Legislature(2001 - 2002)
04/27/2001 01:37 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SJR 28-INFO ABOUT LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE CHAIRWOMAN LYDA GREEN called the Senate Health, Education and Social Services Committee meeting to order at 1:37 p.m. and announced SJR 28 to be up for consideration. SENATOR WILKEN, sponsor of SJR 28, said the resolution has to do with the dissemination of long-term care insurance information and encourages Alaskans and Americans to consider it. This resolution was proposed by the Alzheimer's Association and the American Legislative Conference, but this is an effort that is going on nationwide. He read the sponsor statement as follows: SJR 28 directs appropriate state and federal agencies to inform the public about the high cost of long-term care services and the need for families to plan in advance for their long-term care needs. The fastest growing population in Alaska is people who are 65 years or older. The senior community is growing about 5 percent annually while the rest of the population is growing at a slight 2 percent. This growth rate can almost triple to 12 percent by 2018. In less than 20 years, seniors will comprise a significant portion of Alaska's total population. These rapid growth rates are coupled with the high cost of providing long-term care in Alaska. At an average of over $210 per day, Alaska's nursing home costs rank number one nationwide, twice the national average. This incredible expense can have a disastrous effect on families wiping out a lifetime of savings before the elder becomes eligible for Medicaid. Widespread use of private long-term care insurance has the potential to protect families from the catastrophic costs of long-term care services while at the same time reducing the burden on Medicaid as Alaska ages. Most Americans, 76 percent in fact, cannot believe they will ever need long-term and, therefore, do not explore the option of obtaining private long-term care insurance. SJR 28 directs the beginning of an educational campaign to inform Alaskans about the realities of aging and how individuals can protect themselves for the future. SENATOR WILKEN referred to the Long-Term Care Task Force report, published in January 1999, and said item 29 addresses this particular issue. He said the Long-Term Care and Retirement Security Act of 2001, HR 831 and SB 627, are currently under consideration in our U.S. Congress. CHAIRWOMAN GREEN said she appreciated the work the committee did on this. SENATOR WILKEN moved to adopt amendment 1, which adds two names to the distribution list, Honorable Tommy Thompson, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and Jane P. Demmert, Director, Alaska Commission on Aging, and asked for unanimous consent. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SENATOR WILKEN moved amendment 2 on page 2, line 21, to delete "still" and asked for unanimous consent. He explained that they are trying to determine to what extent tax rules may discriminate against the buyers of long-term care insurance policies. There were no objections and it was so ordered. Number 616 MR. JOHN SHERWOOD, Division of Medical Assistance, Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) said he works with the Medicaid Program in the area of long-term care and that currently in Alaska, the Medicaid Program pays for long term care for about 2,000 people, in either nursing facilities or other home or community- based settings. He said that very often people contact his division and they aren't prepared for the eventuality. He said it has a profound impact on their financial and emotional situation. He supported any efforts to make the public aware of the need to plan and take appropriate action. SENATOR WILKEN moved to pass SJR 28 from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered.