Senators probe private-equity, long-term care insurance industries

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Spurred by a recent news account and association data, two senators are examining the conduct of two lucrative industries affiliated with long-term care: private equity and long-term care insurance.

Earlier this week, presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked the Government Accountability Office to examine how private equity ownership has affected the quality of care in nursing homes and how conditions at facilities have changed since being bought by private investment groups. This request follows a recent front-page report in the New York Times that found that such acquisitions often lead to staff cuts in return for higher profit margins.

In a separate investigation, Grassley, who is the highest ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has asked 11 long-term care insurance companies to explain what he calls "troubling data" collected by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The data indicated that between 2001 to 2006 nationwide complaints about long-term care insurance rose 92%. Claim denials were one of the chief areas of complaint, according to the report. Investigations into the complaints resulted in reversals that favored consumers in the majority of the cases, the data revealed.
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