Senate bill offers LTC protection for boomers

Senate health care legislation that could be revealed today is likely to include a new voluntary long-term care insurance program, the Associated Press reports.

Boomers who sign up for the program would pay a monthly premium while employed. A cash benefit of at least $50 would be available if they become disabled to cover the cost of a home care attendant, medical supplies, or home improvements like bathroom railings.

Critics say the plan is not financially sustainable. The bill proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would address those concerns by "stipulating that premiums from the program could not be counted in offsetting the cost of the broader health care bill," the AP writes.

Supporters dismiss the insurance industry's protests, saying private insurance companies can sell supplemental LTCI policies to build on the government program. However, a recent report from Medicare economists said a voluntary insurance program is likely to attract people at a higher risk of needing long-term care, which could increase premiums, discouraging healthier people from signing up.

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