Most people do not want to think or talk about how to pay for senior care until the issue of needing a caregiver to assist with daily needs actually arrives. Hire a senior home care agency or move to assisted living? Recover in a nursing home or in your own home with skilled care provided by Medicare?
And what if you run out of money to pay for care yourself, do not have long-term care insurance and still need care services? The good news is you can qualify for care as a Medicaid resident in a nursing home. However, the number one factor in quality care is the staff to resident ratio in a nursing home. This is why the Coalition to Protect Senior Care, representing dozens of healthcare groups throughout the country, is advocating for retaining Medicaid and Medicare funding for nursing homes at current levels and asking our government to consider the possibility of additional job creation through the funding of more frontline caregivers who provide the bedside care for nursing home residents.
Some politicians are rightly concerned about the ongoing ability to fund senior entitlement programs. But at the same time, all of us continue to fund these programs through our payroll deductions. Former President Bill Clinton has been credited with passing the "look back law" which prohibits seniors from gifting their entire estates in order to avoid paying for long-term care. Now the government can actually look back to see if any improper gifting has been done to allow a senior to have the government foot the bill for their long-term care. However, regardless of whether the government or individuals are paying for the nursing care, adequate levels of caregiver staffing should be maintained.
Caregiverlist reports that nursing home staffing shortages contribute to lower quality care in nursing homes. As Medicare does pay for short-term care in a nursing home, many of us will need to rely on their services, even if just for a few weeks after a hospital stay.
What can you do? Call you Congressman and Senator's office and let them know your concerns. Let them know that staffing in nursing homes should be a priority.
You can also visit President Barack Obama's website and let him know your thoughts as Congress begins discussing healthcare reform legislation on Tuesday.