The National Conference of Insurance Legislators put off consideration of a long term care partnership model act until this summer.[@@]

Health and life insurance industry officials hope by then Congress will repeal the current legislative impediments to these programs.

Megan Mamarella, manager of state government affairs for the National Association of Health Underwriters, says the partnerships are an attempt to relieve the strain long term care costs put on Medicaid programs. She notes that currently, Medicaid pays about 54% of LTC costs nationwide.

The partnership program would encourage applicants to purchase LTC insurance from the private sector. When that is exhausted, the program would enable them to qualify for Medicaid coverage without the usual requirement of selling off their assets to pay for care.

California, Connecticut, Indiana and New York currently offer partnership programs, because they had them in place before the programs were prohibited under the 1993 federal budget act.

“Having a public-private partnership program that allows consumers to purchase an LTC policy without having to spend down their assets, while providing relief to struggling state Medicaid budgets, is the ultimate goal of everyone in the room, and we want to be assured this can be achieved successfully,” Mamarella told the lawmakers at the NCOIL meeting last week.

Sam Morgante, vice president of government relations for Genworth Financial, told the lawmakers that state LTC partnership policies in the past decade increased consumer receptivity to learning about LTC insurance and also encouraged more younger consumers to buy such policies, compared to those buying nonpartnership policies.

“As we seriously consider expanding the partnerships, we need to better understand the role of a change in federal statutes and how not to set in motion 46 new experiments,” he said.