Filed Under:Health Insurance, Ltci

LTC commission starts with a whisper

The panel is supposed to try to come up with recommendations by September. (AP photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The panel is supposed to try to come up with recommendations by September. (AP photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Federal Commission on Long-Term Care has hired G. Lawrence Atkins to be its first staff director and held its first meeting.

But the panel still does not have a mechanism for showing its meetings on the Web, or a website it can use to post written testimony from the meeting.

Members of Congress included a provision calling for the creation of the panel in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA), to soften the blow caused by another ATRA provision that officially repealed a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) provision that could have created a voluntary long-term care (LTC) benefits program.

Officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suspended efforts to set up the PPACA LTC program, the CLASS Act program, after reporting that they could not guarantee that the program would be actuarially sustainable.

The commission is supposed to report on any ideas it has for improving the U.S. LTC finance or delivery system by September.

Atkins, the commission's new staff director, worked in the 1980s on the staff of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. He now serves as president of the National Academy of Social Insurance.

Witnesses who spoke last week in Washington at the first LTC Commission meeting reported that the finances of the Medicaid nursing home benefits program and the Medicare programs that provide home health care services and other support services are weak.

Marc Cohen, a LifePlans consultant who has helped advised insurers in the private long-term care insurance (LTCI) market for years, told the commission that private LTCI is too expensive for many consumers, and that insurers have found the product to be difficult to write profitably.

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) has tried to give commission discussions some energy by developing five LTC reform principles.

The first principle is "promote availability of private long-term care financing options." The fourth is "preserve and improve the public long-term care benefit for low-income individuals."

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