The following Letter to the Editor was submitted to The Dallas Morning News by AARP volunteer Jeff Kreisberg.
Your story "Long-term care threatens to sap seniors' savings" (June 17), highlights the need for smarter solutions to America’s long-term care problem. The urgency of long-term care became strikingly evident as I witnessed both my own and my wife’s parents suffer not only from chronic illnesses and other end-of-life issues, but also from a woefully inadequate system of care. We had to deal with an ineffective, fragmented healthcare system that provided expensive, duplicative, and often unnecessary services. We were also confronted with the nightmare of warehousing our loved ones in facilities more concerned with their "bottom line" than human dignity. While an overwhelming percentage of seniors favor receiving care in their own homes, it’s not the default mechanism in our nation today. We should not force our seniors to receive more costly care in a nursing home. Average community-based care costs in Texas range from $700 to $1,400 per month, compared to $2,500 per month for the average Medicaid-funded nursing home. Home and community-based services will help our most vulnerable stay in their communities, among friends and family, as long as possible. And it saves money. Federal law must be changed to make it easier for states to provide older Americans access to home and community-based services.