GOV. SIGNS LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE BILL: After taking his full 10 days to review, Gov. Deval Patrick on Thursday afternoon signed long-term care insurance legislation (S 2359) that sets new standards for policies and creates consumer protections. Long-term care insurance regulations already exist in Massachusetts, but the new law requires the insurance commissioner to promulgate the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ model, which provides additional consumer protections. It also gives the insurance commissioner increased authority over rate-setting and cost controls. Its sponsors say it will protect some elderly patients from losing their homes to pay for long-term care. Currently, patients who go into a nursing home are allowed to keep their homes if they have bought a sufficient amount of long-term care insurance to cover some of the costs before Medicaid coverage takes over. In some instances, elderly patients choose home care before going into a nursing home, bringing their long-term care benefits below the minimum amount required – sometimes leading them to lose their homes to the state to cover the costs of care, according to sponsors of the legislation. The law limits MassHealth’s estate recovery ability for people holding approved plans.
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