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Why Gutting Health Care As Boomers Turn 80 Is A Really Bad Idea

By in Huffington Post on May 17, 2017

By Meredith Melnick

For decades, health care providers and policy wonks have known the time would come when aging baby boomers would need a lot more support than the generations that preceded them, including long-term services.

Now, just as the oldest boomers are moving into retirement, the House Obamacare replacement bill would strip away funding that nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home health agencies depend on to care for the most vulnerable seniors.

“What we’re talking about here is straight-up rationing care,” said Judith Feder, who studies health policy at the Urban Institute think tank.

Medicaid’s big role in elder care

Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and intensive home services are too expensive for most families to pay for out of pocket, and Medicare usually doesn’t cover them either.

So today Medicaid pays for more than half of long-term care costs in the U.S. Typically, an older person who needs help with basic activities like bathing and eating will spend all their money on care services, eventually becoming poor enough that Medicaid starts picking up the bills.

But if the Medicaid provisions in the House bill make it through the Senate and become law, it’s going to be harder to get those services paid for.

Starting in 2020, instead of providing state Medicaid programs with funding based on residents’ needs, the federal government would give them a fixed pot of money. That could take the form of a simple block grant that doesn’t adjust to population changes or a per capita allocation, which would base payments on the number of state residents who fall into particular categories, like poor children or disabled adults.

Payments would rise each year, but only at the inflation rate for medical care services. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that will be […]    

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