KIRKLAND, Wash. — Although President Obama has called for affordable, accessible, high-quality health care for all Americans, “There’s no guarantee the legislation will bridge the long term care gap,” says Denise Gott. “Only about 9 million Americans, a fraction of our 300 million plus, have long term care insurance. And among those at greatest risk, 45 and older, more than 9 in 10 go uncovered. Health reform won’t be complete unless Congress addresses this gaping hole.” Gott is Chairman of the Board of LTC Financial Partners LLC (LTCFP) — http://www.ltcfp.com — one of the nation’s most experienced long term care insurance agencies.
Americans need tax and other incentives to help pay for the missing long term care protection, Gott asserts. And she applauds recent Congressional efforts to provide those incentives: House bill H.R. 2096, the Long-Term Care Affordability and Security Act; and companion legislation in the Senate, S. 702.
“Depending on public support,” says Gott, “efforts like these could make it into law or wither on the vine. A barrage of letters and calls, right now, could make all the difference.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House of Representatives, has promised an omnibus U.S. health care bill, ready for debate, before the August recess. Whether it will contain provisions like those in H.R. 2096, “depends on the pressure of competing needs and factions,” says Gott. “If we want those provisions, we’d better make a lot of noise.” Senate action is expected to follow House action, “but our Senators are making up their minds now, and they need to hear from us now too.”
H.R. 2096 and S. 702 would allow long-term care insurance to be included in employer-sponsored cafeteria plans and flexible spending accounts, enabling people to pay their long-term care insurance premiums using pre-tax dollars. “I don’t care whether these bills pass as they are, or their provisions are ported into a broader bill, just so we get the incentives,” says Gott. Sponsors of the House version are Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), Charles Boustany (R-LA) and Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL). Sponsors of the Senate version are Charles Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), John Ensign (R-NV), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Tim Johnson (D-SD).
Gott also applauds the efforts of Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Representative John Dingell (D-MI) to provide some form of care for all citizens, while controlling Medicaid costs and empowering many with care needs to remain active in their communities.
“We need to let these legislators know we’re behind them,” says Gott. “And we need to let everyone else in Congress know too.” Contact information for Washington officials is available at — http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml. “Just fill out a form saying you want all Americans to have long term care protection, click and send,” says Gott. “Or if you prefer, dial a number and state your views on the phone.”
Should you wait for the legislation before investigating long term care insurance? “There’s a big risk in waiting,” says Gott. “If your health deteriorates, you’ll have to pay a higher rate or might not qualify at all. Then you’d have to pay all the bills yourself or rely on Medicaid.”
Gott’s organization offers help from over 550 independent long term care agents. They’re available by phone or in person to advise individuals and companies on the most suitable policies from leading insurance companies. A listing of LTCFP’s agents, by state, is available at http://web.ltcfp.com/ltcfp/find-agent.aspx.