June 12,2007

Sen. Grassley comments on new GAO report on long-term care insurance

Sen. Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Committee on Finance, issued the comment below about a report released today by the Government Accountability Office titled Long-Term Care Insurance: Partnership Programs Include Benefits That Protect Policyholders and Are Unlikely to Result in Medicaid Savings, GAO-07-231. Sen. Grassley requested the GAO review along with Sen. Max Baucus and Sen. John Rockefeller IV.

The report examined long-term care partnership programs in California, Connecticut, Indiana and New York. The GAO analyzed benefits and premiums, demographics of policyholders and the programs’ impact on Medicaid.

Sen. Grassley is a long-time advocate for enhancing retirement security with incentives for long-term care coverage and has exercised oversight of the long-term care insurance industry on behalf of policy holders. As Chairman of the Senate Special Committee during the late 1990s, he first sponsored legislation to expand long-term care insurance opportunities for individuals and held hearings on a range of retirement security issues. He undertook several initiatives to improve the quality of long-term care services. As Chairman of the Finance Committee for more than four years between 2000 and 2007, Sen. Grassley continued his efforts to promote awareness about long-term care insurance by working to create a long-term care information clearinghouse at the Department of Health and Human Services and to expand the partnership program.

Sen. Grassley’s comment on today’s GAO report:

“The federal government and states, through the Medicaid program, are the primary payors of long-term care services in this country. As our population ages and people live longer, the burden on Medicaid and taxpayers will grow unless we take steps to promote long-term care insurance. This new report finds that policies available under long-term care partnership programs provide important protections to individuals.

The expansion of the partnership program will make those protections available to everyone. The report’s conclusion that the long-term care partnership program won’t likely save Medicaid money has drawn some criticism from the very states currently involved in the project. A fundamental disagreement like that tells me that we need to analyze the question further, and I’ll ask the Inspector General to do that.

I’m committed to continuing my work to oversee implementation of the partnership expansion and scrutinize the long-term care insurance industry. People deserve and need meaningful long-term care partnership policies, and compound annual inflation protection is particularly important. Given its importance, I’ve written to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners about compound inflation protection. I’ve also put the long-term care insurance industry on notice that imposing roadblocks to paying legitimate claims is an unacceptable practice and enlisted the help of both the Government Accountability Office and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to get a better handle on this industry.”

Attached in the Printer-Friendly Version of the release is Sen. Grassley’s request to GAO made earlier this year on allegations of overly burdensome obstacles that make it difficult to receive coverage for long-term insurance claims.