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How will the new healthcare law affect me if I have long-term care needs?

Sharine Forbes
Geriatric Medicine
Until recently when President Obama signed the Health Care reform into law, there was “no political right in America for people to have decent housing, or health care due to the fact that Americans strongly uphold the concept of individualism." The health care reform bill has made it their right as American citizens to have proper health-care with trained medical professionals. The CLASS Act which is part of the health care overhaul will allow for individuals with LTC needs to receive the care that they need without having to "spend down". Essentially, health care reform is extremely beneficial for those looking to participate in long term care.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

The new healthcare law has components designed specifically to target long-term care needs. One of the most significant additions is the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act. In 2012, CLASS, which is designed to assist people who need help performing their daily tasks, will come into effect. The voluntary program will provide a cash allowance to help you keep your independence and possibly stay in your home. You will need to enroll in the CLASS program, though.

You can also expect expanded services from Medicaid to cover long-term care needs.

Don’t forget that Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) provides coverage of nursing home stays, prescription drugs, and other medical costs so older people can remain in their communities. PACE is a partnership of Medicare and Medicaid and is offered in many states but not all. To qualify for PACE, you must be 55 or older, live in a PACE service area, and need nursing home care. 

For more information about long-term care needs, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). They provide free education and counseling about Medicare services and programs.

People with long-term care needs will be able to get more services to help them live independently in their own home and community. They can participate in a new voluntary insurance program that will give them the cash they need to help pay for long-term care in the future.
The new health care law:
Helps you pay for long-term care: You can participate in a voluntary national insurance program to help you pay for some of your future long-term care services and supports. This new program will pay you a lifetime cash benefit if you paid into the program for at least five years, worked at least three of the initial five years you are enrolled, have a qualifying disability and meet other eligibility criteria. Starting probably in 2012 or 2013, all working adults will be able to enroll in the program. If your employer participates, you will be enrolled automatically in this insurance through a payroll deduction, unless you choose not to participate.
Provides better information and accountability for nursing home care: It will be easier to file complaints about the quality of care at a nursing home. You also will have access to more information on nursing home quality and resident rights. Starts in 2011.
Extends financial protections to more spouses of people on Medicaid: If you are married to someone on Medicaid who is receiving care services at home, you will have the same protections for your income and other resources as do spouses of those on Medicaid who live in a nursing home. Starts in 2014.
Promotes independent living: Your state may receive financial incentives to provide greater access to the services and supports you need to live independently in your own home and community.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.