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Columbia Missourian

LETTER: Health care overhaul should include more choices

By Ron Sergent, Columbia
June 3, 2009 | 2:33 p.m. CDT

I’d like to weigh in on the health care-reform debate.

It’s time for lawmakers in Washington to wake up and smell the coffee! We need to not only provide health-care coverage for every American — we also need to take a hard look at the entire system.

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Under current law, Medicaid – the largest payer of long-term care – has an institutional bias. While states must provide coverage of nursing facility services, they do not have to cover most home- and community-based services. On average, Medicaid can pay for three older people using home- and community-based services for every one person in a nursing home

It’s shameful that so many people are forced into nursing homes when we could improve their quality of life and typically spend less money by caring for them at home. As we overhaul the health care system, we need to build win-win solutions that expand choices and could save billions of dollars.

I urge our lawmakers to think critically about any action that changes the current health care mess.

Ron Sergent is a member of AARP/Mo. Executive Council and is chairman of the Divided We Fail Health Care Initiative.