McClellan on LTC: "Status quo is not sustainable"

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A new focus on long-term care is essential to the welfare of the aging population, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said this week.

Because of the stress on Medicaid, "the status quo is not sustainable," Mark McClellan said at a meeting with health policy experts. Medicaid, which pays for a majority of nursing home costs, has to support a growing elderly population.

"Change needs to happen now to meet the needs of a population that wants to remain as active as possible as long as possible," said McClellan who made his comments in preparation for the 2005 White House Conference on Aging, which is scheduled to take place in October.

CMS is working to improve "coordinated care" programs, McClellan said. He also stressed Congress should removed a Medicaid "institutional bias" that allows Medicaid to pay for nursing home care but not community-based care.