By Mike Lillis - 09/17/10 11:15 PM EDT
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, vowed Friday to launch an investigation into the skyrocketing cost of long-term health insurance.
"I want to see the justification from the insurance companies," Pallone said in a statement. "I also want to see how prevalent the increases are."
The comments are a direct response to a recent report in a local New Jersey paper — the Ashbury Park Press — that state insurance regulators this year have approved premium hikes as high as 35 percent for long-term care policyholders in the state.
Such plans generally cover services for patients who can't perform day-to-day activities, like eating and bathing, on their own.
"The whole idea of insurance is to make care affordable," Pallone said, "and long-term care can be a costly burden for families with loved ones in need of nursing care. They shouldn't be forced into bankruptcy to provide that care."
The New Jersey Democrat was author of a provision of the new health reform law that creates a new model of long-term care insurance, focusing on home- and community-based care.