As the U.S. population ages in the coming decades, it will increase demand on long-term care services, and many questions remain about how to finance a viable system, according to a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center.
The Washington, D.C.-based think tank has created a new initiative to support and finance long-term care nationwide. The number of Americans requiring long-term care will more than double over the next 35 years, reaching 27 million by the year 2050, the report notes. Medicaid spending on long-term care will grow at a rate of 6 percent per year through the end of the decade, far faster than the current rate of spending growth in other facets of healthcare. Overall spending as a proportion of gross domestic product will reach 3 percent by 2050, up from the current 1.3 percent. And fewer than one-third of Americans have enough assets to cover a single year's stay in a nursing home, according to the report.
Several states now shift their Medicaid long-term care patients into managed care programs. And a recent Congressionally-authorized panel was unable to reach consensus on how to pay for long-term care services in the future.
"Nearly 70 percent of Americans who reach age 65 will, at some point, be unable to care for themselves without assistance," said Tom Daschle, a former U.S. Senator from South Dakota and one-time Senate majority leader, who is a co-founder of the Bipartisan Policy Center, in a statement. "Issues of long-term care also affect millions of younger people with significant cognitive or physical functional limitations. Yet long-term care gets neither the public attention nor the policy focus that it deserves."
The Bipartisan Policy Center will provide a set of proposals moving forward that would "weave together the approaches of publicly funded programs, such as Medicaid, with private insurance products to control costs, while also improving the efficiency and quality of LTSS [long-term services and supports]," according to the report.