(LHP photo)

Pennsylvania state officials recently held an organizational meeting to launch the Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Commission.

The 25-member commission is supposed to review the state’s long-term care (LTC) system and develop recommendations for making the system better and more efficient by December.

The Pennsylvania Medicaid program now spends about $4.7 billion per year on LTC services, officials say.

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare are in charge of setting up the commission. A press release about the creation of the commission and a new press release about the organizational meeting did not mention private long-term care insurance (LTCI) or other private LTC financing mechanisms.

At press time, the commission did not appear to have its own website or website section.

In other LTC planning news:

Lincoln Financial Group (NYSE:LNC) is updating its MoneyGuard life-LTC hybrid product. Like earlier versions of the product, the new version gives users the ability to pay for coverage over 10 years, rather than having to pay for the product with a single premium. The new version can provide more international benefits and a discount for couples who are in a state-recognized civil union or domestic partnership.

The John Hancock Insurance unit of Manulife Financial Corp. (TSX:MFC) has updated the LTC rider it sells with its life insurance policies. Users of the new rider have an option to increase the death benefit and have more flexibility to specify the amount of benefits available to insureds who need long-term care, the company says.

The Private Care Association, a group for private duty home care registries and referral agencies, is trying to persuade more consumers to use trust-based life policy transfers to plan for LTC expenses. The group recently put out a national press release to promote the idea of selling a policy to a party that will put the policy benefits held in an irrevocable trust, then have the trust pay benefits directly to the care providers. The trust-based strategy could be especially useful to consumers who do not qualify for accelerated life policy death benefits because they appear to have more than 12 months to live, the association says.

LTC Financial Partners LLC, an LTC planning firm, is making a new effort to form referral-generating alliances with financial advisors, LTC service providers, insurance agents outside the LTC sector, and other professionals who work with individual consumers ages 45 and older. The firm is building on an existing program that set up alliances with associations and other large organizations.

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