Disability insurance bill could transform healthcare system, Minnix suggests

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Passage of a bill released in Congress Tuesday has the potential to change the healthcare system as we know it, Larry Minnix, president and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, told McKnight's.

"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."

The bill he is referring to is the Affordable Health Choices Act released by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). The legislation would create a disability insurance program that American workers would pay into from their paychecks. The money would help pay for caregiving support during a period of disability.

Minnix noted that the bill is a version of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act of 2007, a bill that AAHSA backed. AAHSA over the last two years has joined with 200 organizations in support of the CLASS Act, he said. Healthcare reform is likely to pass because of the backing of five powerful leaders: President Obama, as well as Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) And Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), he noted.The lawmakers chair major committees.

"I think our biggest barrier is a lack of understanding around the subtle but powerful effect that Sen. Kennedy's bill can have on overall healthcare," Minnix said. "I think our only enemy is time and lack of understanding."