“Why the coronavirus has taken so many lives in US nursing homes,” by Dylan Scott, Vox
“America has done a poor job funding and overseeing long-term care for decades, and there had not been adequate emergency planning for a crisis like the US is experiencing now with the coronavirus. And once the virus got here, the lack of a national strategy to ramp up Covid-19 testing in nursing homes and to provide protective equipment to staff made it easier for the virus to spread in these densely populated settings. Some state-level policy decisions, particularly to transfer recently recovered Covid-19 patients back into long-term care facilities, also exacerbated the risk to this population. It all adds up to a devastating reckoning for a sector that is too often ignored in discussions about how to improve US health care. Here are three ways the coronavirus response went wrong in long-term care and what we might learn from it.”
LTC Comment (from Stephen A. Moses, President, Center for Long-Term Care Reform):
Three ways? Fine, but it all boils down to Medicaid. Medicaid trapped people in nursing homes by being the only major funder for long-term care other than private pay since 1965. It crowded out markets for home care and private insurance to pay for long-term care. It collapsed quality by paying too little to ensure excellent care. Yet most analysts ignore these facts and focus on throwing more government money at the problem. The right solution is to retarget Medicaid LTC benefits to people in need and incentivize others to pay privately for care through savings, home equity, and, once people see the need, insurance. More private money in the LTC market will improve access to and quality of care for all.