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The healthcare reform train is beginning to gather speed, and the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging is enjoying the ride.

Today, Sen. Ed Kennedy (D-MA) released the much talked-about “Affordable Health Choices Act.” The bill calls for people to pay into a plan that would allow them a cash benefit in the event of a disability—and would help pay for nursing home care.

Larry Minnix, president and CEO of AAHSA, couldn’t be happier.

“If long-term supports and provisions wind up in reform, it will change the course of how care is delivered from the consumer standpoint and how it’s paid for for the next generation,” he said. “That would be huge.”

It’s easy to understand why Minnix is so excited. After all, this bill is nearly the spitting image of the Long-Term Care Solution, a long-term care reform proposal that AAHSA began working on five years ago. The bill, like the AAHSA plan, calls for people to pay into a plan that would allow them a cash benefit in the event of a disability. This money would provide coverage for various kinds of care, including nursing home care as a supplement to Medicaid.

The proposals are striking in their similarities: The bill wants a new public health insurance plan; the AAHSA plan espouses a “national insurance trust.” Both the bill and AAHSA’s plan would be based on premiums, not by general tax revenues. And for both, benefits would be available after five years of buy-in. While the AAHSA plan calls for $75 a day for people with qualifying disabilities, the “Affordable Health Choices Act” bill would provide a cash benefit of $50 a day.

Over the last few days, it’s become clear that the two main long-term care associations, AAHSA and the American Health Care Association, have adopted different attitudes toward long-term care reform. While AHCA has begged off a bit—at least for now—AAHSA is ferociously pursuing it.

And now we can see why. AAHSA could be seeing the culmination of five years of research, discussions and alliance building on Capitol Hill and beyond.

AHCA, meanwhile, has fixed its eyes on another prize: a major overhaul of the Medicare post-acute payment system. It wants a uniform patient assessment instrument to assess post-acute care needs.

Kennedy’s bill is AAHSA’s vision of long-term care reform.

And it might, just might, become a reality.