Back in February of 2013, “The New Old Age” blog of The New York Times published an article called, “A New Commission: Time to Cheer or Yawn?” It referred to the Long-Term Care Commission, created by Congress, as part of the fiasco of eliminating the Class Act from what is now pretty universally called Obamacare. The Class Act had been a first step toward getting long-term care insurance in place for Americans, something many of us would say is as important as health care reform, given that medical insurance still does not cover the care many, many elders need to be safe and well as they age at home.
The question Paula Span asked in “The New Old Age” post was the same one many of us in elder care were asking at the time. Is this meaningful, or is this just another way to create a report that will be covered with electronic dust in the archives? The answer is not yet entirely clear, but I have to say I have my jaws clenched to prevent a yawn from starting.
Am I wrong to be skeptical? Let’s take one anecdotal fact. You can find just about anything on Wikipedia, right? When I do a search there for “long-term care commission,” I get 5,808 results. I can find an entry on “Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada,” but I cannot find an item that really relates to the one created by Congress [full disclosure: I did not read all 5,808 articles 🙂 ].
Do you want another fact? In January, Congress told the Commission to report back in six months – which should be next month, but the Commission has not even met, as of mid-June. Now they are supposed to report back in the fall of 2013, but some members (only now is the membership supposedly full) are pushing back, asking for 18 months to report. I am at a point where I say we give them 18 years, as long as we are not paying expenses or honoraria to any of them or any supporting staff. The results will be the same.
There are no mysteries about the needs for long-term care inclusion in health care reform. There are no mysteries about the fact that paying for such care would actually reduce the costs of traditional, clinical health care. There are no mysteries, either, about the fact that Congress – and the Executive Branch, as well – have no intention of actually doing anything about the problem. It is up to us in the elder care / long-term care industry to keep on keeping on, as best we can.
Yours in frustration, Bert