Opinion Piece Calls for Full Federal Coverage of Long-Term Care

Medicaid "has become a lifeline for millions of people who require nursing home care," and "simply cutting the program won't work," two professors write in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece that has been widely reprinted around the nation.

Jacob Hacker, a professor of political science at Yale University, and Harold Pollack, faculty chair of the University of Chicago's Center for Health Administration Studies, write that the real problem with Medicaid "isn't well-off senior citizens gaming the system" but rather that "few Americans have reliable and effective private alternatives that can protect them if they require long-term care."

The authors say that long-term care insurance, touted as an alternative to Medicaid, "will never work for millions of Americans." Insurers themselves cannot reliably price such insurance due to uncertainties about the future costs of care, they contend.

Rather than pursuing the home equity of widows with Alzheimer's disease, "the federal government should pay for long-term care through Medicare, openly, for every American," Hacker and Pollack say. Doing so would give the elderly and disabled through the front door what they are now gaining through the backdoor under Medicaid, and would "protect everyone from one of life's most frightening risks."

To read the full Los Angeles Times article, "Health cuts are the real 'death tax'," click here.