Recent Op-Eds

September 9th marks the beginning of National Assisted Living Week. Many people will have the experience of requiring some kind of long-term health care in their lifetime, including assisted living. The challenges that families face in providing necessary care for loved ones can be daunting, and long-term care services are especially important for many communities in South Dakota.

As Congress begins to tackle the larger issue of health care reform, we must also address the looming challenge of our nation's aging population, which will create an even greater demand for affordable long-term care services, such as assisted living. In rural areas such as South Dakota, this presents an even greater challenge. The soaring cost of long-term care also continues to put a considerable strain on our federal health care programs, Medicare and Medicaid.

Before returning to South Dakota for the August recess, I introduced legislation that would make it easier for people to buy insurance to provide for their long-term health care needs. I believe that we should encourage people to prepare for potential long term care while they are younger and working. By helping individuals afford long-term care insurance, they will have that best suit their needs, including assisted living, nursing home care, or even home-based or respite care.
The later years of life should be spent enjoying the company of grandchildren, family and friends. We have some of the highest quality health care in the world, but cost remains a huge burden for families. Affordable long-term care insurance is one option that can help relieve the burden of long-term care planning and give people the flexibility and freedom they need to make the best decisions for their own health care future.

National Assisted Living Week is a reminder to all of us that there may come a day when we need a little extra help. By providing citizens with access to long term care insurance while they are still working, we can take pressure off government programs and give people power over their own long term care needs.