State & Federal Government Must Head off Funding Disaster for Future Long-term Care Needs

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Federal and state government incentives and public awareness programs are required to head off a funding disaster for future long-term care needs, a leading expert on long-term care insurance told a crowd in St. Louis.

Federal and state government incentives and public awareness programs are required to head off a funding disaster for future long-term care needs, a leading expert on long-term care insurance told a crowd in St. Louis.

Matt McCann, an Illinois based long-term care planning expert, was a featured speaker at the Ninth International Conference on Post-Polio Health and Ventilator-Assisted Living in St. Louis. He told the crowd that the growing need for Americans needing long-term care services will place a huge burden on the budget's of American families and that of state and federal government when many of those people end up on Medicaid, the medical welfare program, after spending down assets.

The rising cost of long-term health care and US demographics could cripple the US financially unless something is not done soon. Projections by the New England Journal of Medicine say that 43 percent of all Americans will spend some time in a nursing home; 55 percent will stay at least a year; and 21 percent will stay at least five years.

McCann told conference attendees in St. Louis that he applauds recent federal legislation which would allow an above the line tax deduction for long-term care insurance.

The Long-Term Care & Retirement Security Act of 2005, H.R. 2682 would provide federal tax incentives for Americans who purchase long-term care insurance. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Nancy Johnson (R-CT) and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), along with eight other House members. The bill will also tax credit for caregivers; and a provision that would allow long-term care insurance to be paid through employer-sponsored cafeteria plans and flexible spending accounts which use pre-tax dollars.

"I applaud Representatives Johnson and Pomeroy for again being leaders and leading the way as we find ways to protect Americans from one of the biggest financial risks any of us will face during our lifetime," said McCann.

McCann urged attendees to write or call their area Member of Congress to support this common sense legislation.

"This legislation is designed to address a major flaw in the nation's healthcare financing system and is important because it would make long-term care insurance more affordable to more American families. Anything we can do to encourage people to plan for long-term care with very affordable long-term care insurance is good public policy, "said McCann.

Many states provide tax incentives to encourage the purchase of long-term care insurance. Many others are now considering tax incentives. McCann said the Illinois State Senate passed SB1707 which would create a state income tax credit. Other states are also looking at tax incentives as well.

Private long-term care insurance has become a product attracting the attention of those between 40 and 65 years of age since the cost is very reasonable at those ages and a person's health usually is much better. Health is important in order to obtain coverage.

McCann says a well designed long-term care insurance plan is very affordable and can protect the family from future long-term care health costs which are not paid by health insurance or Medicare.

McCann also noted the Long-Term Care Consumer Awareness Campaign Project, jointly funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the US Department of Health and Human Services, should be spread to all the states. Five states have taken part so far, Arkansas, Idaho, Nevada, New Jersey and Virginia.

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Matt McCann
ACSIA
630-698-0916
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