The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging held a recent hearing to explore how to balance the long term care needs of Americans with the country’s need to reduce debt and deficits.

In his opening statement, Committee Chair Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) said in an era of debt reduction, a rapidly aging population, and Medicare and Medicaid paying for the bulk of long term care, how could these programs become more efficient?

“As we look ahead, we’re going to have to do more with less,” he said, pointing to improving the efficiency of the government programs through reducing unnecessary hospitalizations, delaying or avoiding the use of institutional long term care services, and expanding home- and community-based services.

In a written statement submitted to the committee, the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) explained that a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed rule has the potential to significantly increase long term care costs by eliminating assisted living providers from state Medicaid waiver programs. NCAL explained that the proposed rule’s impact “would significantly reduce long term care options for Medicaid beneficiaries, while potentially raising the cost of providing Medicaid coverage for the federal and state governments.”

Panelists also discussed encouraging the purchase of long term care insurance.