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Long-term care insurance will change

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As an insurance agent, you probably are familiar with long-term care insurance as it exists today.

The government is determined to change it, so be prepared for a shock if you are still in the business in five years.

Here is some background to bring you to today and move into the future. You may remember a piece of legislation called the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act. It was part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or what we call Obamacare.

It didn’t hang around too long because the administration determined that the high premiums would crush the program, so the president canceled it. Congress officially repealed the CLASS Act.

While CLASS is officially dead, its corpse has taken on a new façade.

That new façade is the Commission on Long-Term Care.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller added the commission into the fiscal cliff law during the great compromise negotiated at the end of 2012 to keep the government from closing its doors.

The commission doesn’t actually refer to the term “long term care” in its phraseology but instead uses the phrase “long-term services and supports” (LTSS).

The commission is a powerful commission. It is authorized by law to introduce legislation. Without getting into how a law becomes a law tutorial, suffice it to say that this power is extremely potent.

Since the commission is a relatively new government animal, it has met only a few times. Those meetings produced a brief, Commission on Long-Term Care Summary of Recommendations,” that was published on Sept. 12, 2013.

I said to be prepared for a shock in five years. I said that because that is the average length of time it takes a piece of legislation to go from idea to law.

I also said this commission has the power to introduce legislation. This power short circuits the normal process and means the commission can shape a piece of legislation according to its whims, wishes or personal values and have it on the floor for a vote in no time.

Anyone who follows Washington can tell you that the above-mentioned summary will undergo many revisions until it is shaped into the shapers’ dream of long-term services and solutions.

From my experience, I believe you can say farewell to long-term care insurance as you know it.

Once the commission constructs its vision and that vision becomes law, long-term care will be another venue under federal control. If you understand that federal involvement in the fields of education, food and drugs, transportation and energy all devolved from similar beginnings, you know I’m not too far off base.

Long-term care insurance will change. Let’s hope it doesn’t mirror the affordability we now see with PPACA. Let’s also hope we don’t have the same smoke, mirrors and gadgets like the tax credits and exchanges and mandates disguised as a tax.

I say that because, if you think people can’t afford long-term care insurance now, wait until the new LTSS becomes the law of the land. Long-term care insurance will change. You can take that to the bank.

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