NU Online News Service, May 28, 6:44 p.m. – Kansas Gov. Bill Graves, a Republican, has signed S.B. 586, a bill that gives insurers more flexibility when setting elimination periods for long-term care insurance policies.

An elimination period determines how long consumers pay for care out of their own pockets before an insurance policy begins paying benefits.

S.B. 586, which applies only to nursing home coverage, declares that “no regulation shall limit the number of days contained in an elimination period of confinements in a nursing facility or for all confinement in a nursing facility which are due to the same or related causes and separated from each other by less than 180 days.”

The bill changes Kansas Statute Number 40-2228, which previously said only that the state insurance commissioner had the authority to regulate long-term care insurance elimination periods.

The amended statute still gives the commissioner the authority to regulate elimination periods, as long as the commissioner does not try to limit elimination-period length.

Connie Hubbell, the secretary of the Kansas Department on Aging, spoke up for the bill March 19 at a House Insurance Committee hearing.

“Senate Bill 586 allows customers purchasing long-term care insurance to decide how long their own personal elimination period will be,” Hubbell testified, according to a written copy of her remarks posted on the Kansas Department of Aging Web site. “If a customer can afford to pay for their own long-term care for 365 days, it may make their insurance premiums more affordable. We support any increase in flexibility in policy writing that gives seniors more options.”

S.B. 586 was introduced by the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

The original version would have set a 365-day limit on nursing home coverage elimination periods.

The bill passed 40-0 in the Senate and 121-1 in the House.

The text of the final version of the bill is on the Web at http://www.kslegislature.org/bills/2002/586.pdf