While the issue of health care is being discussed from multiple angles in the media today, one issue is being ignored by almost all, yet it affects everyone at some point in their lives: nursing home care.

The average yearly cost of a shared room in a nursing home in Maine is about $100,000. The Republican health plan proposed by Congress would radically affect access to nursing home care because it favors block grants with finite caps to each state.

On its face, it sounds very reasonable. Individual states can tailor grant money for the neediest in their state, even in states where the majority votes Republican. However, many nursing home patients stay more than three years. Granny or Granddad’s home is usually sold to pay for this expense, along with any other assets, which is why so few children inherit the family home nowadays.

After the patient has spent all but $10,000 of their assets, Granny goes on Medicaid until she leaves this world. Some people live for years and years in nursing homes. Block grants would force some poor official in the state Health and Human Services Department to make the decision between paying for the cancer treatments of a father of five and Granny’s nursing home care, in effect creating the dreaded “death panels” that the tea party was so fond of denouncing.

Frankly, with an explosion of baby boomers reaching that dreaded age of nursing home care, this seems like the stupidest health care reform yet. After all, everyone has a granny, and everyone will remember if she ends up in the homeless shelter and which party or politician voted to put her there.

Louise Rocha-McCarthy

South Portland