Fla. Health Care Group Backs Bill To Boost Senior Home Care Choices

The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) has made legislation giving seniors the option to convert their life insurance policies to pay for home care or skilled nursing care a top long-term care legislative priority for 2013. 

Senate Bill 794, sponsored by state Senator Jeff Brandes, and House Bill 535, sponsored by state Representative Jimmy Patronis, allows seniors to use the value of their life insurance policies to pay for Medicaid long-term care services.

In order to qualify for Medicaid coverage, prospective beneficiaries must have spent down their assets to a certain level. Seniors in need of Medicaid-covered long-term care services must often abandon their life insurance policies or cash surrender them.

The bill gives seniors more choice, says FHCA, including where they can receive services—whether at home for a longer period of time, or at a skilled nursing facility, depending on which setting is more appropriate. 

This option could help between 2,645 and 2,879 seniors with covering their long-term health care needs each year, according to a Florida State University Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis released in January, saving the state and taxpayers between $79-$93.1 million. 

“We believe this legislation is a win-win solution that will save taxpayer dollars while preserving the funding facilities need for care delivery and maintaining a stable workforce,” said Emmett Reed, FHCA’s executive director.

Another top long-term care legislative priority is to ask legislators to begin restoring Medicaid funding that has been cut from skilled nursing facility reimbursements in the past several years.

“Long term care providers continue to struggle with operating costs, such as skilled labor and the increased use of medical technologies, which exceed Medicaid reimbursements,” said Reed. “With 60% of nursing facility residents relying on Medicaid as their health care safety net, adequate Medicaid funding is critical to ensuring our state’s seniors continue to have access to quality long term care services.”

Tort reform is another concern, and SB 1384/HB 869 seeks to bar those not directly involved in providing care, such as investors and creditors, from being included in nursing home claims. 

“Rising liability costs add to the chronic funding challenges already facing the long-term care sector,” Reed said. “Reckless accusations by trial lawyers divert valuable time, attention and resources and unfairly tarnish the reputation of a trusted, high-quality facility.”

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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