The United States has no coordinated, national public-private system for delivering service and supports to people with chronic health care needs. The gap is the largest for people over 50 and people with disabilities.
Older Americans have a major stake in the success of comprehensive health care reform which offers a choice of providers, affordability, efficiency, effectiveness and which reduces disparities in health care with cost containment methods that are both equitable and sustainable.
Yesterday, The Leadership Council of Aging Organization(LCAO), a coalition of national nonprofits concerned with, and representing, the well-being of America's over 50 population, released its recommendations in advance of the coming debate on national health care. Its sixty members offer expertise and advocacy on many issues affecting the 87-million Americans 50 and over.
"Congress has an opportunity to improve the quality, affordability, and accessibility of health care for the fastest growing segment of our country. Out health care crises is a big reason why so many Americans worry that they will not be able to retire securely--even if they retire at all", said Edward Coyle, Chair of LCAO and Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.
Here are the highlights of those recommendations:
- Create a national public-plan option for an alternative to private health insurers.
- Allow early retirees aged 55 to 64 to buy into Medicare.
- Close gaps in Medicare coverage such as the "doughnut hole".
- Expand Medicare coverage of preventive care and disease management.
- Improve Medicares prescription drug plan by adding a national public plan that uses the government's bulk purchasing power to negotiate volume discounts from drug makers.
Expand Medicare coverage for low-income beneficiaries.
- Broaden eligibility for Medicaid.
- Create a national insurance program to help families afford long-term care.
- Expand the Older Americans Act to improve access to home and community-based services.
- Improve the quality of nursing home care by increasing transparency and accountability among nursing home owners and operators and expanding resident's rights.
- Increase training for workers who care for older adults.
The full recommendations are available at http://www.lcao.org/