Recession said to be a threat to elderly healthcare

Sept. 23, 2011 at 1:06 PM
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LONDON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The recession threatens to derail reforms in long-term care leaving the elderly facing mounting medical bills, an economic adviser to the U.K. government says.

Government ministers are debating proposals that would mean no one would pay more than a maximum of $54,000 for their long-term care, with any costs above that covered by the state, The Daily Telegraph said.

However, the economist who drew up the proposals said he worries the economic crisis will make Prime Minister David Cameron reluctant to commit to the extra $2.6 billion a year the plan would cost.

Andrew Dilnot, appointed last year by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, said he did not think his reforms were "dead" but urged health advocates to hold Cameron's "feet to the fire" to ensure the government acts.

In July, Dilnot proposed a "social insurance" system, potentially funded through higher taxes, to ensure the elderly no longer face "catastrophic" bills for long-term care.

He acknowledged politicians were reluctant to commit more public money in a troubled economy.

"There is a problem," he said. "There is inertia because the public finances are not in a good way. If we had got this out 10 years ago, there would not be a discussion about public funding. We have got a much steeper hill to climb."

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