In a bit of surprising news, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont) added some key long-term care amendments to his health reform bill. The provisions, first proposed by senators John Kerry (D-Mass), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) would all make home and community based care more accessible under Medicaid.

Currently, Medicaid is only required to provide long-term care in nursing homes. States provide limited home care services, but in most, the benefits are very limited. The amendments would make more frail seniors and younger people with disabilities eligible for home care, and provide financial incentives for states to expand these benefits.

Baucus also added a separate proposal that would allow hospice patients to receive full Medicare benefits. This three-year demonstration project would make it possible for hospice patients to get both hospice benefits and treatment for their terminal illness. 

Baucus added the changes as the Finance Committee began drafting its version of health reform.