In the last few weeks the Medicaid narrative has changed. Some news outlets are starting to report on Medicaid’s role in paying for long-term care, which consumes such a large chunk of program dollars. Medicaid’s role is crucial, since the US does not have a program to finance long-term care. (The Obama administration supported a provision in the 2010 health reform law called the CLASS Act. This was a voluntary program, in which people could begin to prefund their long-term care expenses. However, the administration subsequently found it to be unworkable. The House later repealed it. )
The Times has shown what kind of reporting can be done about the long-term care dilemma. A fine story by Nina Bernstein examined the importance of Medicaid financing for long-term care. Bernstein dove into New York Medicaid and raised important questions about the state’s new effort to save money by enrolling nursing home residents in Medicaid managed care, on the debatable theory that this will save the state money. The idea is to pay a managed care company a fee for taking care of an elder’s needs.
Bernstein has opened a treasure trove of story ideas for local reporting elsewhere. States are exploring ways to reduce their Medicaid spending. How all that will affect families struggling to pay for care is newsworthy, to say the least.