Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/27/2001 01:37 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                                                            
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                                                             
SENATOR WILKEN  moved to pass SJR 28 from committee  with individual                                                            
recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                

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