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NCOA, Bedlin Brief Leading Aging Organizations on Health Care Reform, Needed Long-Term Care Provisions
Date:11/30/2009

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At a briefing of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) today, Howard Bedlin, Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy for NCOA, called on Congress to ensure that health care reform legislation responds to the growing crisis in long-term care for older Americans and their families.

"Millions of seniors, after working hard all their lives, are being forced to bankrupt themselves before receiving help," said Bedlin. "Our most frail, vulnerable citizens are entering nursing homes prematurely because home and community options are not available. Overburdened caregivers are sacrificing their mental, physical, and economic health."

Supporting provisions to address these challenges is not only needed, but also good politics, he said. A poll done by the Lake Research Group for the SCAN Foundation in June 2009 found that eight in 10 people say they would be more likely to support a health reform proposal that includes improved coverage for home and community-based long-term care services.

At the briefing, Bedlin noted that despite the strong preference to stay at home, there is still a significant bias against these services in Medicaid as 73% of long-term care spending now goes toward nursing home and other institutional care. Medicaid dollars spent on home and community-based services (HCBS), he said, can support nearly three people in need for every person in a nursing home and will slow the rate of Medicaid spending on long-term care.

Provisions to address these concerns are included in the Senate health reform bill now being debated and are strongly supported by organizations representing seniors and people with disabilities. In addition to the CLASS and Community First Choice proposals, the Senate bill includes a provision to protect spouses of Medicaid HCBS recipients from becoming impo
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SOURCE National Council on the Aging, Inc.
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