Dear Candidates: What about long-term services and supports?

Conversations with Katie | February 17, 2016

I admit, I can’t help it. I can’t help watching and reading endless hours of campaign rhetoric, waiting for someone - anyone - to talk about issues that are at the core of our mission.

I admit, I can’t help it. 

I can’t help watching and reading endless hours of campaign rhetoric, waiting for someone - anyone - to talk about issues that are at the core of our mission. 

In fact, there is precious little conversation about the critical issues facing a rapidly growing aging society on the debate stage or in small towns across the country. Right now there are about 50 million people aged 65 and over. In 40 years, that number will nearly double. 

Are we prepared for this rapid growth and the accompanying need for more services and supports for our elders? By all accounts, absolutely not. One issue is of particular concern: the nation’s current methods for financing long-term services and supports (LTSS) are unsustainable, irrational, and unfair for individuals and families. 

This week, we released our 2nd Pathways report, Perspectives on the Challenge of Financing LTSS. This follow-up to our 2013 report addresses results from recent research that LeadingAge funded, along with AARP and The SCAN Foundation, to better understand several alternative approaches to financing LTSS. 

This recent work tells us there are solutions and that LTSS is an insurable risk. Any solution must be guided by the  principles of: 

  • Rationality 
  • Equity 
  • Affordability 

We are committed to putting this topic on the priority list of policymakers in Washington, DC and alongside our state partners, in state capitals across the country. We will talk about possible solutions. We will engage the private sector. 

We know that an approach that covers catastrophic costs associated with LTSS needs is essential if we are to ease the strain on families and relieve the burden on an already stretched Medicaid program. We will advocate for initiatives, large and small, that offer all, inclusive of older people, working people with disabilities, families, paid and unpaid caregivers, employers, the middle class, and providers better ways to plan and pay for future LTSS needs, and ultimately, a fair and rational financing system.  

Later this month, I will take this report to Capitol Hill to talk with policy makers about the urgency of finding workable solutions so that everyone receives the quality services and supports they deserve without becoming impoverished in the process. 

With the upcoming elections at the local, state, and national levels, we have a unique opportunity to raise our voices to let all candidates know that as a nation, we are woefully under-prepared to care for the next generations of aging Americans. 

We must get politicians talking about the need to reform the way we currently finance LTSS. And then, we have to get them to act.  

With the support of our members and policymakers who believe in a brighter future for all Americans, we know we are on the right path and that we will get there. 

So, what other critical issues do you want our candidates and politicians to talk about?