The New Commission on Long-Term Care Has an Opportunity to Improve the Lives of the Elderly and People with Disabilities
Last month, President Obama appointed the final members of the Commission on Long-Term Care. The purpose of this commission is to improve consumer choice and access to home- and community-based services (HCBS) for those who need long-term services and supports.
While nursing homes provide quality care for many people, low-income older adults and people with disabilities should have a choice about where and how they receive care. Unfortunately, Medicaid, the nation’s largest payer of long-term care services, continues to give preference to institutional care and nursing homes over home- and community-based care. With the creation of this new commission, we now have an important opportunity to change the way long-term care in Medicaid is paid for and delivered, which could improve the lives of millions of people who depend on these services.
- Every Medicaid program should be required to cover home- and community-based services.
- The ability to receive financial assistance should be the same for institutional and home- and community-based services.
- Spouses of people receiving Medicaid assistance for long-term care should be allowed to keep the same level of assets, regardless of whether the spouse needing care is living in a nursing home or in the community.
- Medicaid’s financial eligibility requirements must allow people to keep enough money to pay for food and housing to allow them to take advantage of home- and community-based services. Therefore, Medicaid’s financial eligibility requirements should be adjusted to reflect the added costs of living in the community.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should adequately fund activities to develop and enforce quality standards for home- and community-based services.
- Congress should prioritize home- and community-based services in the next reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA).
- Adequate and sustainable funding should be secured to develop and support Aging and Disability Resource Centers, which provide care coordination for those who need long-term services and supports.
These recommendations are critical steps toward improving choice and access for people who need long-term services and supports. It is vital that these services be offered in a way that does not limit people’s independence, choice, or connection with their community.