Advocating for better long-term care is not just a concern of NY elder law attorneys. Policymakers at all levels and of all political persuasions are also keenly aware of the impact that the growing need for long-term care will have on communities nationwide.
There are few challenges more acute than figuring out how to ensure adequate senior care for all community members. As most know, we are on the cusp of a “gray wave” with demographics changes requiring an increased commitment to skilled care and assistance for seniors. The need extends to all facets of elder care, from ensuring there are enough physical spaces for those in need to coming up with ways to pay for the care.
Federal LTC Commission
One federal response to the problem was included in a law passed at the beginning of this year. As part of the “fiscal cliff” compromise, the American Taxpayer Relief Act was passed on January 2nd. Buried in one section of the law was a call to create a federal Commission on Long-term Care. The Commission’s goals were varied, but, in short, they were charged with drafting proposals for Congress to ensuring adequate and efficient senior care nationwide.
The Commission is made up of 15 members from all corners of the industry. They were chosen by the President and leaders of each party from both houses of Congress. The members include long-term care consultants, state aging agency representatives, elder care advocates, union worker representatives, industry owners, operators, and more.
Starting in June the Commission began holding a series of public hearings. The meetings each included testimony from various actors on different aspects of long-term care. For example, the first hearing included discussion on the role that federal budget decisions have on this care, while the most recent (in late August) dealt with the critical role played by direct-care workers.
After the final public hearing, the Commission met privately. They are now drafting their official report to be submitted to Congress. The report will likely include a summary of the current state of care nationwide and policy recommendations for improvement. The group must complete its work by the end of September, and so the report will likely be released in coming weeks.
The country faces serious long-term care challenges that will only grow in the coming years. Hopefully this commission report is a good launching pad for real changes that improve the options for individuals. Regardless of the Commission’s actions, however, it remains critical for all New York families to take matters into their own hands, and create an individual long-term care plan.