Consumers of health care in old age likely consider nursing home care to be part of the continuum of health care that a patient may require. Yet health insurance plans do not pay for nursing home care because it isn’t defined as “treatment.” Instead, it is classified as long-term care rather than “health care,” because the care is maintaining the individual and not really treating-to-improve a chronic or permanent health condition.
The 2017 Long-Term Care trends poll of the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Survey revealed that more than half of those polled believe that Medicare and health insurance companies should cover some or all of these costs and that the federal government should be doing more to provide financial support to those who are providing the care in the home setting. This was the survey’s finding among those who identified as Republican as well as those who identified as Democrat.
A bill to start addressing an aspect of this issue was introduced in Congress by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-UT, and is S-870.— “Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017.” So far, the bill has been approved/passed by the full Senate. The Act is designed to give some Medicare providers additional flexibility in the way they care for people with chronic conditions. This could be a first step toward including chronic, non-improving conditions in the category of “health conditions” for which Medicare dollars could be applied. Co-sponsors include Ron Wyden (D-OR), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and John Warner (D-VA). Read the legislation.
If this issue is of interest to you, contact your Representatives.
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