Record Poor Will Impact Long Term Care Services

A record number of Americans signed up for Medicaid last year and experts warn it will impact those needing long term care.

According to a report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation enrollment in Medicaid, medical insurance program for the poor, increased to more than 48 million – a record 15.7 percent share of the U.S. population.   ”There will be two classes of Americans, those who will have to accept whatever care the government programs can afford, and those who have assets or insurance to pay,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.  “People in their 50s today are in for a real shock unless they expect things to get much better.”

With the economy barely improving, states are forecasting a 6 percent increase in the rolls next year, meaning another strain on their cash-depleted budgets. The Medicaid numbers are the latest piece to emerge in a grim statistical picture of the recession’s toll.

The ranks of the working-age poor climbed to the highest level since the 1960s last year, according to a recent Census report. Nearly 12 million households received food stamps, a record.

The $814 billion federal economic stimulus plan passed last year provided extra funding for states for Medicaid, in the hope of covering the costs of the increased number of enrollees and of freeing up state budgets for spending in other areas.

The plan helped states drop their spending on Medicaid, which can take up a third of their budgets, by 7.1 percent in fiscal 2010 and by 10.9 percent in fiscal 2009, Kaiser found. But even with the U.S. government shouldering a greater share of the burden, states were forced to make cuts. In fiscal 2010 48 of the 50 states made cuts to some part of their Medicaid programs, according to the report. In fiscal 2011, 46 states intend to cut back on Medicaid spending.

Altogether, 20 states restricted the types of benefits enrollees could use in fiscal 2010, the largest number since records began in 2001.

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