Her proposal would simplify the current complex rules, and encourage more people to live at home. It would reduce out-of-pocket costs for some people whose assets fall between £23,250 and £100,000 but increase costs for many homeowners, or reduce the amount they could leave in bequests.

Just before the election, under pressure from Labour, she said the government would cap the total amount a frail senior would have to pay out-of-pocket, but did not say what that cap would be.  In 2014, the government adopted an out-of-pocket limit of£ 72,000, but delayed it until 2020 because it could not agree on how to fund the plan.

Scrambling To Form A Government

May proposed to pay for her plan by income-testing the government’s winter fuel benefit for retirees, but again did not define the new rules. Currently that assistance is available to all seniors.

Now, scrambling to form a government, May appears to be open to further watering down the plan to satisfy the demands of the small Northern Ireland Unionist Party whose votes she needs to retain her job.

The US and the UK are the only major developed countries in the world that do not have a social insurance program for long-term care. The Brits have been struggling for years to come up with something, but have never been able to settle on a plan. The US, of course, has Medicaid, which is available only to those who are very frail and have only $2,000 in financial assets, although in some cases that excludes the value of their home.

May had the right idea by raising asset limits and simplifying the rules. But she learned that people are so afraid of losing what benefits they have, even if they are relatively modest, they will reject reforms. Especially if critics succeed to defining them as a dementia tax.