Good timing for AAHSA conference

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Emotions will be running high at the rapidly approaching conference of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. The question is, will the mood be one of elation or disappointment?

The exposition comes at a particularly exciting time: on the heels of the expected Saturday vote on the House healthcare reform bill. The vote is momentous to this crowd because the bill contains the CLASS Act, which AAHSA has embraced since the Committee on Education, Labor and Pensions first introduced it. The House also has included it in its bill. It remains to be seen whether it will appear in the Senate's final version, however.

The act has encountered some resistance of late from lawmakers and even those within the long-term care community. (See the recent Guest Column from Steve Moses.) There are questions about what each person would have to pay into the long-term care disability insurance trust to keep it solvent. Then there is skepticism about whether we need it, given we already have a private long-term care insurance industry. 

The Congressional Budget Office back in June determined that the program would produce about $58 billion in revenue from 2010 to 2019. That includes savings of $2.5 billion from the Medicaid program. Those revenues would come from workers paying at least $65 in monthly premiums. Those workers who become disabled would receive an average of $50 a day after a five-year vesting period.

The feeling among some McKnight's readers (as their comments indicate) is that, while the provision likely would not be a cure-all for long-term care home costs, it at least would raise awareness about the need for long-term care insurance. At this point, most consumers don't think ahead about long-term care, and are actually under the false impression that Medicare pays for it.

This makes sense to me. To take a step back, the trust actually is not intended to serve as the only source of funding for long-term care costs. It is meant to work with a wraparound long-term care insurance policy. One of the main reasons for the trust is to take away some of the costs from Medicaid, which soon will no longer be sustainable as a long-term care funding program.

We all know that Congress has to address Medicaid and long-term care at some point—and we know it isn't going to be during this round of healthcare reform. But the CLASS Act represents a step toward addressing the funding crisis. And whether it ultimately passes or not, I think we all can agree it, at least, has got people talking about the problem. 


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Daily Editors' Notes

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 Marty Stempniak.