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 Long Term Care Commission Issues Recommendations To Congress

​The Washington, D.C., summer brought more than just heat and humidity to the nation’s capital. Some highly anticipated recommendations were also produced and ripened in just a few short months, amidst the renowned D.C. swelter: those of the federally appointed Commission on Long-Term Care.

Over a total of four meetings, between June 27 and August 20, the commission completed its work on a set of recommendations that covers the topics of service delivery, workforce, and finance.

In yesterday’s final vote, a majority of commissioners “on both sides of the political aisle,” according to a press release from the commission’s office on Capitol Hill, voted in favor of a package of recommendations for Congress’ consideration.

The commission’s suggestions, “which seek to renew a national discussion on addressing the issues and challenges that millions of Americans and their families face,” include potential financing frameworks “reflecting the diversity of opinions on the commission on how best to deliver and finance needed long-term services and supports,” the release said.

Outlined under each of the recommendation topics are additional details that flesh out further suggestions. One suggestion included a proposal to rebalance long-term services and supports by “building a system, including Medicaid, with options for people who would prefer to live in the community.”

Quality was also a key component of one recommendation, which called on “particular attention” to be paid to home- and community-based services.

Among the workforce recommendations was one that sought to ensure family caregivers' access to relevant information, while, not surprisingly, a Medicare recommendation proposed the elimination of the three-day hospital stay requirement for skilled nursing facility coverage.

“This is an issue that has been brewing for decades,” said Bruce Chernof, MD, the commission's chair, “and this heterogeneous group had less than 100 days to craft solutions. I am pleased that a majority of the commission has agreed on a number of thoughtful recommendations that serve as a launching pad for future action by Congress and the administration. I hope both the bipartisan nature of this report and the suite of ideas garnering broad agreement dispel the myth that our nation's long term care crisis is just too hard a problem to tackle.“

Serving on the commission was long term and post-acute care provider Neill Pruitt Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of UHS-Pruitt, Norcross, Ga., and chair of the Board of Governors of the American Health Care Association. “It was an honor to serve on the commission and play a small role in effectuating some structural, meaningful changes to the long-term health of these programs. Each of my colleagues brought a unique perspective to long term care's most challenging issues,” Pruitt said.

“Recognizing the current budget constraints do not allow for new expenditures, I am encouraged the commission recognized the potential savings of a site-neutral payment system to the Medicare program and the important role that the private market plays in the long term care delivery system," Pruitt said.

"Not only do these recommendations reflect a new way of thinking about post-acute care, but I also believe they will influence Congress in the months ahead. These are important steps in minimizing the confusion many older Americans experience with the Medicare benefit.”

The full report of the commission's recommendations will be released during its final hearing on Sept. 18 on Capitol Hill.

A summary of the commission’s recommendations can be found HERE

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