Administration ends Reform Law's CLASS
2011--On Friday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
announced that the Obama administration will end the
Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, a
long-term care program created by the federal health
reform law, the New
York Times reports (Pear, New York Times, 10/14).
The CLASS Act was
intended to provide insurance to workers if they become
unable to care for themselves because of injury or
illness. Since its inception, critics have questioned
the CLASS Act's fiscal sustainability and called it an
questions were raised about the future of the program
after an email from Bob Yee, the chief actuary of the
office in charge of the program, indicated that the
office was closing and that he was leaving his position.
denied reports that the office was shutting
down. However, HHS officials have
acknowledged concerns about the CLASS
program and have said they were considering
changes to ensure its long-term fiscal
In a letter
sent on Friday to congressional leaders, Sebelius
wrote there was not a "viable path forward" to implement
the CLASS program while keeping it affordable and
financially solvent. The administration estimated that
although monthly premiums typically would have ranged
from $235 to $391, they could have reached as high as
$3,000 under some scenarios. Such premiums would have
reduced the likelihood that healthy individuals would
sign up for the program, which was scheduled to begin in
York Times, 10/14).
According to HHS
Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee, federal
requirements stipulate that Sebelius must certify that
the program could remain fiscally solvent for 75 years.
However, Greenlee said that Sebelius "could not meet
that threshold" (Norman, Politico, 10/14).
Cutting CLASS Eliminates $86 Billion in
The end of the
CLASS program eliminates an estimated $86 billion in
savings that the health reform law was projected to
generate, The Hill's "Healthwatch"
reports (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 10/14). The
overhaul is now expected to reduce the deficit by $124
billion between 2012 and 2021 (Aizenman, Washington
Prompts GOP Investigation
on Friday said they will hold a hearing of the Energy
and Commerce Committee's health and oversight panels to
discuss why it took so long for the Obama administration
to end the CLASS Act, "Healthwatch"
reports. The committee -- which is scheduled to meet on
Oct. 26 -- released a report last month alleging that
the administration disregarded concerns regarding the
sustainability of the program to inflate the projected
savings of the federal health reform law.
House Energy and
Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said the
panel will hold the hearing "to get answers about why
this sham was carried on for as long as it was, and what
cancellation of the program means for the law's growing
price tag" (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 10/15).
announcement, many Democrats indicated that they still
intend to develop a "workable and affordable
alternative" to address the issue of long-term care,
while many members of the GOP revived calls to repeal
the health reform law, CQ Today repots.
"The fact is that
we still have a long-term care problem in this country,
and despite the criticism received, the CLASS program
was a creative attempt to address a difficult and
growing challenge for American families," a spokesperson
for Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said.
Republicans said that simply shelving CLASS was
insufficient and that Congress should vote to repeal the
House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) spokesperson, said
cutting the program "reinforces the need for the Senate
to take up the House-passed repeal of the whole law, so
we can replace it with common-sense reforms that will
actually lower costs" (Ethridge, CQ Today, 10/14)