Shalala, Wiener: Long-term care left out


Drawing on AHCJ’s Aging in the 21st Century workshop, New America Media’s Paul Kleyman writes on health care reform’s failure to adequately address long-term care for the nation’s elderly. In particular, he focuses on keynote speaker and former HHS secretary Donna Shalala’s stark political assessment that, despite some promising signs, “we’re not there, yet.”

Donna Shalala spoke at AHCJ's "Aging in the 21st Century" workshop in October. (Photo: Charles Ding)
Donna Shalala spoke at AHCJ's "Aging in the 21st Century" workshop in October. (Photo: Charles Ding)

On a slight note of hope, Kleyman adds that while she’s pessimistic about comprehensive restructuring of long-term care, Shalala said it may be possible to “cobble together” an acceptable system if reformers can make a few key changes.

Kleyman also drew on long-term care expert Joshua Weiner’s speech at the recent On Lok Annual Conference. Weiner is a senior fellow at the Research Triangle Institute (bio) who emphasizes the costly and dangerous disconnect between acute care and long-term care in the American system.

He urges reformers to find ways to integrate long-term care facilities and hospitals, both financially and medically. At present, Weiner says, some parts of the system are covered and others aren’t, a situation which results in uneven and disconnected care, as well as repeated hospital visits for patients with chronic conditions. “Avoidable hospital readmissions, alone, cost Medicare $18 billion a year,” Kleyman writes.


Covering the Health of Local Nursing HomesCovering the Health of Local Nursing Homes: Check out AHCJ’s latest volume in its ongoing Slim Guide series. This reporting guide gives a head start to journalists who want to pursue stories about one of the most vulnerable populations – nursing home residents. It offers advice about Web sites, datasets, research and other resources. After reading this book, journalists can have more confidence in deciphering nursing home inspection reports, interviewing advocacy groups on all sides of an issue, locating key data, and more. The book includes story examples and ideas.

AHCJ publishes these reporting guides, with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to help journalists understand and accurately report on specific subjects.

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