KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Long-Term Care Program Would Provide Revenue – At First

A long-term care program could produce some needed dollars, at least in the short range, CQ Politics reports: "A new insurance program for long-term care that Democrats have included in a Senate health overhaul bill would produce about $58 billion in revenue for the government over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, helping to offset the cost of the legislation. Democrats acknowledge that spending in the long-term care program would increase after 10 years and that it likely would not remain a very profitable enterprise for the government. It is even possible, they say, that the program could become insolvent; in that case, the secretary of Health and Human Services would be authorized to close its enrollment. "The CBO says that premiums would have to rise significantly higher than Democrats have assumed for the program to remain financially sound."

CQ Politics notes: "But Democrats say the program strikes at a problem that has long embarrassed lawmakers: Medicare generally does not cover long-term care, and so many seniors needing the care impoverish themselves in order to qualify for Medicaid, the health entitlement for the poor, which does cover the service. ... While the long-term care program would be a government-run insurance plan, it is intended to complement private long-term care insurance, not compete with the products, Democratic aides say. Benefits under the program are intended to only cover about half the average cost of long-term care, according to a summary distributed by HELP staff. Private long-term care insurance has not proved popular: according to the HELP committee, more than 200 million adult Americans lack any kind of coverage against the possibility they will need the care" (Wayne, 6/26).

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