Missing from the Presidential Debate: Long-Term Care
Two Candidates Respond to National Survey but Many Remain Silent on How to Support Older Adults and Individuals with Disabilities Who Need Care at Home.
Washington, D.C. 2/27/2012 05:07 AM GMT (WooEB)
Every day, over 10 million frail seniors, younger people with disabilities, and their families struggle to find and pay for long-term care to stay independent and remain at home, and the need for care is expected to grow to over 15 million Americans by 2020.
Yet, the issue of long-term care has been completely absent from this year’s presidential campaign. No questions have been asked during the debates. The candidates have not posted any views or positions on their websites, and only two candidates have responded to a national survey on their views to address this growing national challenge.
Long-term care helps older adults and individuals with disabilities manage everyday activities, such as dressing, bathing, using the bathroom, preparing meals, and taking medication.
While these home care services are cost-effective and help people stay independent and out of expensive nursing homes, they are not covered by traditional health insurance. Medicare does not cover them, and only 3% of adults have private long-term care insurance.
Medicaid offers some coverage for long term care, but individuals must spend-down and impoverish themselves to qualify - often exhausting a lifetime of savings. Waiting lists also have doubled over the past decade, with some states cutting home and community-based services to trim budgets.
As a result, over 90% of all long-term services provided today are delivered informally by more than 42.1 million family members. These caregivers often face enormous burdens, adversely affecting their health, ability to work, and financial security.
To help raise this critical issue among the presidential candidates, 15 national aging and disability organizations, including the National Council on Aging (NCOA), invited each candidate to answer five questions about their views on long-term care. The questionnaire was distributed in November to all major candidates for President, regardless of political party affiliation.
So far, only two presidential candidates-Barack Obama and Newt Gingrich-have responded to the questionnaire. The five questions and responses received to date are available at http://www.ncoa.org/LTSSsurvey.
“The number of Americans needing long-term care is expected to double in the coming decade as the population ages,” said James Firman, NCOA president & CEO. “Clearly, this is an issue that cannot be ignored. Voters deserve to hear the candidates engage in a dialogue about an issue so central to the future of our country and the lives of millions of individuals and families.”
The National Council on Aging is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCOA’s mission is to improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. NCOA is a national voice for older Americans and the community organizations that serve them. It brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities.
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