Long Term Care Planning and Washington, D.C.
What is going on in Washington, D.C. with long term care planning? This is a major question I asked myself recently when I traveled there and lobbied on behalf of NAIFA, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Planners. I was hoping that long term care planning would be higher on the national agenda than I had come to believe. I was aware that the 2016 White House Conference on Aging was scheduled to take place on July 13th. This only happens about once every ten years. It could be a big deal. Would I hear some talk about it?
I first attended a full 24 hours of NAIFA meetings. One would think that NAIFA would be excited about the White House Conference and would even be a strong participant. But alas, the Conference on Aging was not mentioned at all. Long term care was only mentioned briefly several times as one of many insurance products that were needed to protect senior Americans.
The next day was filled with visits to California House Representatives. I was a part of three visits, each of which lasted a good thirty minutes. At each visit, I was able to mention longevity and the need for long term care planning. But again, I found little enthusiasm for the subject.
Instead, I got the impression that there was no appetite whatsoever for any new federal programs, especially expensive ones. I found concern, but no appetite to institute change in Medicare and Medi- Caid that would rock the boat.
The reaction from these Democrat representatives was, “How are we going to pay for it?” Honestly, I couldn’t provide an answer, for I don’t know how we’re going to pay for this very complicated problem either. I could only say that I could project that federal long term care expense could well triple over the next twenty years. I merely added to the frustration of the representatives.
The atmosphere is averse to creating a solution. You know about the gridlock in Congress. Republicans are in control of both Houses. They want to increase defense spending, balance the budget, and reduce the deficit. With those priorities, long term care initiatives are off the table.
Therefore, I am not optimistic that the White House Conference on Aging will produce much more than talk and little action. It could well be many years before Congress deals with the financial tsunami that will occur and then try to do something when it’s too late to protect the eighty million or so baby boomers that will soon reach their seventies and eighties.
In fact, I believe that the chances for real reform are far better in California and several other states than they are on the Federal level. I plan to continue to concentrate my efforts in Sacramento. In my view, any effort in Washington D.C. is going to be an uphill battle due to the federal government’s current priorities.
Louis H. Brownstone is the Chairman of Northstar Network Insurance Agency, Inc. and is a certified Long Term Care specialist. Louis is recognized as an industry leader, with articles appearing frequently in California Broker Magazine and other industry publications and events.