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Statement From Larry Minnix, President & CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, on the Senate Finance Committee Hearing 'The Role of Long-term Care in Health Reform' and the Reintroduction of the CLASS Act
Date:3/25/2009

WASHINGTON, March 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Today was a monumental day on Capitol Hill for the millions of Americans who need and provide long-term services and supports.

We commend the Senate Finance Committee for examining the role of long-term services and supports in this year's health care reform. Long-term services and supports are often ignored, despite their central role in America's health care crisis. The needs are great. The costs are high. Insurance coverage is nearly non-existent. The structure of our current system makes caring for seniors and disabled adults fragmented, expensive and difficult. Every segment of our population is affected: individuals, families, employers, government programs, the medical profession and the economy. It is simply unaffordable to care.

We also applaud Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Representatives Frank Pallone (D-N.J) and John Dingell (D-Mich.) for introducing the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act of 2009. The CLASS Act calls for the creation of a publicly-driven financing plan whose premiums provide cash benefits to pay for long-term services. It is a plan built on principles that support America's families and have the potential for significant Medicaid savings. These principles have been adopted by the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) which includes more than 150 organizations representing over 100 million seniors, people with disabilities, and providers of health, housing and supportive services. Their members include organizations like AARP, SEIU and Easter Seals.

These principles include:

  1. National Problem, National Solution - Recognize that although states, communities, families, and individuals have important roles to play, financing for long-term services and supports is a national problem that requires a national solution.
  2. Universality with Limited Opt-Out - Create a public program that allows all people, including individuals with disabilities and those near retirement, the opportunity to contribute to and prepare for the costs of long-term services and supports. Make participation as convenient as possible but give people the limited choice to opt out.
  3. Public/Private Partnership - Provide a strong foundation of protection while providing opportunities for personal planning that include a role for private sector options.
  4. Affordability and Risk Pooling - Provide for broad pooling of risk and appropriate low-income subsidies to make premiums affordable enough so that all people, regardless of income and health status, can participate. Ensure that a new program does not force people to impoverish themselves to qualify.
  5. Fiscal Responsibility - Provide actuarially sound funding, such as through voluntary premiums that build reserves over time sufficient to pay for future needs in a way that is affordable to individuals and to society as a whole.
  6. Relieve Pressure on Medicaid - Provide additional long-term services and supports funding mechanisms that will help take the pressure off of future Medicaid expenditures, while preserving the guaranteed safety net.
  7. Consumer Choice and Control - Promote independence and dignity across the broad continuum of services and supports by ensuring beneficiaries the right to control and choose what services they receive, how and where they are delivered and who provides them.
  8. Support Family Caregivers - Recognize and support the central role families and other informal caregivers play in planning for and providing long-term services and supports, including developing strategies to support working caregivers to maintain their financial security.
  9. Invest in Quality Care and Quality of Life - Target additional funding to ensure sufficient training and compensation for the workforce and to strengthen oversight, enforcement, and advocacy programs that improve quality of life and quality of care in all settings.

AAHSA and its members look forward to working with Congress and the Administration on a comprehensive and badly-needed reform of our entire health care system that will address long-term services and supports and make it affordable to care."

About AAHSA

The members of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (www.aahsa.org) help millions of individuals and their families every day through mission-driven, not-for-profit organizations dedicated to providing the services that people need, when they need them, in the place they call home. Our 5,700 member organizations, many of which have served their communities for generations, offer the continuum of aging services: adult day services, home health, community services, senior housing, assisted living residences, continuing care retirement communities and nursing homes. AAHSA's commitment is to create the future of aging services through quality people can trust.


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SOURCE American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
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