Is it too boring or complicated? No, Wiener, said. “But it needs a new slant.” Although there have been what he calls “endless victim articles” about poor quality in nursing homes, there’s been little focus on new programs for home and community-based care such as letting Medicaid recipients choose their own home health attendants. In his presentation to health journalists, Wiener offered a menu of questions and story ideas, including, for example:
• About twice as many people are receiving care at home than in nursing homes, and the trend will continue. Is that where money should be redirected?
• Germany and Japan finance long term care through social insurance. England has a system similar to ours, but the British government has taken steps to reform its “social care” system, putting that country way ahead of us in terms of policy discussions.
• Ineffective tax incentives and problematic regulation will continue to plague the market for long-term care insurance.
These topics should stimulate journalists’ appetites for creative coverage in their communities, and offer fresh ideas for pushing the candidates to talk about long-term care during the campaign. The subject of long-term care cries out for leadership from both the press and the candidates.