Entries in CLASS Act (2)


House Votes to Repeal CLASS Act

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to repeal a lifeless provision of the president’s health care reform law, known as the CLASS Act.

By a vote of 267-159, lawmakers passed H.R. 1173, Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011. Twenty-eight Democrats joined a unanimous Republican Conference in supporting the repeal.

Even though the Obama administration last fall declared the law dead in the water because the program is not fiscally sustainable, the Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to follow the House’s lead to repeal the provision.

So why did the House repeal it? House Republicans voted to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act last year, but Democrats stood behind the president in defense of their landmark bill. Now, Republicans are trying to take it apart, piece by piece.

“The president’s health care law is making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers and provide insurance for their employees, and Republicans are committed to repealing and defunding it -- piece by piece if necessary,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement after the vote. “The Democrats running Washington used the CLASS Act to mask the true cost of their government takeover of health care, but even the administration now admits CLASS is ‘unsustainable.’ The entire health care law -- with its maze of red tape, mandates, and tax hikes -- is unsustainable."

Boehner called on the Senate to “follow the House’s lead, scrap the law, and work with us to enact reforms that will actually lower health care costs without hurting small businesses and jeopardizing coverage for families.”

The CLASS Act, a pet project of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, is a voluntary program in which taxpayers could volunteer to pay premiums for long-term care that would allow the taxpayer to get that cash later in life.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote a letter to Congress Oct. 14 explaining that a 19-month “comprehensive analysis” of the CLASS program indicated that it was not viable.

The measure, formally known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, came with a five-year waiting period before it started to pay out benefits, but it started collecting revenues immediately. Republicans argued that the act was just another example of how the administration hid the cost of the Affordable Care Act.

“The president’s health care law was built with smoke and mirrors in order to hide its true cost from the American people,” said Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee.  “The CLASS Act is just one prime example of the budget gimmicks Democrats employed to force their bill through Congress.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Administration Pulls the Plug on Long-Term Care Program

Tom Williams/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama Administration threw in the towel Friday, acknowledging that a Long-Term Care provision in the health care law championed by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., was financially unsustainable.

Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius wrote a letter to Congress that a 19-month “comprehensive analysis” of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program indicated that it was not viable.

CLASS was a voluntary program where a taxpayer could say, “I may need long term care someday,” and volunteer to pay premiums that would allow the taxpayer to get that cash later in life. There were concerns about this program as it was being formed, leading Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., to push a provision in the health care legislation saying HHS would need to certify that CLASS Act would be actuarially sound and financially solvent for 75 years before it could be implemented.

Friday Sebelius acknowledged that she couldn’t make that certification.

“The challenge that CLASS was created to address is not going away,” she noted. “By 2020, we know that an estimated 15 million Americans will need some kind of long-term care and fewer than three percent have a long-term care policy. … (L)eft unaddressed, long-term care costs to taxpayers will only increase. Without insurance coverage or the personal wealth to pay large sums in their later years, more Americans with disabilities will rely on Medicaid services once their assets are depleted, putting further strain on State and Federal budgets.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement that the announcement essentially meant that the Obama administration was acknowledging “what they refused to admit when they passed their partisan health bill: the CLASS Act was a budget gimmick that might enhance the numbers on a Washington bureaucrat’s spreadsheet but was destined to fail in the real world.”

Joyce A. Rogers, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at AARP, issued a statement saying that the powerful seniors organization was “disappointed that the Secretary has prematurely stated she does not see a path forward to properly implement CLASS. In fact, the CLASS actuarial report established that CLASS can still be designed to be a ‘value proposition,’ although development work still needs to be done. We urge the Administration to continue dialogue and development of a viable path forward. Medicare does not cover long-term care, and 70 percent of people age 65 and over will need long-term care services at some point in their lifetime.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio