The national long-term care insurance program called the CLASS Act will be included in the Senate Democratic leadership health reform bill that is expected to be released within the next day. The decision by Democratic leader Harry Reid to add CLASS to the bill is a huge victory for backers of the measure, which is already in the House-passed bill. However, many steps remain before the idea becomes law.

CLASS would provide a government-sponsored basic cash benefit to those needing long-term care services at home, in assisted living, or in a nursing facility. All workers would be automaticaly enrolled, although they’d have the right to opt-out of coverage. The design of the policies, including premiums and benefits, would be left to the Secretary of Health & Human Services.

The proposal is strongly opposed by many private long-term care insurance companies.