Publicly (mainly Medicaid) funded long-term care (LTC) services have evolved from a nursing home dominated system of service to a much more balanced system including home- and community-based services (HCBS) programs over the last 30 years. The HCBS programs have been largely administered by the state and local level nonprofit aging networks (ANs) consisting of Area Agencies on Aging and thousands of service providers. Over the last decade, however, for-profit HMOs administered primarily by large insurance companies have begun to displace AN organizations. State policymakers have embraced for-profit privatizations under the rationale that this approach will generate greater savings, efficiencies, and higher quality outcomes than the traditional public or private nonprofit models of program administration. As we show here, there is very little evidence for this rationale; yet, this lack of evidence has not prevented the continuing growth of for-profit managed LTC programs supported more by an ideology of market fundamentalism than empirical evidence. We also describe six possible consequences of the trend toward corporate control of public LTC services in the years ahead.
- Larry Polivka, The Gerontologist