Our View: long-term care partnership needed

Wednesday , February 05, 2014 - 1:05 PM

Editorial Board, Standard-Examiner

Utah is one of only a handful of states in which residents do not have access to a long-term care planning tool as they grow older and have to deal with the economic challenges of aging.

That needs to change. And our legislators can do that if they support and pass Senate Bill 14, which allows the sale of long-term care partnerships in our state. The bill makes technical changes in our state’s code in which the partnerships would not count as an asset when an individual is being screened for eligibility in Medicaid.

In these tough economic times, we desperately need a law such as this. There are tens of thousands of Utahns, perhaps more, who should not be required to spend down their assets to qualify for Medicaid assistance. Under SB 14, sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, our state could partner with the private sector and have residents obtain long-term insurance coverage — to protect the assets they have worked for — and still receive Medicaid assistance.

This is a program that allows individuals, many of whom have worked hard their entire life, to keep the assets they have accumulated while they receive the health care they need. Frankly, it is heartless to require an individual to surrender their savings in order to receive Medicaid. Why do that? It makes no sense. We don’t want individuals to spend their last years in poverty because they needed health care.

SB14 allows individuals the dignity of having control over their long-term care options. It allows the private sector to work with the public sector to save individuals’ money for their retirement. And it’s working. In California, $33 million has been saved as a result of having this long-term care partnership option.

The U.S. Congress allowed the implementation of these long-term care partnerships in 2006. So far, Utah still prohibits it. It’s time to change that. Please urge your legislators to pass SB14.

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