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Saying that long-term care is at a “crisis point,” LeadingAge is urging lawmakers to deliver “real solutions” for older adults and their caregivers in senior living and across the long-term care continuum.

LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan in a letter called on members of the House 21st Century Long-Term Care Caucus to enact long-term care finance reform, develop workforce initiatives to address workforce challenges, and expand the supply of affordable housing for older adults. 

The congressional caucus was formed earlier this summer to focus on issues such as staffing, industry regulation and innovations to improve care.

“Long-term care should not be a luxury item for the wealthiest Americans who can afford to pay for it out of pocket, and the lowest income who, depending on their state’s Medicaid program, may be able to have their long-term care covered under Medicaid,” Sloan wrote. 

In her letter, Sloan encouraged caucus members to champion the Well-Being Insurance for Seniors to be at Home (WISH) Act, which would create a public-private partnership to pay for catastrophic long-term care insurance and enable families to generate funding for coverage.

Sloan also proposed enacting permanent Medicaid payment changes across long-term care settings, as well as providing a living wage that is included in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement formulas for providers participating in those programs.

LeadingAge’s workforce proposals center on developing domestic and international pipelines of workers, including implementing a new temporary guest worker H-2 visa program for providers serving older adults and disabled individuals. Sloan also proposed funding programs to create those workforce pipelines, and supporting industry employers through grants for recruitment and retention activities, including wage subsidies, tuition assistance, childcare and transportation assistance.

Additionally, as affordable senior housing is one of LeadingAge’s top policy priorities for 2022, Sloan’s letter also proposed including in any forthcoming legislation $2.5 billion for 26,000 new Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly homes, $15 billion for 260,000 new Project-Based Rental Assistance homes, and funding for service coordinators.

“Financing, workforce and housing are all key components of maintaining and promoting high quality of life and of care for our older adult population,” she wrote.