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House GOP Review for 02/28/2008
Posted By Tennessee Republicans On Friday, February 29, 2008 @ 6:00 am In Politics | No Comments
The House GOP Review is a weekly feature that gives Tennesseans an in-depth look at what our Republian state legislators have been working on this week, and a glimpse into what’s planned for the coming week at our state house.
Lawmakers from the Senate and the House held a press conference this week to promote key healthcare proposals aimed at helping elderly and disabled Tennesseans receive more options in their healthcare, including staying in their homes for as long as possible.
The long term care legislation is part of a series of bills aiming to help citizens “age in place.” One bill, which has already passed the Senate health committee, calls for a pilot program that allows individual patients to choose from specific services that fit their needs and also allows them to choose who performs the tasks. Consumers would receive a monthly budget based on their needs, and could use the money to hire personal assistants, make home modifications, and more. Legislators stressed the importance of the legislation, saying that Tennessee should give its seniors more options with regards to home and community based care, noting that whereas some citizens need the 24 hour attention a nursing home can give them, others simply need an assistant to come to their home a few times a week to give them a bath, assist with medication, or perform other household tasks.
Arkansas, Florida, and New Jersey were the pioneers of this self-directed health care concept. Since that time, 12 other states have expanded their choices. In Arkansas, there was a 40% reduction in nursing home admissions in the second year of the program, and the total Medicaid cost per person under the self-directed care plan was about he same as that for the traditional agency model. Studies show that, by every measure, self-directed care is succeeding and that consumers with this option are reporting greater satisfaction, better quality of life, and fewer unmet needs.A second proposal would encourage personal responsibility by rewarding those who purchase long term care insurance. Currently, to receive state dollars for long term care, participants are required to “spend down” their assets—sometimes having to dispose of family heirlooms, land, or other things that have sentimental value. The legislation would allow seniors to retain those assets, dollar for dollar matched with the private long term care insurance purchased.
Several other states have enacted similar laws, with more considering enacting them this year. The main crux of the bill, asset protection, is a key component of the program. For every one dollar of private long term care insurance paid, one dollar of personal assets would be protected should the policyholder ever need to apply for Medicaid services. For example, if someone had a $100,000 long term care policy, once those policy benefits have been exhausted the program would protect $100,000 worth of assets and still offer Medicaid benefits.
Tennessee spent approximately $1.1 billion on long term care last year. Out of the 22,000 seniors on Medicaid in Tennessee, only a few thousand receive home and community based care services. 98% of all monies spent on long term care are spent on nursing home care.
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