A coalition of long-term care groups last week unveiled a proposal to create a catastrophic long-term care program for U.S. residents ages 65 and older that would encourage individuals to save for their health care needs and reduce the financial burden on state and federal budgets to provide such benefits, CQ HealthBeat reports. The proposal was introduced by the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, the National Center for Assisted Living and the American Health Care Association.

The plan, which would be phased in over 10 years, would be intended for Medicare-eligible individuals who have purchased at least $100,000 in long-term health care coverage in 2007 dollars, either through insurance policies or health savings accounts. According to CQ HealthBeat, that amount could be adjusted based on a sliding scale, and low-income individuals would be exempt from the requirement.

Under the proposal, individuals eligible for the catastrophic federal assistance would receive money to pay for community-based health care programs, or skilled nursing facility or assisted living facility services. Individuals also could enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that provides long-term care coverage. States' share of Medicaid funding for long-term care would shift to the federal government, according to the proposal. In addition, the proposal calls for a post-acute care patient assessment tool developed by HHS that would do a better job of matching medical services to a patient's individual needs, with equal rates of federal reimbursement, CQ HealthBeat reports (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 1/18).

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