Governor Deval Patrick today joined advocates and legislators for a ceremonial bill signing of Senate Bill 2359, "An Act Establishing Standards for Long-Term Care Insurance," which ensures the availability of long-term care insurance policies, protects long-term care applicants from unfair or deceptive sales or enrollment practices, and promotes flexibility and customization according to an individual's long-term care needs. The legislation also establishes standards for long-term care insurance and facilitates better public understanding and comparison of long-term care insurance policies. Governor Patrick signed the legislation on October 25, 2012.
"In Massachusetts we believe that health care is a public good and every individual deserves access to affordable, quality care," said Governor Patrick. "This legislation will ensure that Massachusetts seniors receive the long-term care they need, when they need it. It facilitates families' ability to understand their coverage and plan for long-term care, and ensures that residents enrolled in group policies issued outside the Commonwealth are covered even if the need for long-term care is not immediate."
"This Long-Term Care Insurance bill has been in the works for over 8 years, so it's been a long time coming," said Senator Harriette Chandler. "It is a win for everyone. This legislation presents a new channel of business with standards and offers savings for the state and individuals who will purchase and use it. After a long and hard fight, today marks a very important day, and I am absolutely thrilled."
"This was a long, hard fought battle," said Representative Cory Atkins. "Through the efforts of my constituents and colleagues we now have the ability to protect Massachusetts residents from exploitation when purchasing long-term care insurance and in their senior years. This is a smart move for Massachusetts as we work to make affordable health care accessible to every resident, and I am thrilled to have played a role in this bill's passing."
The legislation also provides safeguards through certain provisions that are prohibited in long-term care insurance policies. For example, a policy may not be cancelled on the basis of age or deterioration of mental or physical health; a long-term care policy may not contain a provision containing a new preexisting condition limitation period when existing coverage is converted to a new one within the same insurance company; the policy may not provide coverage for skilled nursing care only; or provide significantly more coverage for skilled care than coverage for lower levels of care.
Additionally, the legislation:
Gives people of all age's encouragement and peace of mind that they are buying a safe product and one that will provide an option for people to be cared for in their home.
Makes long-term care insurance policies more understandable and more portable across state lines by meeting federal standards for long-term care insurance coverage.