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News Briefs

Early Birds Staffers Work On Long-Term Care Legislation


Bipartisan backers of a group-rate long-term care insurance program for federal civilian and military personnel are getting an early start this year.

House and Senate staff members who are working on long-term care insurance legislation plan to meet his week, weather permitting.

When and if long-term care insurance for the federal family -- military personnel, civil servants, retirees, spouses and some in-laws -- is approved, it could be two years before coverage is offered. That puts the earliest start date sometime in 2002.

The program was first proposed years ago by then-Sen. Pete Wilson, R-Calif. Congress did important groundwork last year. The House civil service subcommittee had four hearings. It seems everyone favors a long-term care insurance option, but the devil is in the details.

Republicans want a program with minimal government oversight that would allow up to a half-dozen insurance plans to offer coverage. Premiums would be based on age at enrollment and benefit levels. For example, someone could pick coverage to start 30, 60 or 90 days after care was needed, with benefits (indexed to inflation) of $75 to $175 a day. Buyers also could pick the number of years that benefits would be paid.

The GOP-backed program would be similar to the existing federal health benefits program in the number of available plans. But the Office of Personnel Management would not have a major role in negotiating premiums and benefits, as it does in the health insurance program. Republicans argue that competition would produce the lowest premiums.

Democrats prefer a program in which a single insurance carrier (or perhaps two) would offer coverage. A multi-plan program, they contend, would lure many lower-income federal workers into plans with minimal benefits. Buyers would have the same range of benefit options, but they would be limited to one or two insurance providers.

Global Warming Conference Called Off Due to Snow


An urgent message last week from the global-warming types at the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

“Dear Folks:

“Unfortunately, due to the snow emergency and the shutdown of the federal government we have cancelled today’s US Global Change seminar (January 25th) “the Earth’s Surface Temperature in the 20th Century: Coming to Grips with Satellite and Surface-Based Records of Temperature,” with Drs. Wallace and Trenberth. We will, however, reschedule this seminar for a later date and keep you informed accordingly. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

“Anthony Socci, Ph.D.

“Associate Director”

Socci, a former aide to Vice President Al Gore when Gore was in the Senate, is rescheduling the event for May when, it’s hoped, the Earth, or at least this part of it, will be a bit warmer.