Thursday, February 25, 2010

AARP covers long term care and Medicaid issues with big article; push for CLASS Act, community care

The AARP Magazine, for March/April 2010, has a major story by Mary A. Fischer, “Love is (not) all you need; to provide for loved ones who need long-term care, too many older Americans are resorting to extreme measures; it doesn’t have to be that way”, link here.

The article surveys the difficulties many families face with long-term care, discusses the federal Medicaid lookback rules (for passing on assets), and goes into some concepts in the process, such as “community spouse” and “spousal refusal.” With some couples, the legal situation encourages divorce so that the ill spouse is legally impoverished and qualifies for Medicaid. But in some cases the “community spouse” (the well one) can keep half the savings after spend down.

The article argues that Medicaid should focus more on assisting with in-home care or community care and less with nursing homes (for custodial care), institutions could eventually become saturated.

The article goes into the attempts in four states – Florida, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Connecticut, to provide funding to help people stay in their homes as long as possible.

The story gives the details for some families, and stresses that extreme disability occurs in some families at relatively early ages.

The article gives as a source the National Council on Aging, link.

The article also discusses the proposed Community Living Services and Assistance Supports Act of 2009, the CLASS Act, link here.

The 2009 bill is HR 1721 introduced by Frank Pallone, D-NJ, with govtrack reference here.

The article did not go into filial responsibility laws, or “poor laws”, on the books in about 28 states. But some countries, including Germany and Japan, apparently provide much more support for eldercare than does the U.S.

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