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Alzheimer's Lobby Heads to D.C.

The following is an excerpt from an article which appeared in the March 26, 1998 edition of The Denver Business Journal:

Alzheimer's Lobby Heads to D.C.

By Marsha Austin

A group of Coloradans will join the Alzheimer's Association Rocky Mountain Chapter in Washington, D.C., March 20-21 as part of a national lobbying effort for research funding and changes to Medicaid and Medicare payment systems. 

People diagnosed with Alzheimer's, a mentally debilitating disease, cannot purchase long-term insurance coverage, and are forced to either privately fund medical costs or turn to Medicaid for financial relief. 

The problem with Medicaid, said Susan Stern of Centura Health Insurance Counseling for Seniors, is that Alzheimer's sufferers cannot qualify for the federally funded program if they hold more than $2,000 in assets, excluding a home and car. 

Federal legislation passed in 1993 allows Alzheimer's patients to take a lien on their home in return for Medicaid benefits. The law also allows the government to sell the home after the person's death, leaving many spouses in dire straights, said Samuel Kaplan, founder and chairman of Los Angeles-based U.S. Care Inc. 

According to Kaplan, the average cost of nursing home care for an Alzheimer's patient in Colorado is $44,000 per year and adult in-home day care costs around $28,000 a year. 

U.S. Care Inc. manages a long-term health insurance plan which includes nursing home and day-care coverage, available to members of the Public Employees Retirement Association of Colorado. 

Only about 4 percent of Americans now carry long-term care insurance, said Kaplan. 

Many people do not realize that Medicare and most employer-sponsored health insurance plans do not cover long-term Alzheimer's care, said Stern. 

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