The Care of Tomorrow's Elderly

The Care of Tomorrow's Elderly

The Care of Tomorrow's Elderly

The Care of Tomorrow's Elderly

Excerpt

The chapters in this volume were written against the backdrop of an ongoing national debate between those urging new federal entitlements to long-term care for older Americans and those seeking to enhance the role of the private market. Many of these authors are AEI scholars approaching the subject from the perspectives of disciplines other than the economics of health care, enabling them to offer a wider range of analyses and recommendations. In general, they argue for a continued mixture of public and private financing and organizational arrangements. But they urge a change in the mixture, toward greater reliance in the future on private resources and the market to meet the long-term needs of the elderly. Several of them, moreover, argue for rethinking some of the basic premises behind public policies concerning the elderly.

Many of the articles point toward a redefined role for the federal government with respect to the needs of older Americans for health care and adequate income in retirement. This role, in brief, is to assume responsibility for the poorest while encouraging private market responses to take care of the preponderance of citizens sixty-five years old or more. The changing realities of demographic trends and fiscal constraints--and the improved economic status of most of the elderly--argue not for an additional federal entitlement program but for targeting public aid to the most vulnerable, while encouraging the market to offer affordable protection against catastrophic expenditures such as nursing home stays or extended home care services to the great majority.

The United States must develop a coherent longer-term strategy for meeting the health care and retirement needs of its elderly and a more consistent set of policies flowing from this strategy. The policy agenda should be responsive to the changed requirements and circumstances of older Americans--needs for greater protection against the potentially ruinous expenses of long-term care, taking into account their increased wealth and higher incomes relative to the rest of the population. These policies must be fair and humane in their application to the diversity of situations in which the elderly find . . .

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