Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced today he has selected Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein to be a member of the recently created National Commission on Long-Term Care. Greenstein is the only representative thus far from Louisiana appointed to the bipartisan, 15-member commission, which is tasked with studying how to effectively reform long-term care supports and services and submitting recommendations to Congress.
"I want to thank Leader McConnell for the opportunity to serve and offer a state-based perspective on this critical topic," Greenstein said. "In just 15 years, one in every five Americans will be aged 65 or older. They are aging into a system that spends hundreds of billions of dollars a year and delivers uneven results. We must work across state lines and levels of government to create a long-term system that meets their needs and looks like it was designed on purpose."
The Long-Term Care Commission will have six months once all appointments are made to examine how best to reform and restructure these services for the elderly and people who have disabilities and their caregivers, then develop a comprehensive report on recommended changes.
The commission will look at how long-term care is delivered, both in home/community and institutional settings, who provides these services and how they are funded, to better define the appropriate roles of Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance in covering long-term care.
The last time a national committee convened to review the country's long-term care system was the Pepper Commission, which was created more than 20 years ago. This Congress created the Long Term Care Commission in January as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 8), the bill package that avoided the fiscal cliff. The President and both Democratic and Republican Congressional leadership will appoint members to the commission. Commission members are selected to represent a variety of health care stakeholders, including recipients, providers, caregivers, insurance and state Medicaid programs.
Greenstein has extensive professional experience in the health care field, in both the public and private sectors. He previously served in the federal Department of Health and Human Services during the George W. Bush Administration, where he oversaw states' Medicaid programs and led the federal government's Medicaid state reform efforts. Prior to becoming LDH Secretary in 2010, he was Microsoft Corp's managing director of worldwide health.
Greenstein will not receive any compensation for his service on the commission, but will be reimbursed for necessary travel to participate in meetings, hearings and other commission activities.
Two state and congressional leaders focused on health care issues praised the appointment.
"As a physician and member of Congress, I recognize that there is perhaps no greater issue in health care policy than securing the future of our nation's aging population," said U.S. Congressman Bill Cassidy, LA-06. "I've been impressed by Bruce's tenure as Louisiana's health secretary, and his willingness to tackle tough issues which have no easy solutions and his resume of experience will be key assets as this commission tackles this complex issue."
"As a practicing optometrist and Chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, I understand how important it is for Louisiana to be part of the vision in charting the course for our country's long-term health care system," said Sen. David Heitmeier. "With the high number of Baby Boomers in our state who will soon need many of these services, it is important that we make decisions now about how to best provide care to seniors and other people who need long-term supports. I am pleased Bruce will be a voice at the table on the national level to demonstrate Louisiana's health care leadership."
The director of the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP), where Greenstein currently serves as a member of the executive committee, also commended his appointment to the commission.
"States are at the forefront of providing needed long-term care services for America's elders and people with disabilities," said Alan Weil, executive director of NASHP. "I am thrilled that Secretary Greenstein will have a seat the table for these very important discussions."