Senior Citizen Becomes a Guerilla Organizer to Protect Long-Term Care Insurance Benefits

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Bill Silverman, a 74-year-old resident in assisted living in Massachusetts, finds himself representing the interests of 171,000 seniors in the U.S. who are holding long-term care insurance policies

A showdown between David and Goliath is developing in the long-term care insurance industry. On one side is a large insurance company, Conseco, that last year shifted its long-term care insurance policies to a trust in Pennsylvania where it is incorporated.

On the other side is Bill Silverman, a resident of an assisted living facility in Massachusetts. He has turned into a determined citizen activist in terms of demanding accountability of the insurance company, as well as state agencies involved in allowing Conseco to transfer its policy holders to an independent trust which has now assumed responsibility for long-term care insurance benefits.

Bill Silverman and others are concerned that the trust is dependent on substantially increased premiums from current policy holders and an unsecured loan from Conseco. They suspect that in the current economic climate, it's only a matter of time before the trust becomes "insolvent."

The story is documented by a blog and web site based in Santa Fe, New Mexico that specializes in commenting on the growing tide of activism among the American public: http://www.guerillaorganizing.org.

Ever since the insurance trust was formed in Pennsylvania in the fall of 2008, Bill Silverman has been working with the tools he has available to get out the word: a cell phone, email account and a blog: http://www.bills2359.blogspot.com.

He says that during the public comment period in Pennsylvania, there was no requirement to notify Conseco policy holders of the impending move. Silverman says he only found out about the trust arrangement "by accident" when he asked his broker about Conseco's standing in the insurance industry. Silverman believes that most of the 171,000 individuals impacted still have no idea of what's ahead.

The complete story of Silverman taking on the issues brought about by Conseco can be found at: http://www.guerillaorganizing.org/article3.html.

The details of Conseco's application to rid itself of long-term care policies and how its recent move may affect thousands of seniors nationwide, is available in the public record of citizen comment published online by the state insurance authority in Pennsylvania. The public comment period ended in September of 2008, and the state insurance authority approved the trust.

Conseco's policy holders are spread across the United States, with noticeable concentrations in Florida and California. Insurance advocates in both states and elsewhere submitted critical comments opposing the trust that are included in the public record.

"Bill Silverman represents an increased awareness of Americans of all ages that they can't count on government and corporations to set things right," says Marguerite Kearns, who publishes the Guerilla Organizing blog and web site. The online information resource documents activist campaigns, organizing trainings, commentary, links, as well as information about community organizing and issue organizing.

"The presidential campaign of 2008 emphasized community organizing skills in the training of grassroots campaign workers," Kearns added. "It was the first time a presidential candidate proudly put 'community organizer' on his resume. This has opened up a flood gate for grassroots organizing, and now we're seeing many examples of citizens standing up for themselves and their issues with enthusiasm and passion."

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Marguerite Kearns

Bill Silverman

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