New insurance proposal would help pay for nursing home stays for disabled

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The late Sen. Edward Kennedy
The late Sen. Edward Kennedy
A provision in Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-MA) healthcare overhaul proposal would automatically enroll workers in a disability-insurance program. This would help pay for nursing home costs for the disabled before Medicaid payments kick in, according to recent reports.

All workers would be automatically enrolled in the program at age 18, according to proposal details. Premiums would be deducted from paychecks, and would typically not exceed $65 per month. Impoverished citizens and student workers would pay no more than $5 per month. In the event of a disability, a person would be eligible for up to $50 per day in disability benefits. This money would likely go toward paying for nursing home care, but it also would be applicable for at-home care services. If the money were applied to nursing home care, it would help pay for care before Medicaid payments are needed, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

In a statement, Kennedy said his legislation would allow "millions of senior citizens and persons with disabilities ... to lead full and independent lives." While the Congressional Budget Office has yet to perform a full analysis of the proposal, early estimates indicate it could raise as much as $320 billion in its first year, according to the Journal. Lawmakers are expected to deliberate on Kennedy's legislation as early as next week.