Biden Proposes Major Changes to Government Health Care Programs

Biden Proposes Major Changes to Government Health Care Programs

Also last week, President Biden unveiled his proposal to create a $6.5 billion medical research agency with a bold new goal: quickly developing cures for diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.

If the agency is established, it could mark a fundamental shift in how the U.S. government funds research, steering the emphasis from basic science to higher-risk projects more directly aimed at major medical breakthroughs.

He also has proposed to spend $400 billion over eight years on home and community-based services, a major part of his $2 trillion infrastructure plan.  The goal here is to help older adults and people with disabilities remain independent as long as possible.

Republicans have said his proposal costs too much and argue that much of what the proposed American Jobs Plan contains, including the emphasis on home-based care, isn’t really about infrastructure.

According to Kaiser Health News, “Even advocates acknowledge the proposal doesn’t address the full extent of care needed by the nation’s rapidly growing older population. In particular, middle-income seniors won’t qualify directly for programs that would be expanded. They would, however, benefit from a larger, better paid, better trained workforce of aides that help people in their homes — one of the plan’s objectives.

“At some point, 70% of older adults will require help with dressing, hygiene, moving around, managing finances, taking medications, cooking, housekeeping and other daily needs, usually for two to four years. As the nation’s aging population expands to 74 million in 2030 (the year all baby boomers will have entered older age), that need will expand exponentially.

“This reflects a sobering reality: Long-term care services are simply too expensive for most individuals and families. According to a survey last year by Genworth, a financial services firm, the hourly cost for a home health aide averages $24. Annually, assisted living centers charge an average $51,600, while a semiprivate room in a nursing home goes for $93,075.”

Many seniors and their families probably think that Medicare will pay for long-term care if it is needed.  But that’s simply not the case.  The fact is, Medicare coverage is very limited.

Again, according to Kaiser Health Care News, “In the community, Medicare covers home health only for older adults and people with severe disabilities who are homebound and need skilled services from nurses and therapists. It does not pay for 24-hour care or homemakers or routinely cover care from personal aides. In 2018, about 3.4 million Medicare members received home health services.

“In nursing homes, Medicare pays only for rehabilitation services for a maximum of 100 days. It does not provide support for long-term stays in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.”

There are lots of questions still to be answered about the President’s plans.  TSLC will be watching carefully to see what the President’s final proposal contains and we will keep you updated as more information becomes available.