Long-term term care in the United States is provided through a complex, informal network of services and supports that individuals and their families cobble together. More than 10 million Americans need long-term care services. About 40% of long-term care consumers are younger than 65 years of age. And, although the need for long-term services is highest among the older population, there are many children and young adults who need these services as well.
America’s piecemeal system of long-term care continues to be one of the biggest threats to Americans’ financial security, independence and quality of life. Absent a sound national policy, the true costs of long-term care are being shifted into the future for families who are the default “system” for millions of Americans.
Among its recommendations for long-term care, OWL supports:
*The establishment of a social insurance program for long-term care that requires full participation of all Americans.
*The passage of federal legislation to provide paid family and medical leave.
*Requiring living wages and benefits for direct care workers.
*Increasing the federal funding available for long-term care services and supports as well as improving access to LTSS for those who do not qualify for Medicaid.
*The passage of a federal tax credit for family caregivers.
Healthcare and Women
Throughout our history, OWL has consistently advocated for quality, accessible healthcare for all Americans. We have further emphasized the unique health concerns of women and the specific financial and social challenges women encounter in accessing care.
From the beginning, OWL actively campaigned for the elimination of age and gender ratings in insurance premiums. Before the prohibition of gender ratings by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), a woman purchasing insurance coverage in the individual market could end up paying nearly twice as much as a man of the same age for the same policy.
The Affordable Care Act
In 2009 and 2010, OWL joined a diverse set of organizations in working in the development and passage of the ACA. OWL took a strong leadership position on gender and age rating of health insurance premiums and moved the dialogue forward on this topic despite strong opposition. As a result, the ACA essentially eliminated gender rating, and insurers are restricted to a 3 to 1 age ratio (rather than a 5 to 1 ratio).
OWL emphasized healthcare reform in its 2011 Mother’s Day campaign and highlighted the ACA in its 2011 Mother’s Day Report, The Affordable Health Care Act: The American Version of Health Care for All.
Recognizing that the implementation of the ACA continues to face legal, political, and logistical challenges in 2014, we call upon leadership on both sides of the aisle to work together. Opponents must recognize that the ACA is law—its constitutionality upheld by the Supreme Court. Supporters must recognize the imperfections in the law. Both sides must come together to address the law’s weaknesses and to work toward the goal of access to quality healthcare for all.