LONG TERM CARE: Military, Civil Servant Insurance Debated
House and Senate staff members are beginning work this week on long term care insurance for military personnel, civil servants, and retirees, but the coverage could take two years to be enacted, the Washington Post reports. The legislation was first proposed years ago by then-Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) and called for "minimal government oversight," offering a half-dozen plans with premiums based on age at enrollment and benefit levels. The Republicans argue that free-market competition would "produce the lowest premiums," as the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) would not have a major role in negotiating premiums and benefits. Democrats prefer a program in which a single carrier, or possibly two, would offer coverage and their plan would be administered by the OPM. The Republican proposal, they argue, would "lure many lower-income federal workers into plans with minimal benefits," thereby reducing the quality of care. In the Democratic plan, buyers of insurance would have the same range of benefit options as the Republican plan. Rep. Constance Morella (R-Md.) has offered a proposal, which "has widespread congressional support," that would open the program to military personnel. Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) has introduced similar legislation (Causey, 2/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.