Members of the House kept a section that could expand the long term care insurance partnership program in a major bill passed late last week.[@@]

House members voted 217-215 to approve the bill, H.R. 4241, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.

State LTC partnership programs encourage residents of those states to buy approved private LTC insurance policies. If the program participants exhaust private LTC assets, then they can protect more assets than usual and still qualify for Medicaid nursing home benefits.

Today, partnership programs exist only in California, Connecticut, Indiana and New York.

The H.R. 4241 partnership provision would let other states set up similar programs, according to the provision text.

The American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, put out a statement welcoming passage of H.R. 4241 and the LTC partnership provision.

“Long term care partnerships facilitate cooperation between individual states and private insurers to ease the burden caused by rising long term care costs,” ACLI President Frank Keating says in the statement.