Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair
Senator Patricia Bates, Vice Chair
State Capitol, Room 2206
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: A.B. 332 (Calderon) – Support
California Health Advocates writes in strong support of A.B. 332 authored by Assemblyman Calderon. This bill will establish a task force to begin exploring the feasibility of a statewide program to provide and pay for long-term care, and subsequently to recommend options to the Governor and the legislature on the degree of feasibility of each recommended option.
California Health Advocates is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing quality Medicare and related healthcare coverage information, education and policy advocacy. California Health Advocates provides training and technical assistance to local Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Programs (HICAP) that provide benefits counseling and community education on Medicare and long-term care.
We are thrilled at the prospect of a task force to explore financing options for financing long-term care and make recommendation to the legislature for a fiscally sound, coordinated state approach to this expense. Financing this type of care is a subject that has befuddled consumers, policy-makers and legislators for decades, from the Pepper Commission in the 1980’s to the recent federal Commission on Long-term Care. Failure to address this problem has allowed it to grow out of control with no end in sight. California has an opportunity to lead the way for other states and the nation in developing a system for providing and paying for long-term care.
The costs of care today often impoverish those who need it and redirect Medi-Cal dollars from health care for the poor to nursing home expenses for the aged. Future long-term care costs of the baby boomer population will make current costs seem trivial by comparison. With 10,000 baby boomers a day turning 65 for the next 17 years it’s critical that a system for providing and paying for care be designed to cope with the costs of an aging population. In the coming years almost a quarter of California’s population will be made up of people 60 and older. Planning, providing and paying for long-term care has never been more critical than it is today.
Neither privately purchased insurance nor the state’s Medi-Cal program can solve the financing dilemma for this kind of care alone. Commercial insurance is medically underwritten, expensive, subject to huge premium increases, and discriminates in pricing against women, while Medi-Cal is faced with growing numbers of people who are or will become poor. Neither of these constitutes a system for the majority of people to plan and pay for long-term care.
California Health Advocates has long advocated for the development of a state or national solution for financing long-term care. We welcome A.B. 332 as a first step in exploring the potential for a groundbreaking, fiscally sound system that combines and integrates multiple payments sources to finance long-term care. We applaud Assemblyman Calderon for having the courage to take on this issue and we strongly support his bill.
We strongly urge passage of S.B. 575.