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Governor Signs Sen. Chandler's Long-Term Care Bill Into Law

Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill aimed at strengthening and establishing legal standards for long-term care insurance.

Submitted by the office of Harriette L. Chandler

Senator Harriette L. Chandler, D-Worcester, announced on Thursday that Governor Deval Patrick signed Senate Bill 2359, An Act Establishing Standards for Long-Term Care Insurance (LTC) into law.

Sponsored by Senator Chandler and consumer protections, this bill aims to strengthen and establish legal standards regarding long-term care insurance in the Commonwealth.

“The LTC Insurance bill has been in the works for over 8 years, so it’s been a long time coming,” said 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.”

The bill plans to do the following:
• Ensure the availability of long-term care insurance policies
• Protect LTC applicants from unfair deceptive sales of enrollment practices
• Promote flexibility and customization according to an individual’s LTC needs
• Facilitates better public understanding and comparison of LTC insurance policies
• Provides safeguards through certain provisions that are prohibited in LTC
insurance policies- a policy may not be cancelled on the basis of age or
deterioration of mental or physical health; a LTC 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.
• Makes LTC insurance policies more understandable and more portable across
state lines by meeting federal standards for coverage

The need for this bill is particularly essential as the baby boomers enter their sixties and nursing home care remains a large part of our Medicaid budget. Massachusetts is one of the few states that lack a long-term care statute, making it a less attractive marketplace for long-term care products. Having long-term care standards in place will promote a market that offers better quality, availability and choice with respect to long-term care policies, and will protect consumers. The bill also mandates a study be undertaken by the Commissioner of Insurance to determine potential methods to stabilize long term care insurance rates and prevent exceptional rate increases in the future.

Senate Bill 2359 is adapted from the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s model legislation and was made possible by advocates, organizations, and colleagues from both the Massachusetts Senate and House.

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