State long term care insurance Partnership programs, brewing since President Bush signed the Deficit Reduction Act in February 2006, are poised to make an impact on the market, panelists agreed at the Intercompany Long Term Care Insurance Conference here last month.
Though only Idaho has received federal approval so far for its Partnership program in the year since Bush signed the DRA, industry groups are working with the states to create uniform requirements for such mandates as inflation protection for Partnership policyholders and training for producers selling the products, according to panel members.
States are struggling to figure out how to handle inflation protection, said panel member Rod Perkins, senior government relations manager, Genworth Financial.
“In the absence of guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services, states are looking at a variety of formulas,” he said. “The idea is to get as much uniformity as possible so you don’t get 50 different sets of rules.”
He noted that the DRA does not mandate a specific inflation percentage for policies, so that some have specified a minimum of 5% annual inflation be built in to the policy benefits.
Panelists agreed that differences in inflation-protection provisions for Partnerships could be a problem, particularly among those states considering reciprocal agreements to honor other states’ Partnership policies, as some are. lackaidaisically
So far, 16 states have signed on to reciprocity, said Paul Strebe, partnership director for Minnesota.
Under the DRA, all states are allowed to adopt a qualified LTC Partnership program, which is tied to Medicaid rules, if certain requirements are met. Among its key provisions is asset protection from Medicaid to the insured, up to the amount of their policy, in the event they ultimately need LTC and exhaust their benefits.
Until the DRA was enacted, only California, Connecticut, Indiana and New York permitted Partnership policies for LTC because they were the only states to have approved such policies before Congress stopped them in 1993.
One of the questions states are wrestling with now is whether to allow existing policies to be converted to Partnerships, Perkins said. He thought it would be unlikely that many would do so because it would be potentially costly to state Medicaid programs.
“States are trying to figure out how to work with carriers for a reasonable approach, looking back in time,” he said. The trouble is, states are looking at a variety of different approaches, he noted.
Strebe said Minnesota is trying to develop guidelines that would allow people with existing LTC policies to convert to Partnership policies with little penalty.
“We shouldn’t be penalizing people by not allowing them to convert, when they did the right thing in buying a policy,” he said.
The lingering question is how far back in time the state should allow older policies to switch, Strebe said.
“We recognize that’s an issue,” he said. “But conversion would be in the carriers’ best interest.”
Sentiment for allowing conversions is gaining momentum in Virginia as well, reported Suzanne S. Gore, a senior policy analyst for Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services.