Who'll pay for long-term care? Some answers that are worth the wait

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John O'Connor
John O'Connor

By the time one of the most important sessions at last week's LeadingAge conference rolled around, many of the nearly 9,000 attendees had already left the building.

Which was too bad because the Tuesday afternoon session on future long-term care financing was more than worth the wait.

Fortunately, my colleague Lois Bowers had the good sense to stick around. She also did an excellent job of reporting on the proceedings.

It's almost impossible to underestimate how critical future payments will be. One way or another, this issue is going to affect every person who makes a living in this sector — plus the millions more who will actually be receiving care and services.

As outgoing LeadingAge President and CEO Larry Minnix noted, covering the tab will not be easy.

“We are totally unprepared for what's facing us, and most of the public thinks that Medicare or Medicaid — and sometimes they don't know the difference — is paying for all of that, and they're not,” Minnix explained.

Presenters offered hints about the latest findings of its Pathways project, a $1.3 million effort of which results formally will be revealed next week. As they noted, a combination of private and public solutions will be required — both for fiscal and political reasons.

It's encouraging to see organizations like LeadingAge taking proactive action and working on possible funding solutions. The reality is that many more people will need care than can pay for it.

And in a field chock full of challenges, solving that riddle may prove to be the biggest of them all.

John O'Connor is McKnight's Editorial Director.


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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.