Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



Millions of Americans suffer from physical or mental conditions that make it difficult for them to live fully independent lives. These are the frail elderly, disabled and chronically ill persons of all ages, and many mentally ill or mentally retarded persons. They need help to manage daily activities, whether they live in their own homes or in nursing homes.

Such care can be extremely expensive, since it often must be provided for many years, even a lifetime. Today, those costs are met largely by the individuals themselves or by their families and by public programs for low-income persons.

For many years, persons in the U.S. in need of long-term care have struggled along with a patchwork system of private financing, insufficient state and federal funding, and limited private insurance. But today there is a new awareness and a new public focus on the difficulties that disabled and chronically ill Americans face in obtaining and paying for long-term care services.

This report examines the background of the long-term care issue and the debate that has developed in Congress on how to address concerns about the financing and availability of long-term care.



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