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In addition to Health Savings Accounts, other policy initiatives related to the guiding momentum in the U.S. political marketplace. One such initiative is a move to provide a substantial tax credit for families currently shouldering significant long-term care expenses. Families who pay for long-term care for frail and aging relatives have high expenses. Many older people lack the financial resources to pay for their care, but have children who may be able to help with some tax relief. Providing a tax credit for long-term care services allows families to keep more of their earnings to care for their elderly relatives. It also helps keep adult children financially and personally involved with their aging parent's care.

Currently, only about 5% of American seniors in nursing homes have private long-term care insurance coverage. Many policymakers are interested in providing more insurance. One example is the Long-term Care Partnership bill that provides those who purchase long-term care insurance a guarantee that their assets (money and property) will be protected if their insurance spending limits is reached. Americans will no longer have to become poor by spending down assets in order to qualify for the government-run Medicaid long-term care program.

In conclusion, the American long-term care system is extremely complex with many dynamic moving parts. We are moving away from nursing home settings to give our frail and aging seniors more choices for care. Most seniors prefer to remain in the dignity and security of their own home. They prefer having their families involved with their care decisions. Our long-term care discussions and reforms are moving in that direction, but there is still much more to be done.

Concluding Remarks:

Where do we go from here and what can we learn from each other?

One thing we can do is share and exchange information on how our respective countries have met these challenges. While our systems are different, we are bound by common desire to provide seniors with a secure dignified quality of life in their golden years.

Thank you for allowing me to share with you some of the key features of the long-term care system in the United States."

Mrs.Luppe Wissel's opening remarks demonstrate that the long-term care services system and its trend, particularly on the part of the policymakers is shifting from the conventional government program oriented system to more selective system with a significant incentives to enable families of frail and aging seniors to provide benefits and motivations in the form of tax credits and other methods of aids, which will move the population of aging from institutional settings to their homes and communities, designed to enhance not only the choice of the elderly to spend their aging years but also to respect dignity of the elderly. Ironically, Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is shaping its policy in that same direction. But, Philosophy and vision for a shift form institutional care to in-home and community care is not exactly same as it is not supported by other means of support in the form of benefits for those who will provide care services at homes. In the process of reviewing the current system, it is hoped that what U.S. policymakers have been promoting as a significant measures to motivate grown children of aging seniors in the form of tax credits and other benefits to be provided are implemented, the Ministry's policy may be more dynamic enough to be supported by people in general. On these points, there have been many questions raised by the audiences at the symposium, some of which are worthwhile for attention and study. Mrs. Wissel has made comments regarding Japan's Care Service Insurance System during the panel discussions which will be described at later part of this summary section.


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