The second was tucked away into Section 643 of the Act. It establishes a new 15-member Commission on Long Term Care, replacing the CLASS Act provisions of the Affordable Care Act that are now finally, formally repealed by ATRA.
The Commission could turn out to be a very big deal if it does it job well, because it could lead the way in changing our system of providing and financing long-term care in America.
The Commission is charged with writing a bill over the next six months "to establish a plan for the establishment, implementation, and financing of a comprehensive, coordinated, and high-quality" long term care system for elders, people with cognitive impairments, people needing help performing activities of daily living, and all "individuals desiring to plan for future long term care needs."
The Commission will focus on three things:
- the interaction and coordination of new services with Medicare, Medicaid, and private long term care insurance;
- improvements to Medicare, Medicaid, and private long term care insurance needed to ensure availability of long term supports and services; and
- long term care service workforce needs.
If the Commission completes its work on time, it could mean the introduction of new long term care legislation as early as the fall of 2013.
What could this legislation mean for us?
It could be the first step on our nation's long and necessary path to bring long term care costs under control, and make long term care services available to individuals without first impoverishing and exhausting them or their families.
It could also help states bring Medicaid costs under control, and the federal government better manage Medicare costs, too. Long term care costs are the real culprits in rising Medicaid costs for state budgets and state taxpayers.
Let's keep our eyes open, and hope for two things. First, that this new Commission does a better job fixing our nation's long term care problem than our broken Congress has done with the Fiscal Cliff. And second, that if it does bring some recommendations forward, Congress listens.
This column is an Our Health Policy Matters extra. Read on below for this week's regular column. Follow Paul Gionfriddo on Twitter @pgionfriddo.