Robyn Grant, director of public policy and advocacy for the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care, said few Americans buy private long-term care insurance, many do not have the money to stay in a nursing home that can cost $80,000 a year and most people don't know Medicare does not pay for long-term nursing home care, The New York Times reported.
Many people are forced to go on Medicaid to receive nursing home care, but most people don't realize this, Grant added.
Medicare does pay for 100 days of rehabilitation -- a senior falls, breaks a leg, and needs care to recover -- but it doesn't pay for so-called custodial care involving care 24/7.
Many associate Medicaid with caring for poor children, but nursing home care for the elderly accounts for about one-third of Medicaid's total cost. Medicaid spends more than five times as much on each senior in long-term care as it does on each poor child and more per person on the disabled in long-term-care, Grant said.
Today, a vast majority of the nation's 1.8 million nursing home residents depend on Medicaid to cover most of the bill. Over all, $400 billion in shared federal and state spending goes to pay for nursing home care for the elderly and the disabled, Grant said.
However, some in the GOP, including Republican nominee for president Mitt Romney, want to replace this Medicaid funding with block grants that would cut spending by one-third over a decade and which would allow states to change the federal rules that now protect adult children from being billed for their parents' nursing home care, the Times said.