You may remember that on New Year’s Day of this year, a large piece of legislation was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. The bill was the one that (temporarily) avoided the fiscal cliff. It was the measure that seemed to permanently set the estate tax rates among other things.
At the same time, the legislation also called for the creation of a Long-Term Care Commission. Comprised of 15 members, selected by both Republican and Democratic leaders, the group was given six months to hold hearings, debate, discuss, and create a report on various issues regarding long-term care nationwide. More specifically, the entity’s specific charge was to “develop recommendations for the establishment, implementation, and financing of a comprehensive, coordinated, and high-quality system that ensures the availability of long-term services and supports for individuals who depend on this system to live full and healthy lives.”
Last week the Commission officially ended its work and published its final report. You can view a full copy of that report in .pdf form here.
What does it say?
The report summarizes the challenges looming for policymakers as Baby Boomers age. Many familiar ideas are discussed, including the importance of at-home caregivers and the need for proper financial arrangements to pay for the care that will be needed.
In analyzing the report, the nation’s largest senior advocacy groups were somewhat guarded. For example, the AARP noted that “the Commission’s recommendations would move us in the right direction toward a more person- and family-centered long-term services and supports system. Regrettably, agreements on comprehensive long-term care financing could not be reached in the short time the Commission had to do its work, but AARP remains committed to seeking solutions to this critical issue. AARP at both the state and federal level also remains dedicated to re-balancing Medicaid services.”
In short, this report may be helpful in shaping the general issues and advocating for some changes which can improve the long-term outlook on this issue. However, observers concede that major issues related to financing were noticeably absent. This is yet another reminder of the need for individuals to do everything in their power to make financial arrangement for long-term care privately. Ideally, this would take the form of long-term care insurance built into an overall, comprehensive estate plan.