Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, today secured passage of an amendment to help millions of American seniors by improving the quality of long-term health care. The Senator's amendment makes room in the FY2008 Budget Resolution for efforts to improve long-term care in a fiscally responsible manner.
“As the Baby Boomers move towards retirement, it's important that our nation plans for their long term needs,” said Sen. Cardin. “Many Americans mistakenly believe that Medicare will cover their nursing home care. Once they find out it won't, it's often too late for them to purchase affordable long term care. Whether it's helping families cover nursing home care, or making it easier for them to afford home care, we must make long-term care a priority in this nation. The federal budget should reflect the critical nature of this problem.”
Senator Cardin's amendment allows the Chairman of the Budget Committee to revise the Budget Resolution to: improve long-term care, enhance the safety and dignity of patients, encourage appropriate use of institutional and non-institutional care, promote quality care, and provide for cost-effective use of public resources.
Senator Cardin is particularly concerned with our health care system's ability to manage the long term needs of retiring Baby Boomers. The Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) will start turning 65 in 2011, and the number of older people will increase dramatically during the next twenty years. By 2030, the older population will be twice as large as it was in 2000, growing to 71.5 million and representing 20 percent of our total population.
The individual costs of nursing home care typically range from $80,000 to $100,000 a year. Medicare specifically excludes nursing home care costs, except for limited stays in a skilled nursing facility. Medicaid covers nursing home care and other long-term costs, but only after seniors have spent their life savings.
“We must look out for our aging population,” said Sen. Cardin. “This amendment will give Congress some real flexibility to help our aging population. We have a responsibility to help our seniors live with the dignity they deserve.”