Long-term care refers to services provided or granted to individuals who are in need of care or either medical or non-medical attention. People who are in need of long-term care services are those with severe illnesses or disabilities who are unable to fulfill even their most basic needs and responsibilities toward their selves. For instance, individuals who are unable to move independently are most likely in need of support in fulfilling basic activities everyday such as eating, taking a bath, dressing, etc.
(“Long-Term Care,” 2007) To address these needs of individuals who need long-term care, there are policies being implemented in order to accomplish the gaps between the receiver of long-term care, the quality of long-term care, and most importantly the accessibility of long-term care services. In the United States, the federal government implements policies that address long-term care policy issues through the Medicare and Medicaid programs that make it possible for individuals to receive long-term care based on set standards and guidelines.
These programs were the government’s response to problems concerning access to long-term care by vulnerable populations, as opposed to difficulties in obtaining long-term care services from private institutions or from personal resources. Medicare addresses problems of long-term care accessibility by allocating financial resources to fund skilled and competent workers who are able to provide long-term care services such as nurses, as well as establishments of facilities wherein people may receive long-term care services.
Medicaid, on the other hand, allocates state and federal financial resources in order to provide long-term care for the elderly who are unable to sustain their daily needs due to their economic positions or situations. The long-term care services that Medicaid provides for the elderly are limited to nursing home care and other basic services. Like Medicare, Medicaid also screens individuals who will be provided with free or subsidized long-term care services, based on their income and other personal funds or resources.
(“Long-Term Care,” 2007) Although implementing programs that help the nation’s people access long-term care services is an enormous aid or support in itself, there needs to be some improvements done in order to enhance the quality of long-term care services by raising standards and guidelines to provide efficient and appropriate services, as well as expand the coverage of long-term care access for the benefit of the people, while at the same time controlling and monitoring spending for cost-efficiency.
For instance, the limitations of the coverage in Medicare or Medicaid provided long-term care services do not support continuity and progress or development in the people’s health and wellbeing. This is because the funds obtained from Medicare or Medicaid does not fully cover all the expenses that individuals need for long-term care.
(“Paying for Long Term Care,” 2007) Although Medicare and Medicaid may be able to provide initial payment or resources to establish an individual’s access to long-term care services, the continuity of these services to ensure a full track resurgence or possible recuperation is not guaranteed, especially for situations wherein individuals do not have personal resources or fees to cover the rest of the expenses.