Ranking Democratic member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Frank Pallone, Jr. of New Jersey recently introduced a new proposal aimed at tackling the rising costs of long term health care insurance to give seniors a better life. Under the current system, Medicare only covers very limited long-term care and support for seniors until a senior eventually qualifies for the Medicaid program after they have depleted all of their financial resources.
If adopted, the The Medicare Long-Term Care Services and Supports Act would enact multiple measures to help seniors get the care they need without depleting their finances. Among other things, The Act would includes incentives for people to seek care at home and give much needed relief to overburdened family caregivers by compensating these individuals for lost income other retirement benefits, and career opportunities if they have to cut back on work hours or leave the workforce.
The Act would establish a standard cash benefit within Medicare for anyone who is eligible for Medicare and those under the age of 65-years old who meet certain disability thresholds and begin after a two-year waiting period that functions as a deductible. The proposed legislation would allow individuals to use their self-directed benefits towards all long-term services and supports, including nursing facility care, adult daycare programs, home health aide services, personal care services, transportation, and assistance provided by a family caregiver.
“The growing need for long-term care is one of the greatest threats to retirement security for American seniors, and the adult children who care for them,” said Pallone. “It’s time to expand Medicare to include a long-term care benefit so that millions of seniors and individuals with disabilities no longer have to face financial ruin before they get assistance. I’m hoping that this proposal will begin an important discussion, and look forward to getting feedback from interested stakeholders.”
More than 70 percent of elders over the age of 65 will end up needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their lifetime. With the number of Americans over the age of 65 expected to grow to 90 million by 2055, long-term care expenses are predicted to double as a share of the economy over the next 30 years. Furthermore, disabled Americans under the age of 65 and their family members struggle themselves to provide the daily care necessary to fulfill basic daily needs to live comfortable, dignified lives.