If you think the U.S. is struggling over how to finance long-term care, just take a look at what’s happening in the U.K.

There, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who faces an uphill battle for reelection this spring, has proposed to expand free long-term care to 280,000 of the most needy. His proposal has not only come under fire from the opposition conservatives, but also from many in his own Labour Party and from local governments who’d be responsible for managing the program. One huge concern: Brown won’t say how he’d pay for all this extra care,estimated to be at least £670 million per year.

In recent days, there have been hints that he’d use a new estate tax–an idea the Tories instantly jumped on as a”death tax.” Here is an excellent column from The Guardian that describes the whole mess.

The saddest result of all this is that last summer Brown began an important process to find a consensus solution to the challenges of long-term care financing. The government put out a serious green paper (white paper to us Yanks) that laid out several creative options. Now, all that has been lost in a morass of partisan electioneering. To those of us caring for our parents who have been watching the debate over health reform and the CLASS Act here in the U.S, it all sounds depressingly familiar.