Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Candidates’ Silence on Long-Term Care

A guest commentary by Kathryn Roberts, Ph.D., president and chief executive of Ecumen, one of the country’s largest nonprofit senior housing and services companies, based in Minneapolis. She also is a member of the board of directors of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, an association of nonprofit service providers. — Jane Gross

My generation put day care in workplaces, gave rise to pediatricians and drove minivans and hybrids to market. Could transforming how we pay for aging be the baby boomers’ next big act?
Today about 10 million Americans need long-term care; 12 million will need it in 2020.
Should our primary option be a Cold War-era nursing home for which we largely pay with personal bankruptcy? No. I believe most Americans desire living fully — and differently — to the very end of life.
Unfortunately, as the unprecedented age wave rises, America sits in a costly time warp. We’re flying a 1965 aircraft — the Great Society programs of Medicare and Medicaid — absent an overhauled engine. While other countries have coordinated home- and community-based services for young and old with physical challenges, our outdated way unnecessarily, and expensively, institutionalizes people.

Norman DeLisle, MDRC
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