Advocates say the program, included in the House version of the bill, would cover the long-term healthcare needs of people with severe disabilities who want to live in the community. Costs would be met through premiums paid by those who are still healthy but who fear their conditions may worsen, The New York Times reported.
The plan's supporters, including President Barack Obama and Senate Health Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, stress it will be self-funded, with premiums expected to be about $123 per month, and wouldn't tap federal subsidies.
"This is the next logical step after the Americans With Disabilities Act," Harkin told the Times. "It will provide people with security and peace of mind. They won't have to go to a nursing home or an institution if they become disabled through an accident or an illness."
But Republicans and some Democratic lawmakers say the idea isn't sustainable and taxpayers would have to bail it out at some point.
"It would create a huge new liability down the road," Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told the newspaper.