Patching holes won’t fix a bad road… and it won’t fix our healthcare system either.

By Steve Moran

This past weekend Hillary Clinton added a $1,200 tax credit to her quiver of reasons to vote for her.  

The basic idea is that when families or individuals care for older relatives, and have spent out-of-pocket $6,000 they would be eligible for a $1,200 tax credit.  

On Monday LeadingAge issued a statement about Hilary’s proposal that read in part . . . 

“This is a critical issue that isn’t going away: the rising costs of care for an aging population that is living longer and that wants to stay in their own homes,” said LeadingAge President and CEO Larry  Minnix. “In fact, this is an issue that all presidential candidates should be talking about because we now know that there are real solutions for changing the way we finance long-term care.”

Options for long-term care financing today are very limited. Costly private long-term care insurance is only affordable for a very small percentage of the population. As a result, families pay out of pocket to cover the costs of helping an elderly relative with everyday activities such as eating, bathing, and dressing. Many use their own savings to cover these costs and still others miss work or leave the workforce entirely. Caregiving can have serious repercussions and disproportionately affects women.

“It’s unacceptable,” continued Minnix “that hard working, tax-paying citizens suffer financially, physically, and emotionally because we haven’t yet figured out how to ease the burden on caregivers and empower people to plan and pay for their care as they age. Tomorrow is too late. We must figure this out today.”

You can access the full press release HERE.

Is This Really The Right Direction?

The problem with this proposal is that while it might make for good politics, it will not make a substantial dent in a very real problem. Our current healthcare and eldercare system is a mess. It is expensive and inefficient.  

It provides great care and services to a few of the poorest, who happened to be in the right place at the right time to get the right limited housing and services. It makes life almost impossible for individuals who worked hard, and saved as much as they could, precluding benefits given to the poorest of the poor and at the same time leaves them with not enough resources to pay for state of the art, independent living and assisted living.

It is a system that pushes people who need independent living and assisted living into nursing homes, because that is all there is.  

This proposal will put a little money into a few pockets, it will add one more complexity to what is already a hopelessly complex system. It will add to the debt of this country that is being passed on to our children and grandchildren.

Don’t Get Me Wrong

Don’t get me wrong, we have many many elderly who need our help and the government is the natural vehicle to distribute that help. We are in a place today where we need to . . . LeadingAge, Argentum, AHCA/NCAL, ASHA and NIC . . . all need to join forces and push for a massive overhaul that will not break the bank and will make sure seniors get the right care in the right setting. This will be good for seniors, it will be good for senior living, it will be good for the healthcare system and it will protect the bank accounts of our children and grandchildren.   

Final Note

I have had some conversations with LeadingAge about their press release and the broader challenge of caring for seniors in the United States. In the next month or so they will be issuing their next iteration of the Pathways report that will provide their recommendations for next steps based on the Urban and Milliman modeling work.