Senate HELP Committee Including Long-Term Care in Reform Proposal
On Tuesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee finished marking up a long-term care insurance proposal that will be included in the panel's health reform legislation, CongressDaily reports.
The plan, proposed by HELP Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), would pay a minimum of $50 per day to adults who no longer can perform at least two activities related to daily life. Beneficiaries would have to pay a $65 monthly premium for at least five years and work for at least three of those years before they could begin receiving benefits (Hunt, CongressDaily, 7/7).
On Tuesday, President Obama also expressed his support for the plan.
In a letter to Kennedy, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote that Obama wants the program to be included in a health reform bill (AP/Boston Globe, 7/8).
Obama's support could increase the likelihood that the long-term care program is included in a final bill produced when the Senate Finance Committee and the HELP Committee merge their health reform plans later this year, according to CongressDaily.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the program will save the government $58 billion over the first 10 years because no payments would be made to beneficiaries for the first five years. CBO also said that raising the premium to $85 per month and placing a $50 maximum on daily benefits would keep the program solvent through 2050.
The HELP Committee adopted an amendment, proposed by Senate Budget Committee ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), that would require the HHS secretary to make annual adjustments to the program's premium and benefit levels to ensure long-term solvency.
Republicans have criticized the proposal, saying it would eventually pay out more in benefits than it will receive in premiums.
HELP Committee ranking member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said, "This new program will then become an unfunded liability that will cost the taxpayers $2 trillion" (CongressDaily, 7/7).
Broadcast CoverageNPR's "All Things Considered" on Tuesday reported on Obama's support for the long-term care plan (Shapiro, "All Things Considered," NPR, 7/7). 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.