Kennedy unveils sweeping healthcare reform bill with long-term care provisions

Share this content:
The late Sen. Edward Kennedy
The late Sen. Edward Kennedy
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) on Tuesday released a massive healthcare reform bill that includes long-awaited provisions for long-term care services and supports.

The "Affordable Health Choices Act" would create a new disability insurance program that would charge American workers' premiums. That money would entitle participants who are vested for five years a cash benefit of at least $50 a day if they become disabled. They could use the money for expenses to stay at home. The cash would also help supplement Medicaid for nursing home stays.

The bill "bridges the acute-care Medicaid world [and] the long-term care disability world with the real world where people live everyday," said Larry Minnix, president and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, which has championed this bill.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), which Kennedy chairs, today and Thursday will meet to discuss outstanding legislative options. A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Mark-up of the legislation will begin Tuesday.

In related news, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), and Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) on Tuesday released a four-page outline of draft health reform legislation. It would establish a health insurance exchange and invest in the healthcare workforce, among other provisions.