Sen. Edwards Spends Day With Nursing Home Care Giver As Part of "Walk In My Shoes" Challenge To Presidential Candidates
Edwards' day with Elaine Ellis began at a 3 a.m. early morning breakfast and continued with rounds at the nursing home where Elaine works. Edwards helped nursing home residents dress, helped serve meals, and helped out a nursing home resident who needed a shave.
She said that he seemed like a very nice person and she felt grateful that he took the time to find out what her world is like. He said that she seemed like a caring person and that she treated the home residents like family.
Elaine actually works two jobs, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at one nursing home, and then from 3:30 p.m. to 9 another nursing home. When Edwards left, Elaine went to work at her second job.
She works two jobs because she does not make enough from her first job to support herself.
You have to wonder how she could possibly be doing a good job for the residents at either home, given how exhausted she must be. She's been doing this routine for more than 17 years.
Edwards was not there to critique her or the nursing home, however. He was there to watch and learn. Let's face it: neither the nursing home or the union would have let him in the door if there was any chance of that happening! At another time, Edwards needs to address the issues of understaffing, poor training, and low wages at nursing homes if this visit is to be more than a photo-op.
SEIU represents nursing assistants and some licensed nurses at the few nursing homes that are unionized. SEIU has invited all candidates for president, Democrats and Republicans, to experience firsthand what the employees' lives are like by spending a day with an employee.
Sen. Clinton, Sen. Dodd, Gov. Richardson, and Sen. Biden have all accepted the invitation. None of the Republican candidates have responded.
For more on the Walk in My Shoes Challenge, check out the SEIU website.
Click here to watch a short video clip from Edwards' day with Elaine.
Aging, Frail, and Fighting Insurers: Sen. Barack Obama Calls For Action by Government Accounting Office
The blog's March 27th entry related to the New York Times article, “Aging, Frail, and Fighting Insurers to Pay Up,” describing the despicable practices that some long-term care insurance companies use to avoid paying for long-term care for their elderly policyholders. Remember Mary Derks, pictured here with her daughter? Well, put your hands together for Senator Barack Obama, who, after reading the Times article, wrote a letter to the head of the Government Accountability Office calling for an investigation into long-term care insurance. This is the text of his letter:
"April 5, 2007
The Honorable David M. Walker
U.S. Government Accountability Office
441 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20548
Dear Mr. Walker:
A March 26, 2007 article in the New York Times investigated the
practices of several long-term care insurers and reported a number of
troubling findings about practices that "make it difficult - if not
impossible - for policyholders to get paid." According to the article,
nearly 1 in every 4 long-term care claims in California was denied in
Nearly 9 million long-term care policies had been sold as of 2002, the
most recent year for which data were available, with about 80 percent
purchased through the individual market and the remaining 20 percent
purchased through the group market. These products provide elderly
Americans with coverage for care in their homes, assisted living
facilities, and nursing homes. This range of services is critical for
the health and financial well-being of seniors, 70 percent of whom
will require long-term care at some point in their lives.
Long-term care is a problem of national significance. As the baby
boomers age, policymakers are struggling to design a long-term care
system that meets the needs of Americans with disabilities. While
progress has been made, the long-term care system is heavily biased
towards institutional care, and the quality of care is often poor.
Moreover, nursing home and home care are very expensive, and Medicare
coverage for both is limited. As a result, catastrophic out-of-pocket
expenses for nursing home and home care by American's older people are
routine, forcing many to rely on Medicaid to finance the care they
The federal government has taken steps to promote the use of long-term
care insurance. The Long-Term Care Partnership Program, a
public-private partnership between states and private insurance
companies, is one such example. The Federal Long-Term Care Insurance
Program, sponsored by the Office of Personnel Management for federal
employees, is a second example. In addition, the Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act has profoundly shaped the long-term
care market by establishing standards regarding the characteristics of
policies whose premiums can count towards the tax deduction available
for health care costs that exceed 7.5 percent of income.
I have a number of serious concerns about the long-term care insurance
market and its ability to fulfill its promises to its policyholders.
First, I am concerned about the possible arbitrary denial of insurance
benefits to seniors at their time of need. Second, I am concerned that
some insurers may be enticing individuals to buy policies by offering
low premiums, and then sharply increasing premiums if lapse rates are
not as high as assumed in the premium calculations. Third, a
substantial percentage of policies do not offer inflation adjustments,
resulting in a significant erosion of purchasing power in later years.
Even worse, some companies offer "inflation coverage," which allows
policyholders to purchase additional coverage at a later date, but at
the price charged to older purchasers. Premiums increase dramatically by
age, and individuals who elect to buy coverage later may not realize
that such coverage will be extremely expensive, which may be
Given the role of the federal government in long-term care financing,
I request that GAO investigate these allegations and the adequacy of
state and federal regulation. Specifically, I request that GAO review
the practices of these insurers in order to assess the following:
-- Rate of denial of claims, and as feasible, the extent to which
denials were justifiable;
-- Types of policies purchased, including the percentage of policies
that do adjust and do not adjust for inflation and those that allow
for purchase of additional coverage at a later date;
-- Estimated loss of purchasing power for those individuals that have
policies without inflation adjustment provisions;
-- Frequency and amount of premium increases in already purchased
policies, average lapse rates of policyholders, and the correlation
between premium increases and lapse rates;
-- Extent to which long-term care policies are marketed to individuals
that would likely qualify for Medicaid or may not have substantial
assets to protect; and
-- What, if any, additional federal regulation is needed.
United States Senator”
To read the New York Times article, click here.
Future editions of Elder Advocacy Blog will track both the talk and the walk of the 2008 Presidential Candidates on issues of elder medical care and nursing home abuse and elder abuse prevention. We need to make elder advocacy part of the national debate in electing a new president.