Healthcare system (finally) pays long-term care notice

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It looks like long-term care is finally getting a seat at the table—the healthcare reform table, that is. That was apparent from the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s hearing today.

The hearing called specifically for including improvements to long-term care services and support as part of national health reform.

High-profile speakers included Thomas Hamilton from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, who talked about the Obama administration’s plans for improving the delivery of services for older adults and disabled people.

Judy Feder, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, gave testimony on some promising long-term care reform proposals and the feasibility of incorporating these into discussions of healthcare reform and Medicare and Medicaid legislation. She testified on behalf of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the center's nonprofit affiliate.

Also contributing to the discussion were representatives from various state initiatives. Karen Timberlake, secretary of Wisconsin’s Health and Human Services, for example, talked about the “Family Care” program, which uses Medicaid funding to finance a range of long-term care services.

As encouraging as this hearing is, it is not lost on long-term care providers that lawmakers could focus on home- and community-based services and wind up leaving nursing homes out of the discussion. That is a concern.

But getting a dialogue going is a start. At the very least it is proof that long-term care, which has felt like the neglected stepchild of the healthcare system, is finally getting some attention.

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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.