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Posted by on Mar 12, 2012 in Legislation Affecting Seniors, Long-term Care, Senior Health | 0 comments

How are the Presidential Candidates faring on long-term care issues?

 Observers of senior issues are noticing a lack of discussion in this year’s run-up to the Presidential election regarding long-term care.  According to a recent Forbes article by Howard Gleckman, “Long-term care services are not on the front burner of the Presidential campaign. They are not on the back burner. They are, it seems, not even on the stove.”

Considering the vast numbers of individuals who will likely enter long-term care facilities in the near future, the candidate’s silence on the topic is disappointing to some, and alarming to others.  Fifteen national advocacy groups surveyed the five candidates on their long-term care platform, and only President Obama and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich responded.  Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul did not answer the survey.

According to Forbes, President Obama showed little interest in the 2008 election in long-term care support and not much has changed since then.  “He merely recited past efforts aimed at supporting home and community based care, workforce training, and caregivers. He noted the failure of the CLASS Act but offered no new alternatives. He did not say that his most recent budget would freeze or cut funding for many critical supports for the elderly and younger people with disabilities.”

Speaker Gingrich did speak to his interest in long-term care issues, calling for the repeal of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the turning of Medicare from a guaranteed federal benefit into a defined contribution program, and replacing the existing Medicaid system with a federal block grant. 

However, Forbes noted that Gingrich’s platform was somewhat contradictory as he said consumers should be able to use tax-advantaged Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Savings Accounts to buy long-term care insurance, yet he has also proposed a flat income tax system that would seem to effectively end HSAs and FSAs.  Still, he largely promotes “new models of care” that will focus on primary medical care and home care, and embraced the use of new assistive devices (though no comment on how consumers would pay for them).

In addition, Forbes noted that Gingrich said Medicare should cover training for family caregivers, a “very interesting idea through it is not clear how such a mandate would be implemented once Gingrich shifts Medicare to a largely private insurance model.”

With so many Babyboomers, a group of consistent voters, set to retire and thinking about long-term needs, how do you think the candidates are faring on these issues?  What long-term care question would you ask of a candidate?   

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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