Supporting Our Seniors Act Seeks to Improve Long-Term Care Access

The United States Capitol building.The Supporting Our Seniors Act (S. 4862), bipartisan legislation recently introduced by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and John Boozman (R-AR), seeks to address the need for access to long-term care for America’s aging population. The bill proposes creating a national advisory committee focused on increasing the quality of care for seniors and support for their families.

Why Now?

America will see an increase in seniors with diminished cognitive ability over the next generation. According to the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement:

  • 6 million Americans aged 65 years or older have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
  • The number of Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia is expected to double over the next 50 years
  • The cost of caring for the elderly with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia is currently $321 billion

In addition, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, the population of Americans aged 65 and older exceeds 50 million people. The population of Americans aged 50 years and older is also growing and will need increasingly complex health care services over time.

Currently, the responsibility for taking care of an aging person falls solely on the individual’s family. This effectively limits access to quality long-term care for aging family members. As Americans get older, they require more long-term health care services, while their families need more support.

An advisory commission would not only include representatives from the fields of home health care and government, but also family caregivers and recipients of long-term care services. Members would make policy recommendations annually, according to the bill.

The commission, Sen. Rosen said in a statement, would be tasked with studying “challenges and needs in long-term care services, as well as provid[ing] specific recommendations so that Congress can make informed decisions on behalf of our seniors and others in need of quality, affordable long-term support and care.”

Establishing such a commission, Sen. Boozman adds, “will help us better prepare for future challenges, including coordinating services, training a workforce to meet seniors’ and individuals with disabilities’ needs, and providing information and options to empower them and their caregivers.”

Among the bill’s supporters are the Alzheimer’s Association, National Association for Home Care and Hospice, and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

The duties of the members of the commission include submitting policy recommendations regarding the following:

  • Long-term care coverage for non-Medicaid eligible population
  • Considerations for aging in place
  • Financing options for long-term care for low- and middle-income individuals
  • Caregiver supports and workforce stability and preparedness
  • Access to geriatric care and palliative care
  • Affordability of services
  • Support for adult children caring for aging parents
  • Increasing access to basic services
  • Reducing hospitalization costs through increased access to home-based services