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September 16, 2013

Sept. 16, 2013: Letters to the editor

Let’s not be the last generation to retire

As a grandfather, I hope our most recent Grandparents Day — Sept. 8 — inspired different generations to have a conversation about retirement security. We must address a coming shortage of long-term care providers and work together to preserve Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Long-term care (LTC) includes a wide array of medical and non-medical care to people who have a chronic illness or disability over an extended period of time. A growing number of baby boomers, including myself, may soon be seeking long-term care services, and almost every American family will have to decide what services they need and can afford. Medicaid is the country’s largest public payer for LTC, accounting for 40 percent of all services delivered. If you are not Medicaid-eligible, you are responsible for covering most of the cost of LTC.

Additionally, Medicare covers a part of LTC costs. It covers some home health, skilled nursing, and hospice care. However, Medicare is meant for short-term treatment, and is not intended to be a LTC program. Medicare will cover a limited stay in a nursing home if an individual has been in the hospital for at least three of the last 30 days. That is why it is so disheartening to hear of politicians who want to cut Medicare and Medicaid. When faced with this situation, many individuals turn to their families for help or tap into the retirement savings.

Social Security, another program vital for older Americans, is one of America’s greatest success stories. For 78 years, it has helped retirees stay healthy and out of poverty. But Social Security is important to more than just seniors. Social Security helps workers who suffer career-ending injuries and illness, as well as children who have lost a parent.

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