Citizens for Long Term Care





We are currently using an inadequate financing system that does not recognize the desires or address the needs of its recipients.




Today it is clearer than ever before that the American people are ready for a good dialogue on Social Security, Medicare, tax reform, pension, and insurance policy.



Our Principles

Role of Families

Costs should
be spread
broadly and progressively, so that out of pocket costs are affordable.


About Citizens for Long Term Care The Principles of CLTC The Issues important to CLTC The Members of CLTC Speeches Contact Us
Statement of
Senator David Durenberger, Chairman
Citizens for Long Term Care
April 7, 1999

Citizens for Long Term Cares is a very unique group of long term care associations, many of which have never worked together before. In fact, most have actively worked against one another at one time or other. What is it that brings us all here today under the umbrella of Citizens For Long Term Care? A presidential election in November 2000 will bring America a new President and new Congress. Just as the Presidential election of 1992 was used to prepare us for health care reform in 1993, we aim to use this campaign to compel policy makers to address this issue so that the next president of the United States adopts this issue and makes it one of his or her top agenda items.

Long term care in America is a predictable need for nearly half the country's population. Yet we ignore it. We do not plan for it in our private lives nor does the government have a comprehensive policy to deal with its incredible cost to federal and state budgets. We are currently using an inadequate financing system that does not recognize the desires or address the needs of its recipients. Our group-Citizens For Long Term is designed to put this issue on the national agenda where it belongs.

As we enter the Presidential election cycle there is a recognition among candidates that the voters have given them permission to talk about issues of income security. Social Security reform, Medicare reform, and tax reform are no longer untouchable issues. Voters recognize the need for change and want to hear candidates' plans to overhaul these programs.

Think about Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. Medicare and Medicaid are not health programs. They simply provide financial access to health and medical services. They appear to be health programs because of the administered pricing system the government chose to use, which dictates practice, terms of access, and provider behavior over the years since their invention.

Is Social Security a health program? No. Is tax policy a health program? No. Are Pension or insurance health programs? No. But have people used income from all three for drugs, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and dental care? Of course.

Economic security is more than low unemployment, inflation, and interest rates. Economic security is how each of us feels abut our ability now and in the future to meet our eventual predictable or financially catastrophic needs. That is why the Pepper Commission talked about a national reform is access to long-term coverage in terms of "adequate financial protection." But nothing happened.

That was then, this is now. Only one thing has changed. But it's critical.

Today it is clearer than ever before that the American people are ready for a good dialogue on Social Security, Medicare, tax reform, pension, and insurance policy. They want the leadership for dialogue and they understand the huge impact that 77 million baby boomers will have on these programs. As we plan for our economic security we cannot ignore how we will finance our long term care needs.

At an average national cost of $51,000 per year for long term care services and supports an individual or family cannot maintain economic security even if they have prepared for retirement. Unfortunately, most Americans are unaware of how long term care is paid for in this country. They do not realize, until its too late, that we use Medicaid, a welfare program that requires them to spend down their assets in order to receive assistance with the staggering costs. Medicaid as the primary payer for long term care in this country is an outdated, demeaning approach to supportive care services for our most vulnerable citizens-frail elderly, people with disabilities, and the chronically ill. Citizens For Long Term Care seeks to educate the public and raise awareness about the need to reform this system.

How did we reach this point?

In 1988 health care as a campaign issue began to receive attention from voters and candidates and it has been with us ever since. In 1990 the Pepper Commission, of which I was the vice chairman, made recommendations about the need for overhaul of long term care and its financing mechanisms. Consequently, the need for long term financing reform was lost in the larger debate of health care reform. Today, with the recognition that the nation needs to change its policies to deal with the demographic tidal wave of baby boomers, long term care financing reform has reemerged as an important policy question.

2030 stands as a critical year in the vision of our nation's development. As we approach the new millenium, no one is certain how our society will be transformed by technological, medical, economical, and social developments. We do know, however, that the current government services which provide for society's most fragile, the aged and those with disabilities, will not be able to meet their obligations; in fact, by 2030 most, if not all, services will be bankrupt unless overhauled.

In order to change policy and give candidates a invitation to talk about this issue, Citizens For Long Term Care intends to take this very personal issue of long term care and make it into a political issue. We are issuing a collective call to action to those people who have been dealing with this issue. Whether you are struggling to care for a frail elderly relative, a person with a disability or someone who is chronically ill, you understand how badly we need to change long term care financing. Please join us.