The following statement was released today by Donald Young, M. D. , Interim President of the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA): For America s 77 million baby boomers, paying future long-term care costs remains as their largest looming expense. According to the Bureau of the Census, in 2020, one out of every six Americans will be age 65 or older roughly 20 million more seniors than today. Furthermore, by 2020, the number of Americans 85 and older the people most likely to use long-term care will double to seven million, and double again to 14 million by 2040. Meanwhile, the national average annual cost of a nursing home stay is about $50, 000.

These demographics underscore the importance of today s hearing by the Senate Aging Committee. Clearly, Americans must be able to protect themselves against often devastating long-term care costs. Equally clearly, private long-term care insurance can play a crucial role by allowing Americans to plan for these future expenses. One way to encourage Americans to plan for future long-term care costs is to make it easier for them to purchase long-term care insurance. Survey data show that providing tax relief for long-term care premiums is the single most important step the government could take to help people pay for long-term care.

Accordingly, HIAA strongly supports bipartisan legislation ("The Long-Term Care & Retirement Security Act of 2001," S. 627/H. R. 831) that would provide Americans with federal tax relief for long-term care insurance premiums, and a $3, 000 annual tax credit for long-term caregivers.

Furthermore, federal tax relief for long-term care insurance premiums would pay for itself by generating future savings in Medicaid spending. We commend Senator Breaux for addressing these important issues, and for focusing public attention on this pressing need. We look forward to working with him, with other Members of Congress, and wit the Bush Administration to help Americans plan for and protect themselves against future long-term care costs.