Media Contact: Lisa Sanders

lsanders@leadingage.org / 347-385-2218

Washington D.C., May 2, 2018 -- For almost 15 years, LeadingAge has been at the forefront of the effort to identify and implement a new program to help families pay for long-term services and supports (LTSS) that help older adults and people with disabilities continue to live vibrant lives while needing assistance with everyday activities.

Today, Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) unveiled a new solution at a roundtable discussion in his home state of New Jersey that would create a strong federal program within Medicare that will support those with substantial long-term care costs when they need care. Invited to participate in the discussion was LeadingAge member and LeadingAge New Jersey board member, Doug Stuyk, Christian Health Care Center President and CEO.

“We firmly believe that the nation’s current methods for financing LTSS are unsustainable, irrational, and unfair for individuals and families,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge. “It is estimated that about half of all older adults will lose the ability to care for themselves during their lifetimes, and will need help with everyday activities. We commend Representative Pallone for proposing a new Medicare long-term care benefit that addresses this critical issue.”

Today, the average out-of-pocket cost of this care is $140,000 over the course of an individual’s lifetime. In 2014, formal out-of-pocket expenses accounted for over $53 billion, and nearly 17% of working adults provide unpaid care for family members or friends.

Rep. Pallone’s proposal includes:

  • A standard cash benefit within Medicare for anyone who is eligible for Medicare and those under the age of 65 who meet certain disability thresholds.
  • A self-directed benefit that could be used towards all LTSS, including nursing home care, adult day programs, home health aide services, personal care services, transportation, and assistance provided by a family caregiver.
  • Incentives for people to seek care at home, the setting where most people want to be, and with family support, while also being available for nursing homes.
  • Relief for overburdened caregivers.

“Every day, LeadingAge members witness the devastating effects that our nation’s dysfunctional LTSS financing system has on older adults and their families,” continued Sloan. “LeadingAge pledges to continue serving as an instigator and protagonist for an improved approach to LTSS financing. And we commit to working with Rep. Pallone and others who are focused on solving this problem. LeadingAge believes America needs a fairer and more rational financing system to ensure access to quality LTSS and to reduce the burden on caregivers.”