This vote was on an amendment that would have deleted from health care overhaul legislation a new voluntary insurance program to help people with functional limitations purchase long-term care insurance. The amendment was offered to a bill that would overhaul the health insurance system, create a public health insurance option and impose requirements on insurance companies.
Thune called the new program a “sham” because it the way it has been designed, the program shows surpluses in the early years that obscure the deficits the program will run in the long-term. Other Republicans complained that this amendment was designed only to compete with private long-term care insurance.
“I don’t know how my colleagues on the other side, with a straight face, can come to the Senate floor and say this is a great program, that it is actuarially sound. Sure, it may be a benefit to a few people, but I have to tell you, somewhere down the road, when the chickens come home to roost, there is going to be a huge liability that is going to be facing future taxpayers, future generations of Americans, as we start to pile up more deficits and more debt as a result of this Ponzi scheme,” Thune said.
Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said participating in the program is voluntary and that employers don’t have to participate.
“This is a very creative idea using individuals’ money to contribute to their own long-term financial security if they are faced with disabilities,” Dodd said. “It is a very creative and solid program that can make a huge difference for millions of Americans to avoid going to Medicare, divesting themselves of their assets, and allowing them to lead independent lives with dignity. It is deserving of our support.”
By a vote of 51-47, the amendment was rejected. Though more voted yes than no, this particular vote required 60 in order to be considered approved. Every Republican present voted for the amendment. Of Democrats present, 11 voted for the amendment and 46 voted against it (including the most progressive members). The end result is that the measure went forward with a new voluntary long-term care insurance program intact.