare program, compared to 47% of pre-retirees.

The poll amplifies what researchers have seen before: While an aging population may support changes to Medicare, they see the federal-state Medicaid program as irrelevant to their lives. That's at odds with Medicaid, by far, being the predominant payer for nursing homes.

“The risk is that people don't seem themselves as having a stake,” says Harvard Opinion Research Program's Gillian SteelFisher, PhD., who worked on the poll. “There is a message that doesn't get out to the public about the role of Medicaid. From a public policy perspective, people don't understand it has playing a role in nursing home care. Those two things dovetail.”

The poll is part of a series developed by NPR, RWJF, and the Harvard School of Public Health.