New Evidence That a Medicare Benefit for Long-Term Services and Supports Could Save Money All Around

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<p>Medicare doesn’t cover long-term services and supports, even as increasing numbers of beneficiaries — including older adults with Alzheimer’s or multiple chronic conditions — require help with daily activities like dressing, bathing, and eating. In addition to cost, resistance to adding coverage of long-term services and supports to Medicare’s benefit package usually stems from the belief that paid services end up substituting for the informal care that family caregivers already provide.</p><p>But according to a new analysis, families that use paid personal care services don’t stop providing care themselves. Rather, this paid support serves as a much-needed supplement to unpaid family caregiving.</p>
<p>In their study, Commonwealth Fund–supported researchers Amber Willink, Karen Davis, and colleagues found that the amount of unpaid care provided varies little between those who receive both paid and unpaid support and those who receive unpaid support only. They argue for a publicly financed solution that supports individual and family caregivers, enabling older adults to remain safely in the community and avoid, or at least delay, the need for expensive institutional care.</p> Read more