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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 impoverished. Such protections currently apply to spouses of Medicaid nursing home residents, but not to HCBS recipients. Another important provision would reduce current barriers that make it difficult for states to provide HCBS under flexible state plan amendments.

"By providing new options for frail seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their homes and communities," said Bedlin, "the Senate bill takes an important step toward enabling millions of Americans to maintain their independence, dignity, and choice in the face of daunting health-related challenges."

About NCOA

The National Council on Aging is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCOA is a national voice for older Americans--especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged--and the community organizations that serve them. It brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities. For more information, visit www.ncoa.org.

SOURCE National Council on the Aging, Inc.


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SOURCE National Council on the Aging, Inc.
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