A budget bill that will raise pension insurance premiums and could help private long term care insurers has become law.

President Bush signed the bill, S. 1932, Wednesday.

Consumer groups have complained that the long, complicated package, the Deficit Reduction Act, will impose cruel cuts on college aid programs, health insurance programs for children and other programs.

For private insurers, some of the key section of interest may be one that will increase annual premiums for defined benefit pensions backed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. to $30 per plan member, from $19 per plan member.

Another section will permit states to look back up to 5 years to see whether residents applying for Medicaid nursing home benefits for the poor have made improper transfers of assets in order to meet asset limits. The federal government has been letting states look back 3 years.

Still another provision will give all states the authority to set up Long Term Care Partnership programs, or programs that encourage residents to buy private LTC insurance by relaxing Medicaid nursing home benefit qualification rules for private policy holders who exhaust private benefits. Up till now, only California, Connecticut, Indiana and New York have been permitted to operate partnership programs.

A copy of the S. 1932 conference report is on the Web at Document Link