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Reimagining Financing and Payment of Long-Term Care.
Werner RM, Konetzka RT. Reimagining Financing and Payment of Long-Term Care. Journal of The American Medical Directors Association. 2022 Feb 1; 23(2):220-224.
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed fundamental problems with the structure of long-term care financing and payment in the United States. The piecemeal system that exists suffers from several key problems, including underfunding, fragmentation across types and sites of care, and substantial variation in payment across states and populations. These problems result in inefficient allocation of resources, limited access to care, substandard quality, and inequities in both access and quality. We propose a new federal benefit for long-term care, most likely as part of the Medicare program. Essential features of this benefit include taxpayer subsidies, along the lines of other Medicare benefits, and coverage across the range of long-term care services, including both residential and home- and community-based care. A new federal benefit has the most potential to break down administrative barriers and improve resource allocation, to ensure adequate payment rates across all states, to expand access to care by spreading risk across the entire Medicare population, and to improve equity by extending coverage to all Medicare beneficiaries who want it. A new federal benefit is politically challenging, requiring bold action by Congress, and entails the risks of administrative challenges and unintended consequences. However, in this case, retaining the status quo remains the far greater risk.